International criminal law in peace processes: the case of the International Criminal Court and the Lord's Resistance Army

Books or book chapters
December 2015
In 2005 the newly established International Criminal Court (ICC) issued its first arrest warrants for five commanders of the Ugandan rebel group, the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA).

Peacemaking and international criminal justice have had a rocky co-existence since the International Conference for the former Yugoslavia and the launching of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in 1993. Only with the emergence of the ICC did a justice-based approach to war and violence become permanently entrenched in the international landscape.

In the history of the ICC, the LRA case will remain hugely important - not because it can be considered a successful debut, but because it became the catalyst for a much broader debate of the role of international criminal justice in conflict situations, usually simplistically depicted as the tension between peace and justice.

This chapter first gives a brief overview of the conflict situation at the heart of the ICC's first arrest warrants, including the broader debate that was launched by the ICC's engagement in Uganda. It then examines what the ICC looked like to the conflict actors who became its first case and who were faced with the tension between peace and justice. The final section links some of the insights into broader debates on peace versus justice.