Global Policy Forum

Lord's Resistance Army in Sights of UN Security Council President, for Action on War Crimes


By Matthew Russell Lee

Inner City Press
February 2, 2007

"Concrete action against the Lord's Resistance Army" in Uganda was called for Friday by the president of the UN Security Council for February. Slovakia's Ambassador Peter Burian told Inner City Press that he and other Council members were told to hold off on criticism when the UN's Jan Egeland met with LRA leaders in late 2006, "because the situation was fragile." Now Amb. Burian questions whether the LRA leadership's strategy is to make small concessions to continue to forestall a move to enforce the outstanding war crimes indictments issued by the International Criminal Court.

Amb. Burian was on the Security Council trip to Southern Sudan when the talks between the LRA and Uganda's Museveni government began. "We were told, don't say much, it has only just started," said Amb. Burian. A reporter who accompanied the Council on that trip recalls waiting for an okay from the government of South Sudan to interview the LRA leaders, which permission never came. Since then, the LRA has conducted something of a public relations campaign. Amb. Burian expressed frustration Friday at the lack of fight-back or rebuttal.

At a UN press conference Friday, Inner City Press asked Amb. Burian if he will add Uganda and the LRA on the Council's agenda this month. "It's a good point," he responded. "It has been a while since the Council has discussed it, probably we need to revisit recent developments. We may put the question in our national capacity... action against the LRA and on using child soldiers and disrupting the region's peace and security."

The talks in Juba in Southern Sudan between the LRA and Uganda's Museveni government have broken down, with the LRA seeking to transfer negotiations to Kenya or South Africa. U.S. State Department spokesman Scott McCormack on Friday said that "We are concerned that demands to change the mediator and venue of the talks will only delay peace in the region and further the suffering of displaced northern Ugandans."

Slovakia, a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, is also concerned with northern Uganda, a staffer of Amb. Burian told Inner City Press. "Often the UK has been in the lead on this issue," he said. But the UK is seen as speaking for Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni, whose has been less than clear on whether the ICC warrants should be enforced. Slovakia, said the staffer, does not have this conflict of interest. "We can fight for the suffering people everywhere," he said.

Earlier in the week, Inner City Press asked Charles Rapp, who is prosecuting Liberia's Charles Taylor, for his views on the LRA. Mr. Rapp too said that justice should not be sold out for a peace that might well be illusory. Now with Jan Egeland rumored to be on the verge of obtaining another UN post, this balance between peace and justice should be spoken on and clearly. Justice Richard Goldstone told Inner City Press last year that before the UN talks with the leaders of the LRA, the Security Council should formally put the ICC indictments on hold. There are now 27 days in which Amb. Burian has to act, and/or be asked these questions. We'll see.

More Information on the Security Council
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