Friday, May 26, 2006

Report: Kony ready for peace talks

Quite often, so-called pragmatists argue against legal proceedings being initiated against war criminals. They contend that indictments and prosecutions will eliminate their incentive to enter into negotiations.

When the Sierra Leone war crimes tribunal indicted then-Liberian dictator Charles Taylor, the court was widely blasted for this. There was a serious rebellion against Taylor and diplomats argued that Chuck would have no reason to give up power if he knew that it would end up with him in a cell.

The charges had no discouraging effect on Taylor because he never wanted peace talks with the rebels before the indictment anyways. He fled the country only when it was clear he was beaten militarily. The idea that the war crimes indictment suppressed his normally dovish instincts is beyond belief.

Similiar criticisms were made of the International Criminal Court (ICC) when it indicted Joseph Kony, the lunatic in charge of northern Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. The LRA's name is accurate in the sense that it's resisting the Lord's teachings.

But such criticisms were equally absurd. The fanatical Kony never showed the slightest interest in peace talks before January 2005 so it's not as though there was any good will to discourage. The situation in northern Uganda could hardly have gotten worse anyway.

Now, reports suggest that Kony may be ready for peace talks.

Kony's LRA was long supported by the Sudanese regime in Khartoum and reportedly launched raids from southern Sudan. But with southern Sudan now controlled by the SPLM/A following that region's peace agreement and with serious international pressure on Khartoum because of its support for genocide in Darfur, the LRA is likely feeling squeezed both operationally and financially.

Either way, the moves by the ICC to eventually end impunity against Kony and bring him to justice have not harmed peace efforts, despite dire predictions to the contrary.

Update: Yebo Gogo blog notes that the International Criminal Court, of which Uganda is a signatory (but not Sudan), has issued warrants for Kony's arrest... The Ugandan government would be required, under terms of the ICC treaty, to hand Kony over for extradition and trial.

Then again, Kony would probably be safer in a Dutch jail cell than on the streets of Kampala and confronted by those whose lives he has ruined.

Amen to that!


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