Gender Quotas: Reasonable or Radical?

“Political Affirmative Action” is the moniker a New York Times writer gave gender quotas (Rampbell 2009, 1). Yet, this name fails to convey the importance of incentivizing government and businesses to begin including women in their leadership. Women are half of the world’s population, which necessitates more representation in governments and boardrooms than what we currently have, with women comprising only 27% of Congress. This places the United States in 101st place globally for the percentage of female representation in government (“Women in Government” 2018). Despite the social backlash against gender quotas, such as quota implementation and the probable impossibility of them ever being carried out, implementing quotas can help bring more women and their intellectual capital into influential positions, inspire younger women to strive for those positions and help make those workplaces more welcoming to women who seek them in the future. First, I will explain the value of women in politics and business, which will give context to why quotas bringing in more women will benefit those institutions overall. Second, I will examine how quotas could normalize the presence women in those fields, which could result in changing the existing cultures in those fields, and inspiring younger women to enter those fields. Third, I will explore the concept of quota stigmatization, and how it ignores systemic inequalities against women that gender quotas are supposed to help mitigate. Fourth, I will address the practical reality of implementing gender quotas in the United States and the low likelihood of it ever happening. Lastly, I conclude with the reminder that gender quotas are only one part of the solution, and much more needs to be done to achieve more female representation in both Congress and the boardroom.

Women involved in politics and business offer different perspectives, thus contributing to the diversity of knowledge on various issues, as well as dismantling the stigma of politics and business being “a man’s game”. Henderson and Jeydel (2010) concluded in their study that the presence of women is important in government and business as they draw attention to overlooked women’s issues and reinforce the social idea that women can achieve high power positions in those areas (Henderson and Jeydel 2010, 35). Pearson and Dancey (2011) expanded on Henderson and Jeydel’s (2010) by examining one-minute floor speeches (Pearson and Dancey 2011, 497).

They found that congresswomen in both parties are significantly more likely than men to discuss women, enhancing women’s representation (Pearson and Dancey 2011, 493). Simon and Palmer (2010) seemingly disputed this with their study that concluded that there was no significant difference in the voting scores or roll call scores of female or male members of House (Simon and Palmer 2010, 230). However, they also conceded that women’s legislative agendas were different as they focused more on women’s issues (Simon and Palmer 2010, 245). Women bring much needed awareness to women’s issues, and are necessary in our political and financial institutions. More women brought by quotas can intensify this effect and make women’s issues in politics and business a more widespread and openly discussed topic. Additionally, while descriptive representation may not necessarily result in better substantive representation, Pearson and Dancey (2011) theorized that the rationale behind the greater likelihood for women acting on behalf of women are women’s common socialization, experiences and perspectives that create a sense of mutuality among women (Pearson and Dancey 2011, 255). Therefore, it is likely that women are the best people to represent women’s issues since they have common ground in their experience, which brings attention to problems that are often ignored.

In addition to raising awareness on overlooked issues, quotas can help normalize women in government and business, inspiring new generations to those positions to further integrate women in those workplaces, and combating the idea that women cannot succeed in these fields. Campbell and Wolbrecht (2006) found that the more women politicians are made visible by national news coverage, the more likely adolescent women indicate an interest in engaging in politics (Campbell and Wolbrecht 2006, 233). Quotas can help provide a wider sample of women to serve as achievable examples to which adolescent women can aspire.  The societal influence that quotas can help strengthen, could also help with the major problem that Lawless and Fox (2012) identify as the reason women do not win office: they do not run (Lawless and Fox 2012, 30). One reason is the “gendered psyche”, when women doubt whether they are qualified to run or whether they would even win (Lawless and Fox 2012, 10). The “gendered psyche” is a manifestation of the idea of politics and business being exclusively male fields, where only men can succeed, as well as the lack of encouragement from family and colleagues, and simultaneous discouragement from society, for women to run. However, quotas can bring more women, who can serve as role models of success,  into those fields. Furthermore, when those women are in powerful positions in government and the corporate world, they could be more sensitive to the particular issues that women face while trying to get to those positions. They then can help establish better pipelines or a more inclusive work culture to welcome women into government and business, which can help further combat the self-defeatist nature of the gendered psyche.

