Forgiveness, amnesty and justice: The case of the Lord's Resistance Army in northern Uganda
The practice of forgiveness in processes of conflict resolution and post-conflict justice is confronted by two sets of serious criticisms. First, scholars and practitioners alike have questioned whether or not the fundamentally interpersonal practice of forgiveness can be readily and legitimately transposed to broader socio-political contexts. Second, questions have also been raised concerning the potential for forgiveness, particularly when associated with amnesties, to jeopardize and even circumvent the application of justice in post-conflict contexts. By contrast, supporters argue that forgiveness is not only possible but necessary in politics and, by drawing a distinction between amnesties and forgiveness, and restorative and retributive forms of justice, that forgiveness contributes to the achievement of restorative justice. By analysing the role that forgiveness is playing in bringing almost two decades of conflict between the Lord's Resistance Army and the Ugandan government to an end, this article demonstrates that a disjuncture exists between the theoretical treatment of forgiveness and the practice of political forgiveness. That is, it demonstrates, contrary to arguments made by both its supporters and critics, that political forgiveness, even when conceived in conjunction with amnesties, may contribute to both restorative and retributive forms of justice.
Cooperation and Conflict