Lord’s Resistance Army Weblog

This is my weblog devoted to covering developments related to the Lord’s Resistance Army.

The Lord’s Resistance Army is a rebel group based in Sudan that carries out attacks aimed at destabilizing the government of Uganda.

The LRA is similar in many ways to groups like the Khmer Rouge.

First, It engages in wholesale brutality including rape, targeted assassinations, maiming, and, on the side, selling children into slavery.

Second, it relies on the kidnapping and brainwashing of children to maintain its ranks — the LRA has kidnapped tens of thousands of children over the past decade, generally selling the girls into slavery and brainwashing the boys to become LRA fighters.

Finally, as its name might suggest, the LRA is also drive by a quasi-religious doctrine, that mixes Christianity, African animism and witchcraft into the mix.

Sudan Pledges Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

In August, Sudan pledged to ban female genital mutilation in that country.

According to a story carried by the UN Integrated Regional Information Networks,

At the end of a regional three-day symposium held last week in Khartoum, Health Minister Ahmed Osman Bilal expressed his government’s commitment to eradicate FGM at all levels, according to a summary of proceedings provided by UNICEF.

According to the Sudanese government, as many as 90 percent of women in its northern, largely-Muslim states are victims of female genital mutilation. Moreover, female genital mutilation in Sudan is the worst form of the practice involving the removal of most or all of the external genitalia and then the sewing of the vaginal opening — all done on young girls aged 7-11.


Government to ban female genital mutilation. UN Integrated Regional Information Networks, September 3, 2003.

Sudan: Genital mutilation rises. Agence-France Presse, August 24, 2003.

Pregnant Woman to Be Stoned to Death in Sudan

Human Rights Watch reported in January that an 18-year-old woman from western Sudan had been convicted of adultery and sentenced to death by stoning. The man she was accused of having sex with was not tried due to lack of evidence.

According to Human Rights Watch, Abok Alfa Akok did not have any legal representation at her trial, which was conducted entirely in Arabic — a language which Akok does not speak. Of course no translator was provided for her.

In addition, Akok is Christian and in the past the government of Sudan has promised not to try Christians under the Islamic Shari’a. UPI quoted HRW asserting that,

The Sudanese government has in the past claimed that its Shari’a law would not be applied to Christians, but this case shows otherwise. The sentence was based on Article 146 of Sudan’s 1991 Penal Code, which is based upon the government’s interpretation of the Shari’a.

Akok’s case is currently being appealed.

Christian woman to be stoned to death. Uwe Siemon-Netto, United Press International, February 1, 2002.

Kofi Annan Concerned about U.S. Statements (or, 800,000 Dead Rwandan’s Can’t Be Wrong)

Reuters is reporting that United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan told reporters that he and others world leaders were “disturbed” by a letter in which John Negroponte, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said that the United States may eventually have to widen the war against terrorism to include attacks on countries other than Afghanistan (likely Iraq, Sudan, and/or Somalia). Specifically, Annan pointed to a line in Negroponte’s letter that said, “We may find that our self-defense requires further action with respect to other organizations and other states.”

Normally, I might give some credence to Annan’s concerns, but unfortunately the UN Secretary General has a history of being “disturbed” at efforts to defend people from butchers.

In 1994, for example, Maj. Gen. Romeo Dallaire, then head of a UN peacekeeping mission in Rwanda, practically begged Annan intervene to prevent genocide. Daillaire had received reliable information about preparations for mass killings of Tutsis in that country. Annan, and then U.S. president Bill Clinton, firmly denied Dallaire’s requests and Annan couldn’t even be bothered to speak out publicly about what he knew until the genocide was well underway.

The Worldwide Traffic in Human Beings

The U.S. State Department recently released the first of a series of annual reports on the worldwide trafficking of human beings. According to the “Trafficking in Persons Report,” about 700,000 people — mostly women and children — are pressed into this modern form of slavery every year.

The report grades countries around the world based on their compliance with international treaties designed to prevent such trafficking. The report divides countries into three tiers, with Tier 3 being countries whose legal systems do not comply and are not making significant progress to achieving compliance. The list of Tier 3 countries includes Albania, Bahrain, Belarus, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Burma, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Greece, Indonesia, Israel, Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Malaysia, Pakistan, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Sudan, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, and The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

Several of the countries on that list, of course, are close allies of the United States.

The victims of such trafficking end up working as cheap labor in construction sites or clothing factories, while many of the women involved in the trade are forced into prostitution. At a press conference announcing the release of the report, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell called the ongoing trafficking in human beings an “abomination against humanity.”


US decries ‘modern-day slavery’. The BBC, July 12, 2001.

Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000: Trafficking in Persons Report. The United States Department of State, 2001.

Free Trade, Poverty, and the Anti-Globalization Movement

Is globalization bad for poor people? The New Republic editor Peter Beinart wrote an article for that magazine the other day making the case for the advantages of globalization.

Ahead of the expected protests in Quebec City, Beinart writes that the anti-globalization movement had its origins in the best of intentions but has been derailed into the wrong position. According to Beinart, “Throughout the ’80s and early ’90s, thoughtful social democrats called on the left to turn its energy away from identity politics and towards poverty. And now the left has; too bad it’s taken the pro-poverty position.”

Beinart argues that globalization has done more than anything else to reduce world poverty levels, although of course it hasn’t done much to deal with the Leftist buzzword of the decade, inequality. Beinart writes,

Free trade and investment, the protestors say, give free reign to the rapacious multinational corporations that exploit the poor. But if those multinational corporations are so rapacious, why do they systematically pay better than their local competitors? In fact, as Columbia University’s Jagdish Bhagwati has pointed out, the phenomenon of higher multinational pay is so widespread that economists have given it a name: the “wage premium.” And if infiltration by multinationals is so bad for the poor, then the countries that have the least contact with them should have the fewest poor people, right? North Korea, anyone? Haiti? Myanmar? Sudan? In fact, it’s the Third World countries with the most foreign direct investment and foreign trade that have generally seen the greatest reductions in poverty over the last couple of decades. In East Asia, the World Bank notes, the number of people living on less than $1 a day fell from roughly 420 million in 1987 to roughly 280 million in 1998. In other words, the number of desperately poor people fell by about one-third in just over a decade (a financial crisis notwithstanding). That’s not simply a breathtaking economic achievement; it’s a breathtaking moral achievement. And globalization’s achievements aren’t confined to East Asia. A raft of recent economic studies utterly discredits the anti-globalization movement’s claim that the rapid economic growth in Latin America in the ’90s only helped the rich. While it’s true there is no correlation between growth and inequality (i.e., economic growth sometimes increases inequality and sometimes reduces it), there is a strong correlation between economic growth and a reduction in poverty, which is what the protestors in Quebec City say they care about most.

While I wholeheartedly agree with Beinart about the importance of free trade and a removal of barriers to entry, it is also important to point out that some multinational corporations do cross ethical boundaries (such as Shell’s apparently close cooperation with the military in Nigeria) and transitions to free market economies in developing countries are often done in ways that seem designed to benefit large corporations at the expense of local producers.

To the extent that the anti-globalization movement highlights these problems, it can do a lot of good. To the extent that it attacks the notion of free trade itself, however, the movement is wrongheaded and aiming at the wrong target.


Trade Off. Peter Beinart, The New Republic Online, April 16, 2001.