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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Forgotten Voices: A Population-Based Survey of Attitudes About Peace and Justice in Northern Uganda

  • Author(s): Pham, Phuong N
  • Vinck, Patrick
  • Wierda, Marieke
  • Stover, Eric
  • et al.

For nearly two decades, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) has waged a war against the people of Northern Uganda. The group’s conflict with government forces has received little international attention, even though as many as 1.6 million civilians have been displaced and now languish in dozens of squalid camps throughout the countryside. In recent years, several researchers have conducted qualitative studies of the factors influencing peace and justice considerations in the north, primarily comprising interviews with Ugandan government officials, humanitarian workers, traditional and religious leaders, former LRA members, and others. These studies have contributed greatly to our understanding of the challenges policymakers face in their efforts to end years of war. Yet most research has not included population-based data that represent the spectrum of attitudes and opinions of those most affected by the violence. This report seeks to fill that void.

The report presents the findings of a study conducted by researchers from the Human Rights Center (HRC), University of California, Berkeley, in partnership with the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ), Payson Center of Tulane University and Makerere University Institute of Public Health.. The findings are based on the preliminary analysis of quantitative data collected from cross-sectional survey of 2,585 individuals residing in the four selected directs in northern Uganda—Gulu and Kitgum (both Acholi districts), and Lira and Soroti (both non-Acholi districts)—between April 20 and May 2, 2005. The specific objectives of the survey were to: 1) Measure the overall exposure to violence as a result of war and human rights abuses in Northern Uganda since 1987; 2) Understand the immediate needs and concerns of residents of towns, villages, and internally displaced person (IDP) camps in Northern Uganda; 3) Capture opinions and attitudes about specific transitional justice mechanisms, including trials, traditional justice, truth commissions, and reparations; and 4) Elucidate views on the relationship between peace and justice in Northern Uganda.

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