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The Lord’s Resistance Army Case: Uganda’s Submission of the First State Referral to the International Criminal Court

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  27 February 2017

Payam Akhavan
Affiliation:
Yale Law School and Yale University Genocide Studies Program, Prosecutor’s Office, ICTY–ICTR

Extract

On December 16, 2003, Uganda referred the situation concerning the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) to the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC). It was the first time that a state party had invoked Articles 13(a) and 14 of the Rome Statute in order to vest the Court with jurisdiction.

For both Uganda and the ICC, the case presented an important opportunity. For Uganda, the referral was an attempt to engage an otherwise aloof international community by transforming the prosecution of LRA leaders into a litmus test for the much celebrated promise of global justice. Since 1986, LRA atrocities have wreaked havoc on the Acholi people of northern Uganda. Given the absence of any vital national interests, influential states have not been inclined either to pressure Sudan to stop harboring the LRA or to help government forces confront the insurgents. Instead, the burden was placed on Uganda to negotiate a peaceful settlement with a ruthless, cult-like insurgency. The imprimatur of international criminal justice, sought through the referral to the ICC, was a means of thrusting this long-forgotten African war back onto the international stage.

Type
Developments at the International Criminal Court
Copyright
Copyright © American Society of International Law 2005

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References

1 ICC Press Release, President of Uganda Refers Situation Concerning the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) to the ICC (Jan. 29, 2004) [hereinafter President’s referral to ICC]. ICC materials, including the Rome Statute (corrected as of January 16, 2002), press releases, and information on cases and situations, are available online at the Court’s Web site, <http://www.icc–cpi.int>.

2 July 17, 1998, UN Doc. A/CONF. 183/9*, 37 ILM 999 (1998).

3 UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Consolidated Appeals Process: Uganda 2005, at 5 (Nov. 2004), at <http://ochadms.unog.ch> [hereinafter Uganda 2005].

4 Office of War Crimes Issues, U.S. Dep’t of State, the International Criminal Court, Fact Sheet (May 6, 2002), at <http://www.state.gov/s/wci/fs/2002/9978.htm>. In September 2005, however, U.S. accusations that crimes committed in Sudan’s Darfur region amount to genocide, see Powell, Colin L., The Crisis in Darfur: Written Remark Before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (Sept. 9, 2004), at <http://www.state.gov/secretary/former/powell/remarks/36032.htm>>Google Scholar, led to the establishment of a commission of inquiry that recommended a Chapter VII referral of the situation to the ICC, see Int’l Comm’n of Inquiry on Darfur, Report to the United Nations Secretary–General Pursuant to Security Council Resolution 1564 of 18 September 2004, paras. 571–89 (Jan. 25, 2005), at <http://www.ohchr.org/english/darfur.htm>>Google Scholar. Despite misgivings about the ICC, a U.S. abstention allowed for the adoption of Security Council Resolution 1593, which referred the Darfur situation to the ICC prosecutor, see Security Council Refers Situation in Darfur, Sudan, to Prosecutor of International Criminal Court, UN Press Release SC/8351 (Mar. 31, 2005), at <http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2005/sc8351.doc.htm>>Google Scholar.

5 ICC Press Release, Communications Received by the Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC (July 16, 2003).

6 For general information about the UN peacekeeping and peace–building efforts in the DRC, see the Web site of the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo, <http://www.monuc.org>.

7 Communications Received by the Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC, supra note 5.

8 Id.

9 ICC Press Release, Prosecutor Receives Referral of the Situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo (Apr. 19, 2004)Google Scholar.

10 ICC Press Release, The Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court Opens Its Investigation (June 23, 2004)Google Scholar.

11 ICC Press Release, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court Opens an Investigation into Northern Uganda (July 29, 2004)Google Scholar.

12 See supra note 4.

13 ICC Press Release, Prosecutor Receives Referral Concerning Central African Republic (Jan. 7, 2005)Google Scholar.

14 See Human Rights Watch, Scars of Death: Children Abducted by the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda (1997). Human Rights Watch materials are available at the organization’s Web site, <http://www.hrw.org>.

15 UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Report on the Mission Undertaken by Her Office, Pursuant to Commission Resolution 2000/60, to Assess the Situation on the Ground with Regard to the Abduction of Children from Northern Uganda, paras. 12–13, UN Doc. E/CN.4/2002/86 (2001) [hereinafter UNHCHR Report on Uganda], available at <http://www.ohchr.org/english/>; see Human Rights Watch, Stolen Children: Abduction and Recruitment in Northern Uganda 4 (2003)Google Scholar [hereinafter Stolen Children]; Human Rights First, Background on the Conflict in Northern Uganda (n.d.), at <http://www.humanrightsfirst.org/international_justice/regions/uganda/uganda.htm>.