Quotas can also help change the work environment of government and business when women are finally in office. The competitive, cut-throat nature of politics and finance does not appeal to women, as Niderle and Vesterlund (2007) found (Niderle and Vesterlund 2007, 1067). Women tend to avoid competition, and prefer a more cooperative environment, while men tend to intentionally seek competition (Niderle and Vesterlund 2007, 1069). Having more women in office could possibly foster a more collegial environment, a culture more aligned with their preferences, which could help all the women perform better in their fields. However, there is always the risk of quota stigmatization, which ignores the social and institutional inequalities that women face. Dahlerup (2007) discusses quota stigmatization, where women are perceived as less qualified or are stigmatized based on the assumption that they received their position solely due to their gender (Dahlerup 2007, 245). Nonetheless, the more women that enter those professions, the more their conception of women being less qualified would most likely change, as the concept of women holding executive positions is normalized (Dahlerup 2007, 250). Furthermore, quota stigmatization is based on the assumption that men and women have equal opportunities, resources and encouragement to pursue careers in government and business. Quota stigmatization ignores the social and institutional inequalities that exist for women when trying to enter, and continue to progress in those fields. For instance, Anzia and Berry’s (2011) study found that only the best, most over- performing congresswomen are elected to office, congresswomen secure 9% more federal discretionary funds, and sponsor and cosponsor more bills than their male counterparts (Anzia and Berry 2011, 478). Therefore, women have to put in more effort to keep their seats than men. Quotas’ possible effect of normalizing women in these fields can aid in alleviating some of the extreme pressure women feel in keeping their seats due to sexism, by making women in those fields more commonplace and reducing the intense standards for keeping their positions.

More opposition arises when one considers the practical issues with implementing a gender quota in the United States, and deciding what percentage the quota should be. The exact percentage that the quota should be set as, could differ for each chamber of Congress or each area of the country. However, it ultimately should incentivize political parties and the country to elect more women than we have currently, which is not representative of the amount of women in the country, nor the amount of women that vote. Dahlerup (2007) discussed the intense merit- based culture of the United States, which would make it unlikely that gender quotas would ever be implemented (Dahlerup 2007, 259). However, this does not detract from the potential benefits of a gender quota that are demonstrated in other countries. Additionally, as more highly industrialized, European countries such as Germany, implement quotas for boardrooms, the United States could one day follow the trend. Norris and Inglehart (2010) found that the highest rates of women in government are generally correlated with high levels of development, secularization and egalitarian attitudes towards women (Norris and Inglehart 2010, 128). There is hope that the United States will come to gender parity eventually, however, a gender quota could aid in achieving such equality sooner.

Quotas are not the only answer to achieving more female representation in government and business; attention should also be focused on other institutional and social reform that is more conducive to women’s lives. If there are no women willing to run, the gender quota system will not even be possible. In addition to gendered psyche, Lawless and Fox (2012) discuss two other problems that prevent women from running (Lawless and Fox 2012, 167-170). Traditional family roles for women take up time for married women and result in less encouragement to run for office or engage in political discussions by parents (Lawless and Fox 2012, 167). Masculinized ethos causes parties to recruit less women, creates a sexist corporate culture and causes fewer colleagues to encourage women to run for office (Lawless and Fox 2012, 167). Quotas at the recruitment levels can help mitigate the problem of masculinized ethos, yet these problems are social manifestations of sexism that are not going to be solved solely with quotas. There needs to be further institutional change to make government and businesses more accommodating for familial responsibilities, to aid in reducing the effect of traditional family roles. This could mean allowing for part-time work, working from home and reducing the stigma against taking maternity and paternity leave. Likewise, both families and colleagues need to begin encouraging their female colleagues and children to become engaged in politics and run for office or strive for the high positions in the corporate ladder. We need to combat the social notion that women do not have a place in these fields and encourage them to run, because, as according to Brooks’ (2013) research, they are not generally disadvantaged by their gender in the eyes of the public (Brooks 2013, 30).

Ultimately, despite quota stigmatization and the low likelihood of quotas ever being a reality in America, there are multiple benefits to having a gender quota. Gender quotas bring more women into government and business, which results in the sharing of more diverse opinions, which translates into better policy and more sound financial decisions. Furthermore, the normalization of women in those high power positions can help galvanize more women to enter those fields, change the culture there to be more conducive to the way women perform work and change media bias for politicians. It can also help mitigate some social inequalities present in those positions once women are in positions of power to enact change. However, despite the improbability of gender quotas being implemented, gender quotas have substantial benefits that could benefit women in society, making them a worthy proposal to consider at the very least. Their possible impact can serve as a beginning in addressing the systematic inequality that women still face in the workplace. We must also address the lack of social support for women considering running for office or striving for the high power management position, that prevent women from even entering the race. We, as a society, must address the deep, systematic institutional and social biases that make women doubt their own abilities, or risk losing their talents.


