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George Washington University

Publication Date

Spring 2013

Program Name

Uganda: Development Studies


This study was completed during a 6-week period in Gulu District, Northern Uganda. The main objective of this study was to understand and analyze the various transitional justice mechanisms currently being used in post-conflict Northern Uganda. The researcher set out to hear the population’s general attitudes on justice and understand the challenges that hinder the justice process through the perspective of government officials (including opposition party members), NGO workers, lawyers, academics, and religious leaders. A specific focus was point on the compensation aspect of transitional justice since the region is suffering from severe under-development and poverty issues. This led to an extensive examination of the various post-conflict development programs currently being implemented, in addition to several other justice mechanisms.

This study was completed while the researcher simultaneously conducted a practicum at the Refugee Law Project office in Gulu town. Therefore, one of the main research methods practiced was observation as an RLP intern. Much insight was gained through observing the work of RLP, which gives free legal aid to war victims, mediates conflict disputes, and does extensive research and advocacy work on post-conflict justice issues. The other main research method used was interviewing. The researcher conducted semi-structured interviews with key informants and community members throughout Gulu District. The responses from these interviews were analyzed to obtain both qualitative and quantitative data.

The researcher concluded that there is much work that needs to be done in the transitional justice field in order for the people of Northern Uganda to obtain justice and for the region as a whole to reach the same development levels as the rest of the country. One major challenge is the difference between the needs of the victims and the current transitional justice policy in practice today. In order for the people of Northern Uganda to feel that they have obtained justice, the justice methods must align to their specific needs and desires. Secondly, another challenge is in implementation of justice mechanisms and recovery programs. There has been substantial efforts to create a transitional justice process but it has been implemented in an ineffective way, and its marred with corruption on every level. In order for there to be durable peace, these challenges must be addressed.


Community-Based Research | Inequality and Stratification | Peace and Conflict Studies | Politics and Social Change


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