African Studies Lord's Resistance Army
by
Patrick Vinck, Phuong N. Pham, Niamh Gibbons
  • LAST REVIEWED: 06 May 2016
  • LAST MODIFIED: 30 September 2013
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199846733-0122

Introduction

Since 1987, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a violent rebel group headed by Joseph Kony, has been terrorizing the population of northern Uganda and the neighboring countries of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Central African Republic (CAR), and Southern Sudan. The LRA was created initially as a rebellion against Yoweri Museveni’s government, after Museveni, from southern Uganda, seized power from the northern-dominated government and army of then president Tito Okello in 1986. Revenge killings and massacres against people of the North following Museveni’s coup fueled a long-standing divide between Uganda’s north and south. Several rebellions emerged in the North with popular support, most notably the Holy Spirit Movement (HSM), led by Alice Auma, who claimed to be possessed by a spirit called Lakwena and saw herself as a messenger of God. The HSM was ultimately defeated. Alice’s father, Severino Lukoya, attempted to continue the movement, but he was ultimately arrested. Joseph Kony emerged in this context as the leader of his rebel movement, the Lord’s Resistance Army, initially with the support of army veterans. Kony, a spirit medium possibly related to Alice Auma, saw himself as a liberator of the Acholi people (a large ethnic group in northern Uganda), with his own beliefs and rituals. Kony’s LRA, however, failed to sustain any initial support from the population and local leaders because of its brutality. The group and its leader have also been consistently perceived as lacking a political agenda, although the LRA has issued political statements over the years. These have not been commonly understood and were overshadowed by its professed spiritual goals and seemingly gratuitous violence against civilians. Accusing the population of aiding the government in seeking his defeat, Kony increasingly turned his military campaign against Acholi civilians, and later against civilians in neighboring regions and countries. Abduction became the primary means of recruitment, with a minimum of sixty thousand civilians forcibly conscripted to serve as soldiers, porters, forced sexual partners, and domestic servants. Many more were abducted for short-term forced labor. More than 1.8 million people had been displaced into squalid camps by the end of 2005. The Ugandan army has also allegedly recruited children, has committed torture and killings against civilians, and has destroyed civilian targets. The Ugandan government’s policies in response to the LRA insurgency—particularly the relocation of the population of conflict-affected districts into camps—has also been severely criticized. In response to the violence, a number of attempts have been made to end the war, either through dialogue or through military means. No peace agreement has ever been finalized, however, and the LRA and its leader have managed to escape any government military action, regrouping and rebuilding through massive attacks on civilians and the use of abduction as a form of forced recruitment. A 2000 law offering amnesty for any Ugandan who engaged in armed rebellion helped bring low-ranking LRA members out of the movement. As the war continued, the office of the prosecutor at the International Criminal Court (ICC) began to investigate the situation, on the basis of a referral from the Ugandan government. In 2005 the ICC released warrants for the arrest for Kony and his top commanders. By 2006 the LRA had withdrawn its forces from northern Uganda and had moved to the neighboring countries of the DRC, CAR, and Southern Sudan. The movement continues to carry out attacks against civilians, with no clear military goal beyond maintaining its own survival.

General Overviews

Known for its brutality, the Lord’s Resistance Army is nevertheless shrouded in mystery. Gersony 1997 provides an early account of the LRA’s establishment and early operations. Doom and Vlassenroot 1999 provides further detail on the origins of the LRA within the broader Ugandan historical context, emphasizing the role of spirits in shaping Kony’s vision. Behrend 1999 is a similar approach to Alice Auma’s Holy Spirit Movement (HSM), to which Kony claimed to have familial as well as spiritual connections, although this is subject to debate. For a more detailed historical and cultural context, Girling 1960 offers an anthropological study of the Acholi ethnic group in which the LRA is rooted. However, the LRA did not exclusively include or affect this group. Ehrenreich 1998 assesses various competing narratives, from insanity to geopolitical conspiracy, that have been used to explain the prolonged conflict. Allen and Vlassenroot 2010 provides a more recent overview of the LRA conflict, including the involvement of the International Criminal Court (ICC). Rather than focusing on the LRA and its leader, Finnström 2008 presents an overview of the conflict from the perspective of those living through the war, and an overview of the LRA’s political agenda, arguing against the common description of the group as lacking clearly articulated goals. Dunn 2004 highlights some of the Ugandan military failures in seeking to end the conflict. The Refugee Law Project, based within the Faculty of Law at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda, has produced a number of reports about the conflict with the LRA, most notably Refugee Law Project 2004, a working paper based on consultation about the causes and consequences of the war.

  • Allen, Tim, and Koen Vlassenroot, eds. The Lord’s Resistance Army: Myths and Realities. London: Zed, 2010.

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    Edited volume with comprehensive overview and analysis of the LRA movement, roots of the conflict, ideology, political impact, and consequences for civilians up to 2010, as well as an interview with Joseph Kony. Also examines the Juba peace process and the ICC indictments, and the ensuing debate on the interaction of peace and justice.

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    • Behrend, Heike. Alice Lakwena & the Holy Spirits. Translated by Mitch Cohen. Eastern African Studies. Kampala, Uganda: Fountain, 1999.

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      History of the HSM and its organization under Alice Auma, who claimed to be possessed by a spiritual force known as Lakwena, in the social and historical context of Uganda.

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      • Doom, Ruddy, and Koen Vlassenroot. “Kony’s Message: A new Koine? The Lord’s Resistance Army in Northern Uganda.” African Affairs 98.390 (1999): 5–36.

