Challenging International Justice: The Initial Years of the International Criminal Court’s Intervention in Uganda



This practice note describes and critiques the initial years of the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) involvement in Uganda from the perspective of local civil society actors. It argues that the substance and process of the ICC’s intervention fell chronically short of generating justice for those who had lived with the conflict for over two decades, and therefore created a disconnect between the priorities of those on the ground, and the priorities of the Court and its international minders. In order to unravel some of the dynamics that underpinned this disconnect, the paper asserts that the pivotal relationship between citizen and state provides a lens through which to assess any approach to generating justice in Uganda. It concludes that those promoting international justice need to be more cognisant of the fact that international justice mechanisms are obsolete unless they can move from theory to practice and make a genuine difference in people’s lives. In this regard, a better understanding and awareness of the political and social context in which they are operating, as well as greater self-critique and honesty, is critical.