16 unhchr Report on Uganda, supra note 15, para. 13.

17 See [Int’l Criminal Court], Background Information on the Situation in Uganda (Jan. 29, 2004)Google Scholar [hereinafter ICC Background Information on Uganda].

18 As the UN high commissioner for human rights stated in a November 2001 report to the Human Rights Commission: “The LRA is devouring the lives of children in northern Uganda in order to sustain itself, given that it cannot attract young men to the rebel movement as volunteers.” unhchr Report on Uganda, supra note 15, para. 16.

19 Id., para. 14.

20 See USAID/Uganda, The Lost Children of Northern Uganda 1 (2003), at <http://www.usaid.or.ug/focus%20articles.htm>; Stolen Children, supra note 15, at 7 (2003).

21 UNHCHR Report on Uganda, supra note 15, para. 21.

22 Stephane Dujarric, Highlights of the Noon Briefing (Aug. 27, 2004), at <http://www.un.org/News/ossg/hilites/hilites_arch_main.asp>.

23 Stolen Children, supra note 15, at 2, 10.

24 Id. at 2.

25 unhchr Report on Uganda, supra note 15, para. 16.

26 Id., para. 17.

27 Id., para. 18.

28 Id.

29 Id., para. 43; Stolen Children, supra note 15, at 14.

30 Stolen Children, supra note 15, at 13.

31 Id. at 14.

32 Id.

33 UNHCHR Report on Uganda, supra note 15, para. 15.

34 ICC Background Information on Uganda, supra note 17; Global Security.Org, Lord’s Resistance Army (2005), at <http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/para/lra.htm>.

35 ICC Background Information on Uganda, supra note 17.

36 See, e.g., UN World Food Programme, The Hunger Crisis in Africa, at <http://www.wfp.org/appeals/flash_appeals/africahungeralert/>.

37 Dujarric, supra note 22.

38 ICC Background Information on Uganda, supra note 17; see Stolen Children, supra note 15, at 5.

39 Stolen Children, supra note 15, at 5.

41 See, e.g., Carter Center, Activities by Country: Uganda, at <http://www.cartercenter.org/activities/country75.htm> (section on “Waging Peace, Mediating Conflict”).

42 Stolen Children, supra note 15, at 5.

43 UNHCHR Report on Uganda, supra note 15.

44 Id., para. 51.

45 Id., para. 80.

46 Int’l Crisis Group, Northern Uganda: Understanding and Solving the Conflict 7 (Apr. 14, 2004) (Africa Report No. 77) [hereinafter Understanding and Solving the Conflict]. The reports and briefings of the International Crisis Group are available at <http://www.icg.org>.

47 President’s referral to ICC, supra note 1.

48 Acting under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, however, the Security Council may require that a state defer investigations and prosecutions to ICC jurisdiction, thus overriding the admissibility preconditions of Article 17 of the Rome Statute in accordance with Article 103 of the Charter (defining the priority of UN obligations). Security Council Resolution 1593 (Mar. 31, 2005) referring the Darfur situation to the ICC does not expressly make such a determination in the case of Sudan.

49 Human Rights Watch Press Release, ICC: Investigate All Sides in Uganda (Feb. 4, 2004).

50 Understanding and Solving the Conflict, supra note 46, at iii.

51 Museveni Pledges to Cooperate with ICC to Probe Uganda War Crimes, Agence France–Presse, Feb. 25, 2004 Google Scholar. President Museveni’s remark is quoted by Moreno–Ocampo (with the BBC as his source) in his remarks to the Committee of Legal Advisers on Public International Law (Mar. 18, 2004), at <http://www.coe.int/T/E/Legal_affairs/Legal_co–operation/Public_international_law/>.

52 President’s referral to ICC, supra note 1.

53 Article 8(2) of the ICTR Statute provides:

The International Tribunal for Rwanda shall have the primacy over the national courts of all States. At any stage of the procedure, the International Tribunal for Rwanda may formally request national courts to defer to its competence in accordance with the present Statute and the Rules of Procedure and Evidence of the International Tribunal for Rwanda.

Statute of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, SC Res. 955, annex (Nov. 8, 1994), 33 ILM 1602 (1994), available at <http://www.ictr.org/ENGLISH/basicdocs/statute.html>>Google Scholar. Article 9(2) of the ICTY Statute provides:

The International Tribunal shall have primacy over national courts. At any stage of the procedure, the International Tribunal may formally request national courts to defer to the competence of the International Tribunal in accordance with the present Statute and the Rules of Procedure and Evidence of the International Tribunal.

