How do insurgencies end? What strategies and tactics are required and how should they be sequenced? In this wide-ranging interview, Betty Bigombe, Senior Director for Fragility, Conflict, and Violence at the World Bank, reflects on the two decade-long effort that ended the Lord’s Resistance Army insurgency in Uganda and her own role in the process.
The Ugandan government had initially applied a military-centric approach in an effort to combat the LRA. That began to change after Ms. Bigombe, in her role as Minister for Pacification resident in Gulu—then the epicenter of the insurgency—convinced President Yoweri Museveni to adopt a more comprehensive counterinsurgency (COIN) strategy involving a combination of tactics including diplomatic negotiations, community outreach, amnesty, and other trust-building measures. These efforts culminated in the 2006–08 Juba Peace Talks between the government and the LRA, which built on years of engagement with religious and traditional leaders and affected communities. Although the rebels ultimately did not sign the final agreement, the government implemented its key provisions, including wide-ranging transitional justice mechanisms that played a key role in stabilizing northern Uganda.