        DOI: 10.1093/oxfordjournals.afraf.a008002Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

        Background on the origins of the LRA in Ugandan history, including the status of the Acholi as an already war-weary and marginalized people at the time of the movement’s emergence, and progress of the conflict, peace efforts, and international dimensions up to the article’s publication in 1999. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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        • Dunn, Kevin C. “Uganda: The Lord’s Resistance Army.” In Special Issue: ICTs, “Virtual Colonisation” & Political Economy. Review of African Political Economy 31.99 (2004): 139–142.

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          Background on the LRA movement’s formation and motivations, as well as an account of the movement’s military fortunes, political impact, and international connections during the period from 1999 to 2004. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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          • Ehrenreich, Rosa. “The Stories We Must Tell: Ugandan Children and the Atrocities of the Lord’s Resistance Army.” Africa Today 45.1 (1998): 79–102.

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            Essay comparing and contrasting various narratives around the root causes of the conflict and its impact on the population.

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            • Finnström, Sverker. Living with Bad Surroundings: War, History, and Everyday Moments in Northern Uganda. Cultures and Practice of Violence. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2008.

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              Anthropological approach to the LRA conflict, attempting to portray the reality of those living through the war, particularly the generation born after the conflict’s emergence. It also assesses the conflict’s root causes, with specific focus on the Acholi experience of violence and aspirations for peace, and examines the political agenda of the LRA.

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              • Gersony, Robert. The Anguish of Northern Uganda: Result of a Field-Based Assessment of the Civil Conflicts in Northern Uganda. Kampala, Uganda: USAID Mission, Kampala, 1997.

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                A study of the conflict in northern Uganda’s Acholi and West Nile Districts, on the basis of interviews with three hundred individuals, including community and political leaders and displaced families. Covers the rebel movements directly preceding the LRA, the movement’s establishment and early operations, and government responses.

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                • Girling, Frank Knowles. The Acholi of Uganda. Colonial Research Studies 30. London: H. M. Stationery Office, 1960.

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                  Ethnographic account of the Acholi society, described as a stateless society lacking centralized judicial or executive bodies.

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                  • Refugee Law Project. Behind the Violence: Causes, Consequences and the Search for Solutions to the War in Northern Uganda. Refugee Law Project Working Paper 11. Kampala, Uganda: Refugee Law Project, Faculty of Law, Makerere University, 2004.

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                    Overview of the conflict, the LRA as an organization, and the causes and consequences of the war, on the basis of interviews with opinion leaders and community members, as well as literature review. Analysis of potential solutions to the conflict as they appeared at the time of publication in 2004.

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                    Root Causes

                    The literature on the aims and characteristics of the LRA focuses on the millenarian views of the group and the deep political, social, cultural, and economic grievances between northern and southern Uganda, beginning in the colonial period. In addition to Allen and Vlassenroot 2010, cited under General Overviews, Doom and Vlassenroot 1999 outlines the historical and social grievances at the root of the rebellions in northern Uganda, a topic revisited in Bøås 2004, which examines this cleavage within the broader regional narratives of the wars in the Great Lakes region. Several authors discuss the movement’s spiritual underpinnings: Ward 2001 analyzes the role played by churches and Christianity, both as a way to articulate grievances and as a way to cope with the violence, while Van Acker 2004 recognizes the LRA’s initial political goals but emphasizes the importance of Kony’s beliefs and the logic of purification of the society. Cline 2003 focuses almost exclusively on the role of beliefs and complex rituals both as a justification and a mode of operation for the LRA. Finnström 2008, cited under General Overviews, argues against such limited views, making the case for the existence of LRA’s political agenda. Jackson 2002 explores greed as a motivation for the LRA, a factor generally dismissed. Recognizing the absence of natural, economic, and social endowments supporting the LRA. Buhaug, et al. 2009 examines the characteristics of the LRA and of the conflict that explain the protracted nature of the war, including the relative weakness of the LRA and low threat level to the government. Branch 2005 also examines the reasons behind the conflict’s prolongation, by focusing on relations among the Acholi, the LRA, and the Ugandan government.

                    • Bøås, Morten. “Uganda in the Regional War Zone: Meta-narratives, Pasts and Presents.” Journal of Contemporary African Studies 22.3 (2004): 283–303.

                      DOI: 10.1080/0258900042000283476Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                      In this article, the author discusses the causes of conflicts in Uganda, including the LRA rebellion in northern Uganda, finding key motivations in the metanarratives employed by various conflict actors. The article looks at Uganda’s conflicts from the perspective of broader conflict in the Great Lakes region. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                      • Branch, Adam. “Neither Peace nor Justice: Political Violence and the Peasantry in Northern Uganda, 1986–1998.” African Studies Quarterly 8.2 (2005): 1–31.

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                        An analysis of relations between the Acholi population and the LRA, and between the Acholi and the Ugandan government, throughout the conflict. Outlines also some of the implications of those relationships for the conflict’s prolongation.

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                        • Buhaug, Halvard, Scott Gates, and Päivi Lujala. “Geography, Rebel Capability, and the Duration of Civil Conflict.” Journal of Conflict Resolution 53.4 (2009): 544–569.

