Building a Sustainable Peace in Northern Uganda

Event date: 
11 Mar 2008
1:00pm to 2:30pm
Venue: 
Education Lecture Room 424 Education Building, Manning Road University of Sydney
Enquiries: 
Leah Chan or Aletia Dundas, Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies Tel. 9351 7686 arts.cpacs@usyd.edu.au

Archbishop John Baptista Odama, of the Gulu Diocese in northern Uganda, is renowned for his peace building efforts in the horrendous twenty-year conflict in the region. As the senior leader of the Catholic Church in the area the Archbishop has played an instrumental role as negotiator between the two main warring parties, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and the Ugandan Government forces. During this period of conflict Archbishop Odama has initiated and led an organisation of religious leaders promoting peace in northern Uganda; offered himself for arrest if there was any chance it would help those suffering from the war; and at one point was condemned to death by LRA rebels for his attempts to restore peace. His briefing of the United Nations Security Council on the conflict culminated in a UN
resolution (1653) and the beginning of peace talks between the two parties that led to the recent
ceasefire.

Archbishop Odama has given voice to those suffering as a result of the twenty year conflict, with a
particular emphasis on the ‘night commuters’, predominantly women and children. “A war that now has grandchildren”, is how Archbishop Odama has famously described the conflict. “We see they (children) are both the victims, and at the same time, the heroes of this war,” he said.
The peace pact in more recent times has seen the LRA undertake a mission of seeking forgiveness from people in the region. Archbishop Odama plays a key role in guiding this process. Under the guidance of Archbishop Odama, Caritas Australia has been working with Caritas Gulu and Caritas Uganda on a range of humanitarian activities including psychosocial support and trauma management for children and adults affected by the conflict, rehabilitation services for returned child soldiers, income generating
activities to assist families fight the poverty caused by internal displacement, family reunification
services, emergency shelter and feeding, and the strengthening of educational services for children. Archbishop Odama will address interested University of Sydney students, staff and visitors about his experiences of the violent conflict, its resolution and its aftermath, with a focus on what is needed to support reconciliation and a sustainable peace for the people of Uganda.