The role of international organizations in peacebuilding and international political and military interventions is very important and yet, far from perfect.
International organizations many times fail to notice local factors that cause conflict, by having a top-down approach, which often occurs as a failure of peacebuilding. Therefore, many authors recommend a different approach to international conflict resolution. For example, when analysing the policy of international organizations on conflict resolution Autesserre write that “UN staff members’ and diplomats’ neglect of local conflict – is a recurrent pattern in third-party interventions”1. In that context, it is suggested to apply a different approach to conflict resolution, so that local factors of it – will not be neglected. Thus, this way of dealing with conflicts will be built upon the understanding of local aspects instead of applying a state level of analysis. Therefore, this essay aims to analyze this different approach by looking at the conflict in northern Uganda with an analysis of the international community intervention, through the perspectives of social constructivism, so it proposes the following research question: Is it better for the international community to approach the conflict from the perspective of social constructivism instead of liberalism?In order to understand the aspects of the conflict in northern Uganda, it is necessary to run through some background information about the rebel group the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and explain the responsibility of the international community to intervene.
The conflict of northern Uganda started when the incumbent president Museveni of Uganda won over the regime of the general Okello in 1986. Right after this takeover, Museveni started an armed fight against the Acholi population and forced its people to retreat to the north of the country. This overthrow and violence against Acholi citizens led to the development of several resistance troops, with the LRA ruled by Kony. But after seizing power, LRA came against the Acholi civilians themselves2.
Ever since, this illegitimate group is recognized for committing human rights abuses including, among other things, the mass killings, the rape, the kidnappings of children, the mutilations, the training of child soldiers, and torture of Acholi people3.Because of these multiple human rights violations, the whole international community is faced with taking the responsibility to protect the Acholi people, as stated in a report of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty4. Therefore, in the situation of the northern Uganda conflict, where the Ugandan administration is incapable to exercise full control over its own territory, the international community has a moral duty to intervene and to protect the innocent, in order to stop the human rights violations5. Therefore, to respond to the question previously proposed, it is necessary to follow through two different viewpoints within the science of IR. These perspectives will also indicate to the possible challenges or benefits that the international community will have to face when approaching within this specific conflict. To understand the response of the international community to the human rights abuses in northern Uganda, through the perspective of liberalism within the science of International Relations, the substantial meaning of this theoretical perspective will first be explained.Liberalism is looking to to project ideas of liberty, order, toleration, and justice into international relations6, writes Dunne when describing the basic principles of this theoretical perspective. According to that author, international institutions are able of this projection, in order to guarantee international security.
The positive conception of liberalism even supports interferences in foreign territories to project these ideas in order to sustain or improve collective security. The accord of interests between actors is prerequisite to be capable to collaborate, and is present due to interdependency. Collaboration and interdependency exist since the occurrence of trade and international agreements, and will lead to absolute improvements for all actors involved. The growth of a political society in the nowadays global order is thus understandable, and this society can afterward defend values like human rights by forming international organizations and institutions to interfere when such principles are broken7.As explained earlier, international community is responsible to react to the considerable human rights values that have been violated in the northern Uganda by the Lord’s Resistance Army. Therefore, within the viewpoint of liberalism, the international community can intervene by the use of international organizations for stopping the ferocities against Acholi people. The International Criminal Court (ICC) is such an institution and is the first treaty based, permanent, international criminal court, created to help end impunity for the committers of the most severe crimes of concern to the international community8. From the viewpoint of liberalism, it is thus clear that the ICC issued a warrant against the greatest protruding members of the LRA in October 2005, to further stop the human rights abuses9.
Regrettably, this warrant confirmed to be counterproductive since the ICC miscalculated the complication of this conflict, because failed assumptions10. For this reason, the ICC neglected local causes in the peacebuilding process by engaging their top-down procedures11, because its warrant was in the way of the Juba peace negotiations between the Ugandan administration and the LRA12. Therefore, capitulation became a less attractive option for the LRA because of the issuing of the warrant, since capitulation would conduct to international prosecution by the ICC, so this caused the continuation of the conflict. The impression that a warrant, given by an international organization like the ICC, would take it to peace, therefore, confirmed wrong in this situation since the warrant only delayed conflict resolution. The use of agreements and warrants by international institutions, as supported by the perspective of liberalism, is thus not always the correct path to reach peace. Therefore, it is fair to, next, present a different approach to conflict resolution by, once more, analyzing the northern Uganda conflict through a different viewpoint.It is necessary to provide a general review of the response of the international community to the human rights abuses in northern Uganda, also, observed through the perspective of social constructivism within the discipline of IR. Therefore, the significant meaning of this theoretical viewpoint will also, first, be explained.
Barnett says: Some years ago, several scholars and jurists complained about the very concept of humanitarian intervention because it violated sovereignty’s rule of non-intervention and permitted great powers to try to come as a sheep in a wolf’s clothing. Over the last decade, although, there is an increasing acceptance of humanitarian intervention and the ‘responsibility to protect’ – when countries are incapable or reluctant to protect their people, then the international community takes that responsibility13.In this fragment, Barnett presents the key points of social constructivism, as he describes the actors’ interests as shaped by jointly carried ideas. He stresses that the relations of actors are prearranged and compulsory by social structures. For this reason, this theoretical perspective is founded upon the effort to understand these constructions ability to solve problems. Social constructivism analyzes the status quo by denaturalizing what is perceived for granted, and attempts to produce different trajectories14.
