The silence of guns does not necessarily mean the end of conflicts. Like many other war-affected regions, Northern Uganda continues to grapple with challenges of post-conflict conflicts resulting from among other issues, disagreements over land acquisition and ownership. On 6th September 2019, the College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHUSS) in partnership with Amani Institute Uganda launched a collaborative research project titled, “Beyond War Compensation: Gender Justice, Livelihood and Rights in Northern Uganda” to investigate and find lasting solutions to challenges that continue to undermine peace in the region.
The launch followed an impact workshop held by the collaborating institutions at Acholi Inn in Gulu District to seek views of local leaders in Northern Uganda on the intractable development challenges of attaining gender justice and inclusive security. Participants at the workshop included Local Government Leaders, researchers, students, media personnel and representatives from NGOs and CSOs.
The five-year research project led by Dr Josephine Ahikire, Principal, CHUSS and Mr. Stephen Oola, Director Amani Institute Uganda is supported by the London School of Economics and Political Science under the UK Research and Innovation and Global Challenges Research Fund (UKRI-GCRF). It will focus on four districts in Northern Uganda namely; Gulu, Pader, Amuru and Nwoya.
The project seeks to unravel new gendered realities of post-war conflicts associated with land acquisition in Northern Uganda. It also seeks to examine local justice mechanisms and how these can be harnessed to deal with some of the critical peace building gaps. The project will also document women’s agency in land rights claiming processes in the post-war era.
The findings from the study will form part of an ongoing comparative research on livelihood, land rights and justice in conflict-affected societies within the Gender Justice and Security Hub.
The findings will contribute to the Hub’s central focus on addressing intractable development challenges of achieving gender justice and inclusive security in conflict- affected states.
During the impact workshop held in Gulu, Dr Ahikire and Mr. Oola briefed participants on the overall goal and objectives of the research before engaging in a highly interactive discussion on what the project should address.
Addressing participants, Dr Ahikire, Co-Investigator on the project underscored the importance of local justice mechanisms in creating social cohesion in post-conflict regions. “The silence of guns does not mean the end of conflicts and subsequently return of social cohesion. Beyond compensation, much more needs to be done to address the challenges that continue undermine peace in the region. Through this project and working with all stakeholders in and outside the region, we intend to examine and explore mechanisms that can bring about sustainable peace,” she said, noting that the solution to persistent conflicts in Northern Uganda lies within the region.
In addition to addressing challenges related to land acquisition and ownership as well as other factors that undermine gender justice and people’s economic, social and cultural rights in Northern Uganda, Dr Ahikire said there was need for an international conversation on the question of children born in captivity, a factor she noted continues to undermine peace in the region.
In their remarks, participants led by Rwot Yusuf Adek, Chief of the Pageya Clan in Acholi expressed gratitude towards the project, saying it would greatly contribute efforts aimed at reducing conflicts that continue to plaque the region.
Participants implored the researchers to deeply analyze the points of resistance that continue to undermine the return of social cohesion in the region. They urged the researchers to extensively deal with the question of land acquisition and ownership. They also asked the researchers to look into the question of children born in captivity, noting that they face many challenges when they return home. “The voices of children should not be left out in envisaging the future of the region and country at large,” they advised.
Participants also urged the researchers to examine the contribution of traditional institutions in resolving conflicts and restoring peace in the region. Researchers were tasked to establish how the role of religious leaders in bringing about social cohesion can be boosted. They were also asked to interrogate the changes in gender roles and how this has fueled domestic violence in the region.
Participants appealed to the researchers to situate informal justice mechanisms within the formal justice systems in trying to establish lasting solutions to conflicts in the region.
The findings from the study will be shared with target communities, local council leaders and institutions mediating and addressing land conflicts. The study process and outputs will engender new perspectives and scale up debate on the gendered nature of peace-building and reconstruction of social citizenship that goes beyond the hardware modes of compensation.
About the GCRF Hub
The Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) Hub is part of the United Kingdom Research and Innovation (UKRI) new ambitious approach to tackle some of the world’s most pressing challenges through 12 interdisciplinary research hubs which will work across 85 countries with governments, international agencies, partners and NGOs on the ground in developing countries and around the globe, to develop creative and sustainable solutions which help make the world, and the UK, safer, healthier and more prosperous.
The UKRI-GCRF Gender, Justice and Security Hub is a five-year project working at the overlap of sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 5 on gender equity, Goal 16 on peace, justice and strong institutions, and the implementation of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda of the United Nations.
Acknowledging that conflict and gender-based violence have devastating, long-term consequences on individuals, families and communities and severely hamper the successful delivery of development goals internationally, the Hub seeks to advance sustainable peace by developing an evidence-based research around gender, justice and inclusive security in conflict-affected societies.
The Hub will develop an evidence base on the intersections of gender, justice and security; expand research capacity in collaboration with international partners; and make use of unrivalled links with leading ambassadors for gender justice and (Hub Champions) to translate research into impact for the achievement of sustainable peace.
The Hub will pursue its key questions through four projects – on Transformation and Empowerment; Land, Livelihoods and Rights; Migration and Displacement; and Masculinities and Sexuality, as well as two cross-cutting work-streams on Law and Policy Frameworks and Methodological Innovation. To generate detailed knowledge from which to draw scalable conclusions and recommendations, the Hub will focus on eight core sites: Afghanistan, Colombia, Iraq, Lebanon, Myanmar, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka and Uganda.
- Creation of new knowledge and advocacy networks that amplify the voices of women and marginalized groups to catalyze change
- Local and global policy change on SDGs 5, 16 and the WPS agenda instigated by evidence on policy impacts generated by the Hub
- Institutional reform in core countries and more broadly, to underwrite inclusive security and just peace, for the benefit of conflict-affected societies. It aligns with SDG targets 16:6 to develop effective, accountable and transparent institutions at all levels and 16.7, and with the UNSG’s Prevention Agenda priority to advance preventive approach to human rights
- Capacity building to benefit Hub participants
- Creation of new knowledge, development of research methods and sector good practice to benefit the wider academic community
(Details on Hub in attached document)
CHUSS and Amani Institute Uganda focus
The College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Makerere University and Amani Institute Uganda will deal with the Land, Livelihoods and Rights Strand. Co-Investigators on the project are Dr Josephine Ahikire, Principal of CHUSS and Mr. Stephen Oola, Director, Amani Institute Uganda. The research will be carried out in Gulu, Pader, Amuru and Nwoya districts in Northern Uganda.