Campaign Update: Historic Peace Talks Underway
In the last 2 months, the one-year-old Govt. of South Sudan has hosted and mediated historic peace talks between the Ugandan government and the Lord's Resistance Army rebels. The involvement of such a strategic third party mediator, coupled with mounting pressure on all parties to resolve the conflict, gives this process serious potential to succeed in both ending active violence and providing a framework to address deeper social and political grievances. Michael and I recently wrote an analysis of why we believe these talks are the best opportunity over a decade to end the war.
The stakes are high. The photo in the upper right is an aerial shot of the many displacement camps in northern Uganda, where a total of 1.7 million people are confined in the war-torn region. Because of the squalid conditions and crowding in the camps, 1,000 people are dying each week.
For peace talks to succeed (and the conflict to be transformed), there is great need for international support and endorsement of the process. Yet, the United States has been ambivalent toward the talks, missing opportunities to support this critical initiative. In March of this year, the State Department announced that ending the war before the end of 2006 was a priority of the Bush Administration. Supporting these talks would be a good start to that promise.
To raise the profile of this opportunity and press the U.S. toward more responsible policy, we've been trying to engage the media and stimulate discussion. Michael and I had an Op/Ed published last week in the Sudan Tribune and also Foreign Policy in Focus. We've submitted pieces to papers across the country, and next Monday, I'll be speaking on Wisconsin Public Radio.
Perhaps most importantly, we're organizing a historic Northern Uganda Lobby Day and Symposium to be held October 9-10 in Washington D.C. We're bringing together the foremost international experts on the crisis and hundreds of advocates across the country to "make some noise" about northern Uganda. The moment is critical to demand that our leaders act to help end one of the world's worst humanitarian nightmares.