Within this viewpoint, dangers to values and the repatriation of these values are analyzed, in order to guarantee international security15.As presented earlier, homegrown factors like the Juba peace negotiations have been neglected, which lead to the persistence of the northern Uganda conflict. Unlike the liberalistic viewpoint, social constructivism concentrates on the understanding of those local factors within the conflict16. Analyzing those aspects within this conflict, one will discover that people of Uganda put the ending of the killings first, and therefore are less concerned in international justice brought by the International Criminal Court17. Therefore, it would be more logic to concentrate on those local features like the Juba peace negotiations, since potential peace treaties became more possible through this way, instead of concentrating on the trial at ICC of those who abuses international values like human rights.
Thus, the ICC omitted national paths of peacebuilding, which possess a more understandable notion of justice18. The International Crisis Group, just like Autesserre, supports attention on local aspects of this conflict and therefore endorses involved international actors to concentrate on local resolutions with sustainable growth programs, in order to stop the killings in northern Uganda. Afterward, the explanations of McDonald in his article on constructivism, can be well considered, since he says that peace negotiations have a better chance to succeed when one is regarding local aspects, by avoiding a state level approach of analysis.
In conclusion, in order to answer the essay’s question, first it contained related information on the northern Uganda conflict. With this information considered, one was capable to apply the analysis as carried out over the two theoretical perspectives. This study showed the failure of the liberalism approach when it came to interference in order to stop the killings in Uganda. The warrant, as given out by the International Criminal Court, is a way of showing how this approach is perceptible within this case and how it only obstructed conflict resolution. This is just one case of the approach of liberalism in this conflict, but nonetheless, it delivers a clear view of how this approach in itself can be inefficient and even counterproductive, and how this can lead to the prolongation of the killings. After analyzing liberalism, an alternative theoretical viewpoint was presented, in which local features like the Juba peace negotiations would not have been ignored. On the basis of academic articles, it can be argued in favor of this perspective since it is more likely to succeed to put a stop to the human rights abuses in Uganda. Thus, I suggest applying social constructivism in order to understand local conflict, as an alternative of merely using a state level approach of investigation on conflicts, as frequently done by international institutions.
That is because the approach of local factors in conflicts will more likely take the case to a recovering of security and human rights principles. Therefore, I can hereby positively answer the essay’s question.This hypothesis only applies to this precise conflict with its evaluation and arguments as stated in this essay. In order to generalize this thesis, one must study other cases as well. It is worthwhile to do so, since it will provide the international community with suitable information and understandings of intervention in conflicts in order to correctly fulfil their responsibility to protect.1 S.
Autesserre, Hobbes and the Congo: Frames, violence, and international intervention. International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 63, 2009, p.
275.2 E. Baines, The Haunting of Alice: Local Approaches to Justice and Reconciliation in Northern Uganda, The International Journal of Transitional Justice, vol. 1, 2007, p. 99.3 J.
Burke, Central Africa fears return of LRA after hunt for Joseph Kony ends, The Guardian, available online at: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/may/01/central-africa-fears-return-of-lra-lords-resistance-army-after-hunt-for-joseph-kony-ends, accessed on 22.
01.2018.4 The Responsibility to Protect, International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty, Ottawa, 2000, p. XI.5 P. Akhavan, The Lord’s Resistance Army case: Uganda’s submission of the first state referral to the International Criminal Court in The American Journal of International Law, Cambridge University Press, vol. 99, 2005, p. 403.
6 T. Dunne, An introduction to International Relations, Oxford University Press, New York, 2011, p. 103.7 Idem, p.
112.8 About the court, International Criminal Court, available online at https://www.icc-cpi.int/about, accessed on 22.01.2018 9 E. Baines, The Haunting of Alice: Local Approaches to Justice and Reconciliation in Northern Uganda, The International Journal of Transitional Justice, vol.
1, 2007, p. 101.10 T. Allen, The Lord’s Resistance Army, myth and reality, Zed Books, London, 2010, p. 242.11 N. Roth-Arriaza, Transitional Justice in the Twenty-First Century: Beyond Truth versus Justice, Cambridge University Press, 2006, p. 7.
12 R. Atkinson, Uganda peace talks – The realists in Juba, Sudan Tribune, 2006, available online at http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article17685, accessed on 22.01.2018. 13 M.
Barnett, The globalization of world politics: An introduction to international relations, Oxford University Press, New York, 2011, p. 162.14 Idem, p. 163.15 M.
McDonald, Human security and the construction of security, Global Security, vol. 16, 2002, p. 277.16 M. Barnett, The globalization of world politics: An introduction to international relations, Oxford University Press, New York, 2011, p. 163.
17 E. Baines, The Haunting of Alice: Local Approaches to Justice and Reconciliation in Northern Uganda, The International Journal of Transitional Justice, vol. 1, 2007, p. 94.
18 N. Roth-Arriaza, Transitional Justice in the Twenty-First Century: Beyond Truth versus Justice, Cambridge University Press, 2006, p. 12.