Opinion
The right to protect
Publish Date: Jan 15, 2014
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By Col. (Rtd) Hon Fred Mwesigye

I was perturbed by what Issa Sekitto said when he was appearing on top Radio on January 2, on a programme known as Karasa Mayanzi.

Sekitto is the spokesperson of the Kampala City Traders Association (KACITA) whom I presumed to appreciate our president’s initiatives to promote trade links between Uganda and all countries in the region and the world and more importantly rescuing Ugandan traders who were trapped in the South Sudan conflict.

Sekitto and other obstructionists need to be educated on matters of international law and international humanitarian law.

An intra-violent conflict broke out in South Sudan between the Dinkas and the Nuer soldiers in SPLA. After three days of bitter fighting, hundreds of South Sudanese were killed while Ugandans and other foreigners were caught up in this conflict.

It is here where the international humanitarian law and international law are applied. It is the law of war and armed conflicts. The purpose of both international humanitarian law and the international law is to safeguard human dignity.

Every nation, community has a moral right to intervene whenever human rights are violated.

According to international law, the duty not to intervene in matters within the domestic jurisdiction of any state was included in the declaration on principles of international law concerning friendly relations and co-operation among states adopted in October 1970 by the United Nations General Assembly.

It was emphasised that; “No state or group of states has the right to intervene directly or indirectly for any reason whatever, in the internal or external affairs of any other state.

However, international law would seem to permit the state, only if a sovereign state gives consent of that state. In the Uganda South Sudan case, the reality is that South Sudan gave the consent.

Sekitto and other Members of Parliament (MPs), who were unconstructively criticising the President for deploying in South Sudan, should have appreciated that in the history of Africa, this was unprecedented in the case of Uganda’s military to fly forces into a war zone, effectively deploy and rescue Ugandans. This is normally done by super powers like USA, UK, France and Israel. I am proud to belong to UPDF.

USE OF FORCE

The circumstances that prompt the use of force in contemporary politics and the ways in which force is applied vary enormously because of the political, military and human costs associated with any large-scale use of force. Most states openly use force only rarely and

v     Only when they believe vital interests are at stake

v     States have some times used armed force to carry out reprisals for injuries suffered at the hands of another state or to rescue nationals trapped by armed conflicts abroad.

Some states have also used force or intervened militarily to avert or end serious and widespread violations of human rights or provide relief to populations suffering from starvation or other humanitarian disaster.

In the case of UPDF’s deployment, the three cases apply and, therefore, President Museveni was justified. In any case, the UN chief, Ban Kimoon asked President Museveni to intervene together with other countries and the South Sudan government itself gave consent.

My MP colleagues and Sekitto should have by now realised that according to the emerging trends, there is a new obligation referred to as the “responsibility to protect” or humanitarian intervention.

Military intervention for human protection is warranted when there is serious and irreparable harm occurring to human beings or imminently likely to occur.

However, there are principles which are normally followed

(a)     The primary purpose of intervention must be to halt or avert human suffering.

Right intervention is better assured with multilateral operations, clearly supported by regional opinion and victims concerned. In this case President Museveni was supported by the region.

 

(b)     Reasonable prospects: There must be a reasonable chance of success in halting or averting the suffering which has justified intervention, with the consequences of action not likely to be worse than the consequences of inaction.

The other reasons other than human protection include;

-     The right to self defense embodied in article 51 of the UN Charter; is extended to include the right to launch punitive raids into neighbouring countries that had shown themselves unwilling or unable to stop their territory from being used as a launching pad for cross-border armed raids or terrorist attacks.

-     Panic as Bashir, Machar Sudan backed Rebels advanced to Uganda. These groups were strong allies of Kony. All nations have developed conflict prevention and early warning systems.

The organisation of African Unity (OAU) in 1993 established a mechanism for conflict prevention management and settlement with support from external donors. The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has developed a number of innovative internal mechanisms and practices towards preventing conflict in Europe.

However, early warming about deadly conflict has been ad-hoc and unstructured. A wide range of players have been involved. However, the UN specialised agencies and development NGOs have the advantage of grassroots presence in South Sudan but they lack expertise and human resources especially the mandate to provide accurate and reliable early warning information.

Therefore, greater involvement by regional actors with intimate local knowledge is crucial because these regional actors are usually better placed to understand local dynamics.

I have always said before while we were in the bush struggling to liberate this country we had a lot of faith and we still have and we believed that “mzee anapanga” mzee anangalia mbali”.

This is clearly collaborated in Jeremiah Chapter3 Verse 15 where it talks about the skills of a leader. One of the skills is that a leader must have the ability to cast vision, plan strategy and direct teams and empower others. Therefore, we should allow President Museveni to direct this country as long as he is in charge because I believe God has used him to direct this country properly. We should avoid rash, accusations, angry words and verbal abuse as they can do immeasurable and life long harm.

On deployment of troops to South Sudan, yes constitutionally under UPDF Act Section 39(3) allows the Commander-in-Chief to deploy UPDF outside and inform Parliament or seek approval of Parliament after words.

 
In the army, the rule of the thumb is need to know.

It is, therefore, unpatriotic for some people to discuss matters where they are not authoritatively qualified, as they risk being called obstructionists or subversive. President Museveni was simply communication a joint position of Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) leaders.

Finally, I would like to throw light on my observation on the political and military reintegration of SPLM. The major challenge is that the politicians and the armed fighters were not fully reintegrated as was the case in Uganda after the war in 1986.

In South Sudan, the process of disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) was not fully done as was the case in Uganda. The commanders and fighters have returned loyalty to their former militia leaders.

Therefore, efforts should be made to fully reintegrate all political factions and all the armed faction in the process of a broad based government as was the case in Uganda. Rushing for democratic elections where the winner takes it all does not solve conflicts, especially in countries emerging from protracted armed struggles.

All this requires patience and displine. Let us hope and pray that the dialog in Addis Ababa will bring a lasting and peacefull solution. This can only be achieved, if post conflict peace building is supported with new tools applied while demobilising former warring functions, gorilla groups, rebel movements or Government forces.

The writer is the Member of Parliament for Nyabushozi County.

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