                          DOI: 10.1177/0022002709336457Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                          An analysis of the role of the geographic location of a conflict and the strength of rebel forces in determining the duration of civil conflicts, using the LRA as a case study to support the hypothesis that conflicts involving weaker rebel groups last longer. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                          • Cline, Lawrence. “Spirits and the Cross: Religiously Based Violent Movements in Uganda.” Small Wars & Insurgencies 14.2 (2003): 113–130.

                            DOI: 10.1080/09592310412331300706Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                            A discussion of the role of charismatic spirit mediums such as Joseph Kony, and the use of complex rituals as a justification for conflict and as a powerful means to mobilize and motivate followers. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                            • Doom, Ruddy, and Koen Vlassenroot. “Kony’s Message: A New Koine? The Lord’s Resistance Army in Northern Uganda.” African Affairs 98.390 (1999): 5–36.

                              DOI: 10.1093/oxfordjournals.afraf.a008002Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                              The authors situate the LRA movement in its historical context, looking at the tension between northern and southern Uganda, the resulting damage to Acholi society, and the militarization of Ugandan politics as elements in inciting the LRA and its predecessor rebellions. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                              • Jackson, Paul. “The March of the Lord’s Resistance Army: Greed or Grievance in Northern Uganda?” Small Wars & Insurgencies 13.3 (2002): 29–52.

                                DOI: 10.1080/09592310208559196Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                In this article, the author examines different forms of conflict analysis and asserts that greed—or economic motivations—was as important in motivating the LRA conflict as historical or cultural grievances. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                • Van Acker, Frank. “Uganda and the Lord’s Resistance Army: The New Order No One Ordered.” African Affairs 103.412 (2004): 335–357.

                                  DOI: 10.1093/afraf/adh044Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                  This article attempts to account for the motivations of the LRA movement and root causes of the conflict. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                  • Ward, Kevin. “‘The Armies of the Lord’: Christianity, Rebels and the State in Northern Uganda, 1986–1999.” In Special Issue: Religion and War in the 1990s. Journal of Religion in Africa 31.2 (2001): 187–221.

                                    DOI: 10.1163/157006601X00121Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                    An examination of the role of churches in the LRA conflict as potential collaborators in political upheaval, in seeking to resolve the conflict, and in providing relief for the community. It also provides some analysis of the spiritual underpinnings of the LRA movement and the Acholi relationship to Christian churches. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                    Tactics

                                    Van Acker 2004 mentions briefly the use of violence as a tactic to instill terror and control the population, a topic further explored in Vinci 2005. Bevan 2007 equates the practice of abduction to a form of resource exploitation in order to maintain influence and political capital in the region. Otunnu 2006 controversially links the LRA to an alleged genocidal tactic used by the government of Uganda against the Acholi.

                                    • Bevan, James. “The Myth of Madness: Cold Rationality and ‘Resource’ Plunder by the Lord’s Resistance Army.” In Special Issue: The Origins and Effectiveness of Insurgent and Counterinsurgent Strategies. Civil Wars 9.4 (2007): 343–358.

                                      DOI: 10.1080/13698240701699433Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                      This paper examines the use of abduction by the LRA as a form of exploitation in which the population is the only form of resource available in northern Uganda, providing the LRA with political capital and regional influence. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                      • Otunnu, Olara A. “The Secret Genocide.” Foreign Policy, 9 June 2006, 44–46.

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                                        Argues that reports of atrocities of the LRA were used to mask genocidal tactics used by the government of Uganda against the Acholi population in the North.

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                                        • Van Acker, Frank. “Uganda and the Lord’s Resistance Army: The New Order No One Ordered.” African Affairs 103.412 (2004): 335–357.

                                          DOI: 10.1093/afraf/adh044Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                          The author situates the LRA movement in its historical context, looking at the tension between northern and southern Uganda, the resulting damage to Acholi society, and the militarization of Ugandan politics as elements in inciting the LRA and its predecessor rebellions. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                          • Vinci, Anthony. “The Strategic Use of Fear by the Lord’s Resistance Army.” Small Wars & Insurgencies 16.3 (2005): 360–381.

                                            DOI: 10.1080/09592310500221336Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                            A conflict analysis addressing the motivations behind the LRA’s brutal tactics, from a strategic perspective. The author concludes that the LRA has created a climate of fear in order to magnify the impact of its actions, to survive as an organization, and to advance its political and military objectives. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                            International Dimensions

                                            Early on, the LRA moved across borders in a region with no or little government control. Prunier 2004 examines the broader context of proxy warfare between Uganda and Sudan, which used the LRA as one of its surrogates to fight the Ugandan army. Schomerus 2007 provides a more detailed account of the LRA’s activities in Sudan. A follow-up article, Schomerus 2012, focuses both on the LRA and the Ugandan army atrocities against civilians and economic pursuits fostered by the conflict. The more recent activities of the LRA in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Central African Republic have yet to be discussed in the academic literature. Human Rights Watch 2009 and Human Rights Watch 2010 provide detailed accounts of LRA violence in the DRC. International Crisis Group 2011 and International Crisis Group 2010 focus on strategies to end the conflict, with a focus on its international dimension. Schmitz 2013 examines shifts in the stated goals, strategies, and resource mobilization of the LRA as a result of international and transnational influence.

                                            • Human Rights Watch. The Christmas Massacres: LRA Attacks on Civilians in Northern Congo. New York: Human Rights Watch, 2009.

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                                              A report on LRA violence against civilians in northern Congo in late 2008 and early 2009. The report estimates more than 865 civilians were killed and at least 160 children were abducted. Includes accounts of massacres carried out during communities’ Christmas celebrations.