Works Cited

Anzia, Sarah F., and Christopher R. Berry. “The Jackie (and Jill) Robinson effect: Why Do Congresswomen

Outperform Congressmen?” American Journal of Political Science 55, no. 3 (2011): 478-493.

Brooks, Deborah Jordan. He Runs, She Runs: Why Gender Stereotypes Do Not Harm Women Candidates. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2013.

Campbell, David E., and Christina Wolbrecht. “See Jane run: Women Politicians as Role Models for Adolescents.”

Journal of Politics 68, no. 2 (2006): 233-247.

Dahlerup, Drude. “Electoral gender quotas: Between Equality of Opportunity and Equality of Result.”

Representation 43, no. 2 (2007): 73-92.

Dahlerup, Drude. “Will Gender Balance in Politics Come by Itself?” In Kellerman, Barbara, and Deborah Rhode.

Women and Leadership: The State of Play and Strategies for Change. John Wiley & Sons, 2007.

Henderson, Sarah, and Alana S. Jeydel. Women and Politics in a Global World. NY, NY: Oxford University Press, 2010.

Lawless, Jennifer L., and Richard Logan. Fox. It Still Takes a Candidate: Why Women Don’t Run for Office. New

York: Cambridge University Press, 2012.

Niederle, Muriel, and Lise Vesterlund. “Do Women Shy Away from Competition? Do Men Compete Too Much?”

The Quarterly Journal of Economics 122, no. 3 (2007): 1067-1101.

Pearson, Kathryn, and Logan Dancey. “Speaking for the Underrepresented in the House of Representatives: Voicing

Women’s Interests in a Partisan Era.” Politics & Gender 7, no.4 (2011): 493-519.

Rampbell, Catherine. “Political Affirmative Action: Quotas for Women.” New York Times, January 12, 2009.

Accessed November 19, 2017. women/?_r=0.

Simon, Dennis M., and Barbara Palmer. “The Roll Call Behavior of Men and Women in the US House of

Representatives, 1937–2008.” Politics & Gender 6, no. 2 (2010): 225-246.

Women in Government (2018, April 24). Retrieved May 22, 2018, from

The Efficacy of International Human Rights Courts: A Case Study of Uganda

The general consensus in the current literature on the efficacy of international human rights courts is rather positive. Kim and Sikkink (2010), Meernik (2003), and Akhavan (2009) agree on their ability to improve human rights through a number of legal and social means. However, Snyder and Vinjamuri (2003) remain more skeptical about their effects compared to other notable scholars, due to the potential for international human rights courts to destabilize by undermining their sovereignty. Overall, most of the literature on human rights courts is in consensus on international courts’ ability to improve human rights in both the social and legal realm and deter future human rights violations.

Kim and Sikkinik’s (2010) study examined the possible effects of human rights prosecutions and found that they decreased government repression in the long-term. They studied 100 transitional countries between 1984 and 2004 and classified three specific transitions: democratic transition, transition from civil war, and transition by state creation. Their dependent variable was political repression, operationalized by using the physical integrity index from CIRI scores. These scores encompass the amount of civil, political and workers’ rights that exist in each country on an 8-point scale, with higher numbers signaling lower rates of political repression. The independent variables were the variety of human rights prosecutions that occurred: domestic prosecutions for human rights crimes committed in the country, international prosecutions, foreign prosecutions, in which one country held another country’s leader on trial, and hybrid courts. Kim and Sikkink (2010) found that human rights prosecutions had a strong statistically significant impact on the decreasing level of political repression. Countries with human rights prosecutions had lower levels of repression than those without prosecutions. The level of repression also decreased as the number of years with human rights prosecution increased. One of the strengths in the study lay in the selection of transitional countries, which generally have worse human rights records, yet international courts were still able to decrease repression rates. Additionally, their verification of their measurements of repression bolstered their conclusions as both CIRI scores and the Political Terror Scale indicated an improvement of human rights practices post-transition. Their consideration of various forms of human rights prosecutions aided in revealing the cumulative effect of all types of human rights prosecutions. However, they failed to go into detail about the specific effects of domestic versus international or foreign prosecutions, leaving open the question of which method is most responsible for improvements in human rights. Additionally, there was little discussion of the effects of the different processes of transition in improving adherence to international human rights norms compared to one another. Moreover, their brief consideration of transition by state creation or democratic transition ignored the effects that colonial roots may have, for example, whether British colonies may have better human rights prosecutions than French ones. Ultimately, Kim and Sikkink’s (2010) study was representative of the general optimism surrounding the effect of international courts and human rights prosecutions.

