Building on recent momentum in Congress to address the limitations of the U.S. military effort to capture key members of the Lord’s Resistance Army and end the group’s long history of atrocities, the Senate unanimously passed a bipartisan resolution last week, S.Res. 402, condemning the crimes against humanity and mass atrocities being committed by Joseph Kony and the LRA. The resolution was introduced by Senators Chris Coons (D-DE) and Jim Inhofe (R-OK) and had the co-sponsorship of 45 other senators.
In addition to calling for the capture of Joseph Kony, the resolution:
- Supports the efforts of Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of South Sudan, the Central African Republic, and other governments in the region, as well as the African Union and United Nations, to end the threat posed by the LRA;
- Supports continued efforts by the United States to strengthen the capabilities of regional military forces deployed to protect civilians and pursue commanders of the LRA, as well as to enhance cooperation and cross-border efforts, to increase civilian protection and to promote assistance from donor countries to bolster efforts addressing the LRA crisis;
- Calls on the Obama administration to utilize existing funds to enhance mobility, intelligence, and logistical capabilities for partner forces engaged in efforts to protect civilians or remove Joseph Kony and his top commanders from the battlefield, to expand physical access and telecommunications infrastructure to facilitate the timely flow of information and improve access for humanitarian and protection actors, to support efforts to encourage LRA commanders and abductees to safely defect from the group, and to support programs to rehabilitate children and youth affected by the war;
- Calls on the president to place restrictions on any individuals or governments found to be providing training, supplies, financing, or support of any kind to the LRA; and
- Calls on the president to keep Congress fully informed of U.S. efforts and to work closely with Congress to identify and address critical gaps in efforts to counter the LRA.
The passage of this resolution is yet another commendable effort made by Congress to help bring an end to one of the most horrific conflicts in recent history. In a statement released by Senator Coons, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs, shortly after the vote, he said:
Kony and the LRA have terrorized Uganda and its neighbors in central Africa for more than two decades, tearing families apart and destroying communities. Joseph Kony represents the worst of mankind, and he and his commanders must be held accountable for their war crimes. I applaud my colleagues for unanimously passing this bipartisan resolution condemning the crimes committed by the LRA and supporting ongoing regional efforts to bring Kony and top LRA commanders to justice once and for all.
Likewise, senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Jim Inhofe echoed Senator Coons’s comment, saying it “further puts the Senate on record against the terror acts of Joseph Kony and his LRA.” He added that ending the LRA “will remove a major destabilizing force while providing better security for the people of Africa.”
Capturing Joseph Kony and bringing an end to the LRA are achievable goals. However, it is only through continued collaboration and strong partnerships with central and east African governments that these objectives can be met. Pushing the Ugandan army to commit a sufficient number of its most capable special forces to pursuing the LRA, enabling the U.S. soldiers deployed in the area to better support the military operations, and ensuring that the Ugandan army can access all areas where the LRA is operating are valuable places to start.
Photo: President Obama signs the historic LRA bill in May 2010. Subsequent Congressional efforts, like the new Senate resolution, build upon that landmark inititative (White House)