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                                              • Human Rights Watch. Trail of Death: LRA Atrocities in Northeastern Congo. New York: Human Rights Watch, 2010.

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                                                A report documenting atrocities carried out by the LRA in Congo in 2009 and early 2010, particularly a massacre in the Makombo area of Haute Uele District.

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                                                • International Crisis Group. LRA: A Regional Strategy beyond Killing Kony. Africa Report 157. Nairobi, Kenya, and Brussels: International Crisis Group, 2010.

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                                                  A report on the LRA’s progress from a Uganda-based insurgency to a regional threat following the collapse of the Juba peace talks and the Ugandan army’s failed counterinsurgency push in 2008. Includes recommendations for protecting civilians and ending the conflict.

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                                                  • International Crisis Group. The Lord’s Resistance Army: End Game? Africa Report 182. Nairobi, Kenya, and Brussels: International Crisis Group, 2011.

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                                                    An analysis of military and political strategies, and civilian interventions, needed in order to end LRA violence against civilians in DRC and elsewhere. Includes examination of the roles of various domestic, regional, and international actors and recommendations for more-effective action by them.

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                                                    • Prunier, Gérard. “Rebel Movements and Proxy Warfare: Uganda, Sudan and the Congo (1986–99).” African Affairs 103.412 (2004): 359–383.

                                                      DOI: 10.1093/afraf/adh050Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                      The article discusses the proxy war waged between Sudan and Uganda through support for rebel groups and guerrilla organizations who either fought each other or fought the armies of their sponsor’s enemy. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                      • Schmitz, Hans Peter. “Rebels without a Cause? Transnational Diffusion and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), 1986–2011.” In Transnational Dynamics of Civil War. Edited by Jeffrey T. Checkel, 120–148. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013.

                                                        DOI: 10.1017/CBO9781139179089Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                        A discussion of the impact of international or transnational interventions on the LRA’s military strategies, levels of violence, and motivations in the course of the conflict.

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                                                        • Schomerus, Mareike. The Lord’s Resistance Army in Sudan: A History and Overview. HSBA Working Paper 8. Geneva, Switzerland: Small Arms Survey, 2007.

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                                                          Report on the history of the LRA in Sudan and the status of the peace process at time of publication in 2007, on the basis of interviews with Ugandan and Sudanese civilians, community leaders, members of the military, Sudanese politicians, and LRA representatives, including Joseph Kony.

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                                                          • Schomerus, Mareike. “‘They Forget What They Came For’: Uganda’s Army in Sudan.” In Special Issue: Uganda from the Margins. Journal of Eastern African Studies 6.1 (2012): 124–153.

                                                            DOI: 10.1080/17531055.2012.664707Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                            Presents the author’s six years of research on the role of the Ugandan army in Southern Sudan. According to local communities, leaders, and others interviewed for this article, the Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) has never seriously pursued the LRA in Sudan but has been involved in atrocities against civilians and economic pursuits fostered by the conflict. The Ugandan army’s presence in Sudan has complicated the conflicts in both countries and has undermined both sets of peace efforts. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                            Impact on Civilians

                                                            The LRA conflict has had a profound impact on civilian life in northern Uganda and other LRA-affected areas in Uganda, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and the Central African Republic (CAR). LRA atrocities have included both large-scale massacres and low-level attacks on civilian populations. Survivors have suffered torture and mistreatment, including mutilation and sexual and gender-based violence. Forced conscription, often the abduction of children, has been a signature crime of the LRA. The issues of conscription and abduction, and subsequent demobilization and reintegration efforts, have generated a significant body of research, summarized in the subsections below. The conflict has also resulted in large-scale population displacement either due to civilians fleeing violence or as a result of government policies aimed at creating protected areas. The Ugandan army has also been accused of mistreatment of civilians, and government policy has been criticized for forcing the displaced into overcrowded, unhealthful conditions in camps. The conflict and persistent violence have also had far-reaching effects on the health and mental health of the population.

                                                            Violence and Abduction

                                                            The LRA is renowned for its brutality against civilians. Vinck, et al. 2007 provides one of the few detailed studies of the prevalence of various forms of violence committed by the LRA. Dolan 2009 highlights the atrocities committed not only by the LRA, but also by the Ugandan army. Okello and Hovil 2007 provides a rare overview of gender-based violence, while Annan and Brier 2010 discusses gender-based violence both during and after forced conscription of girls and young women. The phenomenon of abduction and coercion into the LRA is perhaps the most widely discussed form of violence. De Temmerman 2001 provides an early account of abduction by the LRA, from the perspective of young girls known as the Aboke girls, after the name of the school where they were abducted. Pham, et al. 2008 uses data from reception centers set up to reintegrate former abductees to estimate the numbers and characteristics associated with abduction. Vindevogel, et al. 2011 uses a similar approach, adding information on exposure to violence among abductees, while Allen and Schomerus 2006 examines the reception center process as well as priorities for formerly abducted persons.

                                                            • Allen, Tim, and Mareike Schomerus. A Hard Homecoming: Lessons Learned from the Reception Center Process in Northern Uganda; An Independent Study. Washington, DC: US Agency for International Development and United Nations Children’s Fund, 2006.

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                                                              Independent report commissioned by the United States Agency for International Development and the United Nations Children’s Fund to examine the needs and experiences of formerly abducted persons and the process of reintegration of former abductees and combatants through reception centers.

