IJR transforming institutions to change attitudes towards justice, peace & reconciliation in Uganda

Reflections from IJR’s Dr Webster Zambara

In July 2019 IJR’s Senior Project Leader Dr. Webster Zambara was in Uganda to facilitate Peacebuilding and Conflict Resolution programmes at the Uganda Senior Police Command and Staff College at Bwebajja, outside the capital Kampala. Dr. Zambara introduced these overarching key concepts to a group of 37 senior police officers who form a new cohort embarking on further studies in Peace and Security with the United Nations University for Peace (UPEACE) Africa Programme.

The two weeks programme combined theory and practice, and employed a variety of methodologies that included mini-workshops, lectures, story-telling, plenary and group breakaway sessions, games, simulations and role-plays that reflected on and enhanced understanding of the contemporary issues affecting Uganda. The overall aim was to transfer knowledge and skills to prepare the officers for their academic journey they have embarked on, as well as jointly creating the best ways the security sector in general, and the Uganda police in particular can be agents of resolving conflict and sustaining peace at local and national levels. The programme explored the contemporary issues in peace studies and how they affect Uganda, Africa and the world. With specific examples from the lived realities in the Ugandan context, several sessions also considered how Africa and specific countries, particularly in the Great Lakes region, can transform their social, political and economic historical and present realities of violent conflicts and injustice in order to move from negative peace to positive peace that would benefit all citizens.

Besides the key concepts in peace and conflict resolution, the senior police officers were introduced to the broader work that IJR does in East and Southern Africa in line with the Institute’s vision and mission, as well as its pathfinding research on linking Peacebuilding with Mental Health and Psycho-Social Support. Participants were also made aware of the new African Union Transitional Justice Policy (AUTJP) that was recently adopted by the continental body in February 2019. Security sector reform is a very important pillar of any transitional justice process, and working with the Uganda Police Force will hopefully, contribute to its transformation into a force that upholds fundamental human rights and contribute to justice, peace and reconciliation.