Meernik (2003) expanded upon Kim and Sikkink’s (2010) research by separating the possible legal and political factors that could affect sentencing in the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), and found that the Court operates on primarily legal factors. He predicted verdicts based on legal or political variables pulled from the ICTY website, to examine which ones had the most influence and evaluate the “fairness” of the court. His political model’s independent variables were the differences in expertise, ethnicity, number of witnesses called by the judge, number of judges from NATO nations, and arrests by the stabilization force (SFOR). His legal model’s independent variables were the gravity of the crime, the individual’s level of responsibility and whether the individual agreed to a plea bargain. Meernik (2003) concluded that the ICTY mainly follows the legal model; those convicted of the worst crimes, the most offenses and who bore the most responsibility for these crimes would receive the most severe sentencing. He found that most political factors do not play a significant role in sentencing, except for the number of witnesses called to testify. The strength of his study lay in the separation of political and legal factors that created a clear distinction between the effect of each category of variables. However, his grouping of NATO judges was problematic as he assumed they had the same training and values. He did not consider the differing legal traditions in each of the NATO states, such as the unique use of the death penalty in the United States. He also failed to explain the category of the crime and whether genocide or war crimes carry a more severe sentence compared to other types of crimes. Meernik’s (2003) analysis informed Kim and Sikkink’s (2010) research by focusing on the legal workings of the court system. It gave a possible reason for improved adherence to human rights norms, as the structured, unbiased nature of the ICTY can punish those responsible, relieving lingering emotional tensions, and act as a guide for an impartial legal system. Additionally, while Yugoslavia is not technically a transitional state in the definitions that Kim and Sikkink (2010) used, it still has to transition back to peaceful civil life after a bloody conflict. The ICTY could aid in guiding them back to civil society by reinforcing the legal norms. This could parallel the reinstatement of law through human rights prosecutions that may have occurred in the countries that Kim and Sikkink (2010) studied, as they also transitioned from a state of conflict, back to some sort of peace.

Akhavan (2009) supported Meernik’s (2003) research by using case studies to find that the International Criminal Court (ICC) played a significant social, rather than merely a legal, role in deterring violence. Akhavan (2009) selected three ICC situations where no individual was held legally responsible and indictments were not issued: Cote d’Ivoire, northern Uganda and the Darfur region of Sudan. He found that in Cote d’Ivoire, the threat of referral to the ICC stopped the propagation of hate-filled, discriminatory radio broadcasts that could incite violence. In Uganda, Sudan was less willing to protect the Lord’s Resistance Army once the case was referred to the ICC. The stigma the ICC placed on the LRA pressured Sudan to distance themselves from the LRA. In Darfur, the pressure the ICC placed on the Sudanese government made them use Janjaweed leaders as a scapegoat, which aided in disrupting ethnic cleansing in the region. One of the strengths of his study was in examining cases with various methods of referral to the ICC. The broad deterrent effect of the ICC applied to whatever method was present. Additionally, he also considered the social effects of the Court and their method of naming and shaming campaigns to induce change. However, Akhavan (2009) was also not able to separate the specific effects of the ICC from the effects of general condemnation of other nations. Additionally, he also examined rather weak and politically tumultuous states and did not consider whether the trend would hold for internationally powerful states. Akhavan’s (2009) study was still able to supplement those that came before. Unlike Meernik (2003), he studied the effect of the Court through political and social methods and its ability to follow more Constructivist ideas of changing norms and increasing the social and political price of committing human rights violations. Akhavan (2009) also served as a direct companion to Kim and Sikkink (2010) in their conclusion that international courts and human rights prosecution can prevent future human rights violations rather than merely deal with the perpetrators after-the-fact, by thoroughly examining the methods behind such a change, rather than just observing a trend, as Kim and Sikkink (2010) did. Akhavan (2009) depicted a more activist court in leveraging its international social weight to intimidate governments to stop violating human rights.