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                                                              • Annan, Jeannie, and Moriah Brier. “The Risk of Return: Intimate Partner Violence in Northern Uganda’s Armed Conflict.” In Special Issue: Conflict, Violence, and Health. Social Science & Medicine 70.1 (2010): 152–159.

                                                                DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2009.09.027Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                A qualitative study of the association between the violence perpetrated against women forcibly recruited by the LRA during and after their release, including intimate-partner violence and gender-based discrimination.

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                                                                • De Temmerman, Els. Aboke Girls: Children Abducted in Northern Uganda. Kampala, Uganda: Fountain, 2001.

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                                                                  A book recounting how girls abducted by the LRA in 1996 from St. Mary’s College, Aboke, escaped their captivity, as well as the experiences of members of the LRA—also child soldiers—involved in the abductions.

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                                                                  • Dolan, Chris. Social Torture: The Case of Northern Uganda, 1986–2006. Human Rights in Context 4. New York: Berghahn, 2009.

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                                                                    A study of the scope and nature of the violence in the conflict between the LRA and the government of Uganda, highlighting the atrocities committed against civilians by all the actors in the conflict.

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                                                                    • Okello, Moses Chrispus, and Lucy Hovil. “Confronting the Reality of Gender-Based Violence in Northern Uganda.” International Journal of Transitional Justice 1.3 (2007): 433–443.

                                                                      DOI: 10.1093/ijtj/ijm036Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                      Study of the various forms and dynamics of gender-based violence (GBV) in the northern Ugandan context, finding that current responses in terms of policy and assistance are inadequate and that transitional justice measures must seek to address conflict-related GBV, informed by the local context. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                      • Pham, Phuong N., Patrick Vinck, and Eric Stover. “The Lord’s Resistance Army and Forced Conscription in Northern Uganda.” Human Rights Quarterly 30.2 (2008): 404–411.

                                                                        DOI: 10.1353/hrq.0.0007Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                        Analysis of registration data on more than twenty-five thousand children and youth who entered reception centers for formerly abducted persons in northern Uganda since the mid-1990s. Key findings include data on the age and gender of returnees, the length of their captivity, and correlations between these variables. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                        • Vinck, Patrick, Phuong N. Pham, Eric Stover, and Harvey M. Weinstein. “Exposure to War Crimes and Implications for Peace Building in Northern Uganda.” JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association 298.5 (2007): 543–554.

                                                                          DOI: 10.1001/jama.298.5.543Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                          Assessment using data drawn from a population-based survey, presenting levels of exposure to war-related violence and the extent to which these variables are associated with respondents’ views about peace.

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                                                                          • Vindevogel, Sofie, Kathleen Coppens, Ilse Derluyn, Maarten De Schryver, Gerrit Loots, and Eric Broekaert. “Forced Conscription of Children during Armed Conflict: Experiences of Former Child Soldiers in Northern Uganda.” Child Abuse & Neglect 35.7 (2011): 551–562.

                                                                            DOI: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2011.03.011Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                            A study looking at the war experiences of former child soldiers as forms of child abuse during captivity. Data are drawn from demographic information gathered from care and rehabilitation centers in northern Uganda. Variables in war experience are found to suggest different patterns in abduction by the LRA and types of exposure to violence among abductees. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                            Displacement

                                                                            Aside from abduction, forced displacement is possibly the second most well-known feature of the conflict. There is, however, a paucity of research on the topic. Dolan 2009 most notably discusses the dramatic consequences of the encampment policy instated by the government of Uganda. Bøås and Hatløy 2005 is a profiling study of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), describing the squalid living conditions prevalent in camps. Miller 2006 reports on the IDP policy enforced by the government of Uganda, offering community-based suggestions for improvement. Vinck and Pham 2009 examines the decision-making process for resettlement among IDPs as violence subsided in northern Uganda.

                                                                            Reintegration of Former Combatants and Abductees

                                                                            Paralleling the literature on abduction, a number of studies examine the process of reintegrating former abductees. Pham, et al. 2009 examines the association among the challenges of returning home, exposure to violence, and mental health status. Allen and Schomerus 2006, cited under Violence and Abduction, provides a broad overview of the functioning of reception centers. Corbin 2008 uses mixed methods to provide an in-depth discussion of the role of the family and the harassment of former child soldiers by community members. Similar accounts are provided in Amone-P’Olak 2007 and Annan, et al. 2009, which look at the transition from being a rebel to being a formerly abducted child and a member of the community.

                                                                            Health

                                                                            Considering the widespread violence against civilians during the LRA conflict, a relatively limited body of literature has emerged discussing the impact of the violence on health. Health status and risk factors among IDPs were studied in Roberts, et al. 2009, outlining the impact on health of conflict-induced deprivation of basic goods and services, traumatic events, and fear. Accorsi, et al. 2005 examines the burden of infectious disease and war-related injuries fluctuating with the dynamic of the conflict, by using discharge data from a major hospital in northern Uganda. Liebling-Kalifani, et al. 2008 provides an overview of the health consequences of the war on women, especially relating to sexual violence and torture.

                                                                            • Accorsi, Sandro, Massimo Fabiani, Barbara Nattabi, et al. “The Disease Profile of Poverty: Morbidity and Mortality in Northern Uganda in the Context of War, Population Displacement and HIV/AIDS.” Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene 99.3 (2005): 226–233.