Statute of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, SC Res. 827, annex (May 25, 1993), 32 ILM 1203 (1993)Google Scholar, as amended May 13, 1998, Nov. 30, 2000, May 17 & Aug. 14, 2002, & May 19, 2003, available at <http://www.un.org/icty/legaldoc/index.htm>.

54 [Author’s note: Article 20(3) refers to the ne bis in idem principle.]

55 Holmes, John T., Complementarity: National Courts Versus the ICC, in 1 The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court: A Commentary 667, 668 (Cassese, Antonio, Gaeta, Paola, & John R.W.D., Jones eds., 2002)Google Scholar.

56 Id. at 673.

57 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, May 23, 1969, Art. 32, 1155 UNTS 331.

58 Report of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Establishment of an International Criminal Court, UN CAOR, 50th Sess., Supp. No. 22, para. 47, UN Doc. A/50/22 (1995).

59 Id.

60 Id.

61 President’s referral to ICC, supra note 1. For a general discussion of Uganda’s intent to prosecute LRA leadership, see Integrated Regional Information Networks, UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, New Amnesty Law to Exclude Top LRA Leaders (Dec. 16, 2003), at <http://www.irinnews.org>.

62 See, e.g., U.S. Dep’t of State, Background Note on Uganda (Jan. 2005), at <http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/2963.htm>.

63 Holmes, supra note 55, at 678.

64 Luis, Moreno–Ocampo, Statement of the Prosecutor Luis Moreno–Ocampo to Diplomatic Corps (Feb. 12, 2004), at <http://www.icc–cpi.int/library/organs/otp/OTP.SM20040212-EN.pdf>>Google Scholar.

65 See Volqvartz, Josefine, ICC Under Fire over Uganda Probe (Feb. 23, 2005), at <http://www.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/africa/02/23/uganda.volqvartz/>>Google Scholar; Uganda Rebels Take More Children, British Broadcasting Corp. [hereinafter BBC] (Mar. 18, 2005), at <http://news.bbc.co.Uk/2/hi/africa/4361115.stm>>Google Scholar; see also Ross, Will, Ugandans Ask ICC to Spare Rebels (March 16, 2005), at <http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/4352901.stm>>Google Scholar.

66 Ross, supra note 65.

67 Volqvartz, supra note 65.

68 Id.

69 Understanding and Solving the Conflict, supra note 46, at 7.

70 Id.

71 Int’l Crisis Group, Shock Therapy for Northern Uganda’s Peace Process 5 (Apr. 21, 2005) (Africa Briefing No. 23) [hereinafter Shock Therapy].

72 UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Consolidated Appeals Process: Uganda 2004, at 1 (Nov. 2003), at <http://ochadms.unog.ch>.

73 Ugandan Forces ‘Kill 25 Rebels,’ BBC (Sept. 19, 2004), at <http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/3670944.stm>.

74 Uganda 2005, supra note 3, at 1.

75 See Uganda Rebel Commander Surrenders, BBC (Feb. 16, 2005), at <http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/low/africa/4270819.stm>>Google Scholar.

76 Museveni Rejects War Mediation, BBC (Sept. 7, 2004), at <http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/3634072.stm>>Google Scholar.

77 See Uganda Rebel Commander Surrenders, BBC (Feb. 16, 2005), at <http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/4270819.stm>>Google Scholar.

78 Ross, Will, Joy as Ugandan Abductees Return (Oct. 4, 2004), at <http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/3712892.stm>>Google Scholar.

79 Uganda 2005, supra note 3, at 5.

80 Id.

81 Volqvartz, supra note 65.

82 ICC Press Release, Statements by ICC Chief Prosecutor and the Visiting Delegation of Acholi Leaders from Northern Uganda (Mar. 18, 2005)Google Scholar; see ICC Press Release, Joint Statement by ICC Chief Prosecutor and the Visiting Delegation of Lango, Acholi, Iteso and Madi Community Leaders from Northern Uganda (Apr. 16, 2005)Google Scholar.

83 Shock Therapy, supra note 71, at 1.

84 Id. at 5.

85 Volqvartz, supra note 65.

86 President’s referral to ICC, supra note 1.

87 Uganda 2005, supra note 3, at 5.

88 Uganda Rebels Take More Children, supra note 65.

89 Shock Therapy, supra note 71.

90 Understanding and Solving the Conflict, supra note 46, at i.

91 Ross, supra note 65.

92 Understanding and Solving the Conflict, supra note 46, at ii.

93 Id. at 5.

94 Id. at 8.

95 Volqvartz, supra note 65.

96 Article 3(3) of the Rome Statute provides that although the seat of the Court is at The Hague, the “Court may sit elsewhere, whenever it considers it desirable.”

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