Snyder and Vinjamuri (2003) took a more pessimistic view of the effect of international courts, as they concluded that international courts destabilized the countries they prosecuted. They examined 32 cases of civil wars between 1989 and 2003. Snyder and Vinjamuri (2003) conducted an observational study, and examined the rule of law and existing human rights standards to assess how trends in these dependent variables related to their independent variables, the strategy of justice used in each case: trials, truth commissions and amnesty. They found that trials can end abuses when spoiler groups were weak and the domestic legal infrastructure was reasonably well-established. Otherwise trials could incite further violence and deepen ethnic cleavages. The strength in their study lay in their examination of multiple methods of justice (trials, truth commissions and amnesties), as well as a variety of countries, which showed the varied effects of each method of justice on a state’s human rights. However, Snyder and Vinjamuri’s (2003) multiple case studies did not delve deeper into the more complex social implications of each method of justice, but were more surface conclusions. Furthermore, there was little discussion to the reaction of victims and their families to the lack of prosecution as they reduced a humanitarian problem to a political one. Snyder and Vinjamuri (2003) departed from Meernik’s (2003) conclusions that an impartial court can bring about improvements, rather, they preferred political factors to influence decisions of justice as each case should be placed in its international political context to decide the next steps, which could be amnesty if the political landscape was still too dangerous for human rights prosecutions. While Akhavan (2009) presented the ICC as a method of possibly solving the trade-off between political expedience and justice through collective action and reinforcement of norms, Snyder and Vinjamuri (2003) accepted politically expedient deals as often the only peaceful way to end conflict. Snyder and Vinjamuri (2003) were more conservative about the effect of human rights prosecutions compared to Kim and Sikkink (2010). They did not completely despair at the effects of human rights prosecutions, merely that they were effective under certain political conditions of an already democratizing state.

The scholars discussed above are quite optimistic about the impact international human rights courts can have. Kim and Sikkink (2010), Meernik (2003), and Akhavan (2009) emphasized the courts’ impartial and fair nature that can reinforce human rights norms and aid countries in having a robust legal system to properly prosecute human rights offenders. However, Snyder and Vinjamuri (2003) were more conservative in their estimate of the effects of international courts. Ultimately, the power of the courts in academic literature was assumed to be positive.

While the literature has an optimistic perspective on the improvements international courts can bring, the effect of the International Criminal Court in Uganda was much more tempered. The ICC was spurred into action by the atrocities committed by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), headed by Joseph Kony, including widespread abduction of children and adults, the use of forced child soldiers and sexual slavery (Silverman 2014). While there has been some short-term improvement in the Ugandan legal structure and an indication of a social awareness of human rights, there seems to be little promise for any long-term improvements in human rights.

The ICC had a fair amount of influence over the reforming of the legal structure in Uganda. Before the ICC, Amnesty International (1994) indicated few methods for recourse if one is victim of a human rights violation. Additionally, they noted the complicity of local authorities in refusing or delaying trials to prosecute human rights violations, particularly those perpetrated by Ugandan soldiers or LRA members. According to the ACCORD Report (2015), the ICC promoted the creation of a number of laws and a new court to hold perpetrators of grave injustices more accountable. Specifically, they sponsored the International Criminal Court Act of 2010, the Accountability and Reconciliation Agreement with the LRA, and are seeking to pass a Prevention of Genocide Bill through the Ugandan Parliament, which establishes an Independent National Committee to spearhead the fight against genocide. One of the clearest signs of the ICC’s influence was the creation of the War Crimes Court, which was directly modelled after international tribunals with a judicial bench consisting of at least three judges, a registry, an Office of the Prosecutor and a Defense Court (ACCORD 2015). These developments were an improvement from the previous lack of judicial structures for these particular subset of atrocities. Additionally, even the presence of such structures could raise the cost of performing such acts and deter future attacks by the LRA. It could also spread the norms of the unacceptability of violating human rights, as well as establishing a sense of a rule of law and, as Akhavan (2009) noted, could use international political pressure to stop the LRA. These influences by the ICC and its potential to charge human rights violators could inform Meernik’s (2003) study as the impartiality of the ICC could be transferred to the domestic institutions it has helped build, such as the War Crimes Court. The fair prosecution of leaders of the LRA could also aid in splintering the organization of the group, which has been cited as one of the factors behind the shrinking power of the LRA and its decreasing rates of child abductions and violent attacks. The guidance of the ICC can aid in Uganda strengthening and clarifying its legal protections against human rights violations.