                                                                              DOI: 10.1016/j.trstmh.2004.09.008Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                              Study of patterns and trends in infectious diseases, war-related injuries, and malnutrition, by using a retrospective analysis of discharge records of Lacor Hospital, northern Uganda, during the 1992–2002 period. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                              • Liebling-Kalifani, Helen, Ruth Ojiambo-Ochieng, Angela Marshall, Juliet Were-Oguttu, Seggane Musisi, and Eugene Kinyanda. “Violence against Women in Northern Uganda: The Neglected Health Consequences of War.” Journal of International Women’s Studies 9.3 (2008): 174–192.

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                                                                                Review of the effects of the war in northern Uganda on women’s health and mental health, with a focus on the consequences of sexual violence and torture.

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                                                                                • Roberts, Bayard, K. Felix Ocaka, John Browne, Thomas Oyok, and Egbert Sondorp. “Factors Associated with the Health Status of Internally Displaced Persons in Northern Uganda.” Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health 63.3 (2009): 227–232.

                                                                                  DOI: 10.1136/jech.2008.076356Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                  A cross-sectional survey in IDP camps that examines the physical and mental health of respondents and its association with demographic, socioeconomic, and trauma exposure. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                  Mental Health

                                                                                  A significantly larger body of literature exists about the adverse consequences on mental health caused by the conflict and the atrocities perpetrated by the LRA and other actors. Derluyn, et al. 2004 provides one of the first studies of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in former Ugandan child soldiers. Klasen, et al. 2010 also explores symptoms of PTSD and depression, as well as behavioral and emotional problems among former abducted children. Betancourt, et al. 2009 uses a qualitative method to examine mental health problems among children, focusing on those displaced by the war. The study emphasizes locally defined syndromes, echoing a concern about the validity of using scales to assess mental health problems that are not culturally appropriate. Ertl, et al. 2011 validates mental health assessments for this population. Vinck, et al. 2007 examines the prevalence both of symptoms of depression and PTSD among the adult population exposed to the conflict. The results were corroborated in Roberts, et al. 2008.

                                                                                  Health Interventions

                                                                                  A number of studies evaluated interventions aimed at addressing mental health problems. Bolton, et al. 2007 presents a randomized controlled trial design to evaluate psychotherapy-based and activity-based interventions to reduce depression, anxiety, and conduct problems. Verdeli, et al. 2008 examines the impact of group interpersonal psychotherapy on depression, and Ertl, et al. 2011 examines community-implemented trauma therapy. Outside the range of direct interventions, Weierstall, et al. 2012 finds a mitigating effect of higher appetitive aggression on symptoms of PTSD.

                                                                                  Peace and Transitional Justice

                                                                                  The literature discusses a range of policies available to achieve peace and to deal with the heritage of violence committed by the LRA. The literature includes a debate around the risks that seeking criminal accountability posed to the peace process. Some authors argue that traditional justice mechanisms are viable local alternatives to criminal justice.

                                                                                  Peace and the International Criminal Court

                                                                                  Northern Uganda was the first case investigated by the office of the prosecutor at the International Criminal Court (ICC). The involvement of the ICC generated major debates around the relative importance of seeking justice while also attempting to achieve peace. Allen 2006 provides a general overview of the involvement of the ICC in northern Uganda. Clark 2010 directly addresses the peace versus justice debate in northern Uganda. Several articles examine the process that led to the referral of the case of northern Uganda and its implications: Akhavan 2005 focuses on the circumstances leading to the referral, while Happold 2007 examines legal and policy challenges resulting from the referral, and Nouwen and Werner 2010 examines the political dimensions surrounding it. Apuuli 2004 discusses the legal issues the ICC would likely face in its investigation, and reactions to the arrest warrants are discussed in Moy 2006. Uganda presents a series of surveys conducted by Phuong Pham and colleagues on perception and attitudes about the ICC and transitional justice in general.

                                                                                  • Akhavan, Payam. “The Lord’s Resistance Army Case: Uganda’s Submission of the First State Referral to the International Criminal Court.” American Journal of International Law 99.2 (2005): 403–421.

                                                                                    DOI: 10.2307/1562505Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                    An analysis of the circumstances surrounding Uganda’s referral of the situation in the north of the country to the ICC, including jurisdictional issues and implications of the referral for the court. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                    • Allen, Tim. Trial Justice: The International Criminal Court and the Lord’s Resistance Army. African Arguments. London: Zed, 2006.

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                                                                                      Book about the involvement of the ICC in the LRA conflict, looking at the origins and legal underpinnings of the court, the background and evolution of the conflict, its consequences and peace efforts, and the challenges faced by the ICC in its investigation in northern Uganda.

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                                                                                      • Apuuli, Kasaija Phillip. “The International Criminal Court (ICC) and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) Insurgency in Northern Uganda.” Criminal Law Forum 15.4 (2004): 391–409.

                                                                                        DOI: 10.1007/s10609-005-2232-4Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                        Written shortly after Uganda’s referral to the ICC, this article provides background on the LRA conflict and alleged crimes committed, as well as some of the legal issues the court would likely face in its investigation. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                        • Clark, Janine Natalya. “The ICC, Uganda and the LRA: Re-framing the Debate.” In Special Issue: Life after Thirty—the History Workshop. African Studies 69.1 (2010): 141–160.

                                                                                          DOI: 10.1080/00020181003647256Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                          Analysis of the relationship between peace and justice in northern Uganda and the status of the ICC indictments. Argues that peace and justice should be seen as mutually reinforcing rather than exclusive, and that traditional justice should complement rather than replace criminal justice. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                          • Happold, Matthew. “The International Criminal Court and the Lord’s Resistance Army.” Melbourne Journal of International Law 8 (2007): 159–184.

