The Greater WE: The African Union’s Mission to find Joseph Kony & NGOs’ Role
The African Union declared the Lord’s Resistance Army a terrorist group in November 2011 and in late March 2012, the African Union dispatched 5000 troops from Uganda, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Central African Republic to pursue LRA rebels. These troops will be added to the 100 American military advisors in the region per the Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act of 2009, which I addressed in a previous article entitled Military Interventions in a Globalized World:
Following up the 2001 Patriot Act, which declared the LRA a terrorist organization, The United States‘ the Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act of 2009, Public Law 111-172, enacted May 24, 2010 provides a legal basis for sending military assistance to Uganda. In his October 14, 2011 letter to the House of Representatives and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, President Obama admitted that even with U.S. assistance, regional military efforts have thus far been unsuccessful in removing LRA leader Joseph Kony and his top commanders, announcing that as Chief Executive of the United States Armed Forces, he sent military advisors to Uganda, South Sudan, Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Invisible Children’s viral campaign #Kony2012, which calls for the capture of LRA leader Joseph Kony, has garnered much praise and criticism. The latter usually addresses either the misrepresentation of affairs in Northern Uganda and misinformation about Joseph Kony’s whereabouts or the spending practices and ideological affiliations of the organization itself.
The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) has a track record of human rights abuses, including sex trafficking, exploitation of child soldiers, rape, murder and other crimes. Similarly, the Ugandan Army, UPDF has been accused of rape, looting and land grabbing not only in Uganda, but in parts of South Sudan and other nations in the region. Furthermore, the viral video omitted the detail that Joseph Kony and the remnants of his army (who number an estimated 500 now) fled, scattered to the Democratic Republic of the Congo over six years ago.
Nonetheless, Invisible Children, and partner organization Enough were part of a push for greater military intervention in East and Central Africa. Petitions and awareness campaigns placed pressure on government bodies and supranational bodies to intervene. We must, however note that past efforts to capture Joseph Kony have been unsuccessful with significant effects on Congolese, Central Africans, and Sudanese, of whom 200,000 total were displaced.
Marketed as a strategy to force Joseph Kony to sign the Final Peace Agreement (FPA) (a peace agreement that the Ugandan government has also refused to sign), Operation Lightning Thunder destroyed the Lord‘s Resistance Army (LRA) base camp in Garamba Park, DRC and scattered the LRA over the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Sudan and the Central African Republic (CAR). This new mission supported by troops from nations affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army will not end until Joseph Kony is captured or killed, according to Francisco Madeira, the AU’s special envoy on the LRA.
This is an example of The Greater WE- the globalization of local issues- or more specifically, the awareness of a local or regional issue. Non-governmental organizations with a bullhorn (or in this case, a video-camera) to amplify the importance of stopping a guerrilla army can garner international civil society support for military intervention.