Escaping the Trap for Good: Working for Sustainable Peace and Development in Northern Uganda

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The Ohio State University

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The international community now endorses a program of Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration (DDR) for facilitating civil conflict resolution and recovery. While Disarmament and Demobilization are necessary conditions for peace, I argue that the success of Reintegration programs (i.e. integrating former combatants back into civilian society) largely determines the longer-term stabilization of these countries. Therefore, my project asks how reintegration efforts shape the prospects for development and peace within a society affected by civil conflict. I use Sen’s capability approach to development as the standard by which to measure the success of any recovery effort, allowing for a comprehensive analysis of how relief attempts shape the prospects of individuals within the post-conflict society. My research focuses on the situation in northern Uganda, a case study that presents an opportunity to analyze not only ongoing reintegration efforts but also the role of such recovery approaches within an environment of ongoing conflict. My findings are drawn from interviews and observations collected during two months of field work in the capital city of Kampala and northern town of Gulu spent interacting with relief workers, community officials, and persons affected by the conflict. On the whole, despite some immediate successes, the role of the relief efforts in bringing sustainable peace and development to the war torn society is limited by failure to pursue a sufficiently broad program of reintegration in terms of both targets and objectives. Because of inadequate consideration of the community beyond ex-combatants and neglect of broader development goals like political voice, the shortcomings of such interventions leave societies in a precarious post-conflict condition and may even contribute to the failure to end violence sooner. I conclude by offering suggestions for alternative approaches to relief and recovery through reintegration, focusing on the inclusion of all war-affected persons in the community and objectives of political and social empowerment beyond mere economic survival.



reintegration, civil conflict, peacebuilding, uganda, capabilities approach, development