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                                                                                            A commentary on the legal and policy issues raised by Uganda’s self-referral of the situation in northern Uganda to the ICC, as well as aspects of the ICC investigation up to 2007. It includes discussion of the referral, the ICC prosecutor’s criteria for case selection, the arrest warrants and court proceedings, and an assessment of how the Uganda situation may have affected the ICC’s credibility and effectiveness as an institution.

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                                                                                            • Moy, H. Abigail. “The International Criminal Court’s Arrest Warrants and Uganda’s Lord’s Resistance Army: Renewing the Debate over Amnesty and Complementarity.” Harvard Human Rights Journal 19 (2006): 267–299.

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                                                                                              An account of the background and reactions to the ICC arrest warrants for the LRA leadership and their legal implications. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                              • Nouwen, Sarah M. H., and Wouter G. Werner. “Doing Justice to the Political: The International Criminal Court in Uganda and Sudan.” European Journal of International Law 21.4 (2010): 941–965.

                                                                                                DOI: 10.1093/ejil/chq064Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                On the basis of interviews with key actors in the Ugandan and Sudanese legal sectors, this article examines political dimensions of the ICC interventions in both countries, with particular focus on domestic political responses.

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                                                                                                • Uganda. PeacebuildingData.org.

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                                                                                                  Data from three surveys conducted by Pham and colleagues in 2005, 2007, and 2010 in northern Uganda, about peace, justice, and reconstruction.

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                                                                                                  Other Transitional Justice Mechanisms

                                                                                                  In addition to the ICC, the role of traditional justice and truth-telling mechanisms is discussed in the literature, often contrasting these approaches with international justice. One line of argument is that traditional mechanisms address the population needs and expectations and, unlike criminal proceedings, do not hinder peace. Several publications examine local mechanisms, including Baines 2007, which contrasts international and local justice mechanisms from the perspective of a former LRA abductee. Liu Institute, et al. 2005 is a detailed description of various traditional mechanisms used in northern Uganda to resolve conflict and to promote reconciliation. UN Office of the High Commission for Human Rights 2007 links traditional justice mechanisms with peace building. Beyond traditional mechanisms, Anyeko, et al. 2012 further details the need for (and existing) local truth-telling mechanisms. PeacebuildingData.org’s web page Uganda, cited under Peace and the International Criminal Court, provides studies that highlight the range of existing opinions about transitional justice, especially outside the Acholi areas. The International Center for Transitional Justice and Justice and Reconciliation Project further released a report on memorials and memory in northern Uganda (Hopwood 2011).

                                                                                                  Peace

                                                                                                  Pain 1997 provides an early study of peace-building priorities for northern Uganda, on the basis of consultations with the population. However, all peace negotiations with the LRA have failed. Atkinson 2009 examines the reasons behind such failures, on the basis of the latest attempt at negotiating peace in Juba, South Sudan, and subsequent military intervention. In line with discussion on military interventions and following the US government decision to send troops into central Africa to target the LRA, Schomerus, et al. 2011 discusses the rationale behind the intervention and the challenges that it will face. Ssenyonjo 2005 provides a general discussion of accountability, contrasting the process of amnesty with criminal accountability. Branch 2008 examines further the issue of accountability of aid agencies for potentially having exacerbated the conflict, and of the government for the failure to protect civilians. Beyond negotiations and military interventions, Borzello 2007 examines efforts at disarming, demobilizing, and reintegrating LRA combatants, and Blattman 2009 shows an association between abduction and increased political participation among returnees.

                                                                                                  • Atkinson, Ronald R. From Uganda to the Congo and Beyond: Pursuing the Lord’s Resistance Army. New York: International Peace Institute, 2009.

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                                                                                                    Analysis of the Juba peace process and its unraveling, as well as the subsequent military operations against the LRA.

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                                                                                                    • Blattman, Christopher. “From Violence to Voting: War and Political Participation in Uganda.” American Political Science Review 103.2 (2009): 231–247.

                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1017/S0003055409090212Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                      Study of the effects of abduction and exposure to violence on later political and community participation, finding that abduction leads to increased likelihood of voting and community leadership but does not affect nonpolitical forms of participation. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                      • Borzello, Anna. “The Challenge of DDR in Northern Uganda: The Lord’s Resistance Army; Analysis.” Conflict, Security & Development 7.3 (2007): 387–415.

                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1080/14678800701556537Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                        An examination of disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR) efforts in northern Uganda during the LRA conflict, including earlier, informal measures and the formal process launched in connection with the Juba peace talks. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                        • Branch, Adam. “Against Humanitarian Impunity: Rethinking Responsibility for Displacement and Disaster in Northern Uganda.” Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding 2.2 (2008): 151–173.

                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1080/17502970801988057Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                          Analysis of the consequences of humanitarian interventions in northern Uganda, including the suggestion that aid agencies may have exacerbated rather than ameliorated the crisis by cooperating with Ugandan government policy of relocating populations to camps and protected areas. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                          • Pain, Dennis. “The Bending of Spears”: Producing Consensus for Peace & Development in Northern Uganda. London: International Alert, 1997.

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                                                                                                            A report presenting priorities for building peace in northern Uganda, organized around points for inclusion on the agenda of peace talks. The report, based on broad consultations with actors in the northern Uganda conflict, had a significant impact on international conflict resolution efforts.

