Whose Justice? - Reframing the ICC's Trial of Dominic Ongwen - Session II: Victimhood, Criminality, and Positionality in International Justice

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Monday, March 20, 2017 6:00 PM - 9:00 PM

Dovetailing off Session I of Whose Justice?, this panel will feature Harvard Law's Alex Whiting, Mark Drumbl of Washington and Lee Law School, and author Opiyo Oloya. It will also include Stephen Lamony of Amnesty International, and Ketty Anyeko (Global Leadership Scholar at UBC, and ten year veteran of work with war-affected communities in northern Uganda).

The discussion will grapple with the moral and legal ambiguities of Ongwen's standing as a former child soldier, while also interrogating the merits of international versus local justice mechanisms in a case like Ongwen’s. Questions and topics of discussion for this panel include the following: Do the circumstances under which Ongwen became a war criminal mitigate his crimes? If so, how should they be weighed in his trial, and what implications might this have for the future treatment of child soldiers in the realm of international justice? Does international transitional justice in a case like the one at hand serve the victims, or might it in fact sideline them, while prioritizing optics and Western geopolitics? Many claim that local communities want Ongwen to face “traditional” justice measures, while others point out that by Ugandan law, Ongwen should have even been eligible for amnesty. Would it have been in the interest of LRA-affected communities to consider either of these options over ICC prosecution? In addition, many critics of the ICC point out that the Court erred by indicting only LRA commanders, while neglecting to level any charges against the Uganda People’s Defense Force (UPDF- the national military, which also committed heinous acts of violence against civilians during the LRA conflict). By failing to address UPDF crimes, has the ICC legitimized government violence and allowed itself to be used as a tool of victors' justice in Uganda?