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                                                                                                            • Schomerus, Mareike, Tim Allen, and Koen Vlassenroot. Obama Takes On the LRA: Why Washington Sent Troops to Central Africa. Foreign Affairs, 15 November 2011.

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                                                                                                              Examines the rationale behind the US administration to intervene in central Africa, and the challenges such intervention will be faced with. Available online by subscription.

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                                                                                                              • Ssenyonjo, Manisuli. “Accountability of Non-state Actors in Uganda for War Crimes and Human Rights Violations: Between Amnesty and the International Criminal Court.” Journal of Conflict and Security Law 10.3 (2005): 405–434.

                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1093/jcsl/kri022Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                Discussion of the need for accountability for LRA human rights abuses and for greater responsibility on the part of the Ugandan government to address root causes of the conflict, to adopt better governance, and to be held accountable for crimes committed by government forces during the LRA conflict. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                Advocacy, Communication, and Social Media

                                                                                                                In 2012, the advocacy group Invisible Children released a video titled Kony 2012 on YouTube. The video would go on to become the fastest-growing viral video ever at the time of its release. In response to what were rapidly described as gross inaccuracies and misrepresentations of the video, its arguably dangerous advocacy positions, and its lack of respect for local agency, a rapidly growing literature has emerged to discuss the use of social media in human rights advocacy, including to target LRA abuses. Amanda Taub edited a volume dedicated to the topic (Taub 2012). While works by some authors, such as Waldorf 2012, are positive about the campaign to raise political noise in response to gross human rights violations committed by the LRA, other works, such as Schomerus, et al. 2012, point to the shortcomings of the video in terms of accuracy and overall effectiveness. Hickman 2012 examines the narrative technique and questions the overall value of making such a film, while Karlin and Matthew 2012 examines the dynamics of the campaign itself. Kony 2012, however, was not the first attempt at raising awareness about the LRA—Taylor 2005 describes the church-based “Break the Silence” campaign, which succeeded in focusing some attention on the conflict. Additional research exists around the representation of the LRA in the media. Sturges 2008 describes northern Uganda as an information- and communication-poor environment prone to distortion, and Brisset-Foucault 2011 examines the relationship between media and the conflict in northern Uganda.

                                                                                                                • Brisset-Foucault, Florence. “Peace-Making, Power Configurations and Media Practices in Northern Uganda: A Case Study of Mega FM.” Journal of African Media Studies 3.2 (2011): 205–225.

                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1386/jams.3.2.205_1Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                  An analysis of local community media, or “peace media,” in northern Uganda, showing its impact on power configurations, the influence of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) on the media, and how the professional values of media workers have evolved in relation to the peace process. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                  • Hickman, David. “Jason and the Internauts.” Journal of Human Rights Practice 4.3 (2012): 475–480.

                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1093/jhuman/hus022Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                    Examining Kony 2012 through the lens of different forms of documentary filmmaking, the author analyzes the film’s form and content as well as its value as a tool of human rights activism.

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                                                                                                                    • Karlin, Beth, and Richard A. Matthew. “Kony 2012 and the Mediatization of Child Soldiers.” Peace Review: A Journal of Social Justice 24.3 (2012): 255–261.

                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1080/10402659.2012.704222Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                      An analysis of a number of factors, in addition to Invisible Children’s use of social media, that led to the massive success of the Kony 2012 campaign in raising awareness of the LRA conflict. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                      • Kony 2012. Invisible Children.

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                                                                                                                        Controversial video about the actions of the Lord’s Resistance Army, advocating for military intervention as a mean to end the conflict.

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                                                                                                                        • Schomerus, Mareike, Tim Allen, and Koen Vlassenroot. “KONY 2012 and the Prospects for Change: Examining the Viral Campaign.” Foreign Affairs, 13 March 2012.

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                                                                                                                          An examination of the Kony 2012 video and campaign, highlighting its factual inaccuracies and oversights and finding that while publicity was welcome, the campaign ultimately offered little in terms of real solutions. Available online by subscription.

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                                                                                                                          • Sturges, Paul. “Information and Communication in Bandit Country: An Exploratory Study of Civil Conflict in Northern Uganda 1986–2007.” Information Development 24.3 (2008): 204–212.

                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1177/0266666908094836Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                            This article looks at the LRA conflict from the point of view of access to information and communication flows. It also examines the relevance of the characterization of the LRA as a “bandit” movement. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                            • Taub, Amanda, ed. Beyond Kony 2012: Atrocity, Awareness, & Activism in the Internet Age. Leanpub, 2012.

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                                                                                                                              Edited volume (e-book) in response to Kony 2012, providing historical and political context, the various attempts to end the conflict, and the ethics of awareness campaigns such as Kony 2012. Available online through purchase.

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                                                                                                                              • Taylor, Jenny. “Taking Spirituality Seriously: Northern Uganda and Britain’s ‘Break the Silence’ Campaign.” Round Table: The Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs 94.382 (2005): 559–574.

                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1080/00358530500303668Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                Study of the “Break the Silence” campaign, initiated and coordinated by the Church Mission Society, and the significantly increased political activity that resulted from it. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                • Waldorf, Lars. “White Noise: Hearing the Disaster.” Journal of Human Rights Practice 4.3 (2012): 469–474.

                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1093/jhuman/hus025Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                  Assessment of the Kony 2012 video as a new form of human rights activism that moves away from traditionally neutral or sympathetic appeals for attention to human rights issues, to a tougher, more militant form of public mobilization.

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