However, despite the promising start of these institutions, there seems to be little evidence on continuing improvements in the long-term. The LRA, though greatly weakened, is still operating and abducting children (Human Rights Watch 2005). There is only one pending prosecution against Thomas Kwoyelo, a high-ranking LRA colonel, in the War Crime Division of the High Court, leaving the efficacy of the court uncertain and casting skepticism on the idea that the War Crime Division will truly prosecute everyone involved (Human Rights Watch 2011). Overall, Uganda’s Freedom House score is consistently high, demonstrating a flawed rule of law and a lack of civil rights for its citizens (Freedom House 2015). The United States Department of State (2016) continues to classify the crime rate, as well as domestic and international terrorist threats to Uganda as critical, suggesting the implementation of new legal standards and courts were not as effective as the ICC expected. Kim and Sikkink’s (2010) conclusions about the beneficial nature of human rights prosecutions through international and domestic courts, were somewhat challenged by the fact that despite the slight improvements at the start of the reform process by the ICC, its effects may be more difficult to translate into the long-term.

The ICC has also attempted to bring justice to victims of human rights violations and their families, by further strengthening social acceptance of human rights. Previous to the arrival of the ICC, the lack of trials or accountability left victims of human rights abuses and domestic crimes vulnerable to physical and economic intimidation by their attacker (Human Rights Watch 2005). Moreover, ACCORD International (2010) reported that many victims were often socially stigmatized from their communities after experiencing human rights violations or other crimes, particularly if the crime was sexual, which was common for women kidnapped or attacked by LRA members. They were often forced not to report their crimes as police officials extorted money if they did report it or were often bribed to not take action, ultimately contributing to the culture of silence and ignorance of human rights violations. In a study by the Human Rights Center at the University of Berkeley (2005) of 2,585 Ugandans from four Northern districts, 76% of respondents indicated a desire for some accountability for the actions of abusers and, of the small percentage who have heard of the ICC, 91% believed it would contribute peace and justice. Another study by the ACCORD International (2015) also found the majority of their 20 respondents also noted the beneficial social impacts of the ICC, such as raising awareness of existing law to protect against human rights violations and its ability to “touch the untouchables”. The desire for adherence to international human rights norms allowed the ICC to have a place in the Ugandan legal system, which could build the social foundation for a more just and sophisticated understanding of the law, which can further motivate legal reform. Furthermore, such awareness of human rights abuses and options to prosecute them could also prevent future abuses as the definitions of human rights abuse were clarified and action could be taken, which was consistent with Kim and Sikkink’s (2010) predictions of the use of human rights prosecutions in transitional justice.

Complicating this optimism, there is disagreement as to whether the ICC can exact justice consistent with Ugandan culture, tempering its efficacy. Rates of corruption and police abuse, as well as the social stigmatizing of human rights victims still were quite high (ACCORD International 2010). In ACCORD International’s (2015) study, 33% of respondents argued that the ICC was taking the focus away from restorative justice mechanisms that were highly present in the Aicholi culture and highlighting the West’s more retributive form of justice. Additionally, the study by the Human Rights Center (2005) showed the same spectrum of results as 66% of respondents favored more punishing consequences (trials, imprisonment and killing) and 22% favored more forgiving tactics of reconciliation and integration. Furthermore, ACCORD International (2015) also found that almost one-third of respondents considered the ICC an imposition of Western authority and had concerns of its Western bias. Therefore, the Ugandan experience paradigmatically falls in line with Snyder and Vinjamuri’s (2003) research of the possible ways in which human rights prosecutions could destabilize a region. Action should be taken within the context of a country’s nuanced political and social state at the time. The effect of the ICC was restrained due to opponents of its Western methods of justice. The ICC caused a further social divide and seemed like a Western, even neocolonial force imposing its own form of justice on the domestic legal structure. It ran the risk of damaging its credibility by ignoring local traditions and the people that support them. Furthermore, this also revealed another shortfall of the ICC in not informing the local people about its purpose and its methods. Few people knew about the ICC and mischaracterized it as an imposition of Western authority, rather than an impartial judge of human rights violators as Meernik (2003) suggested. Ultimately, the complex social impact of human rights violations and the politics of the justice made the ICC’s pursuit of justice for the victims much more complex.

There were still many strides made in the conflict and despite alternative explanations, the ICC could be directly attributed to the overall break down of the LRA, and consequently the small improvements in human rights in Uganda. One prominent explanation involved other international organizations such as the U.N. who sent their peacekeepers, that could account for the decreasing power of the LRA (Jowell 2014). However, the United Nations Peacekeeping Force, while acting as a deterrent against future violence, was limited to its military capabilities. It would not be able to resolve the need for justice and emotional closure within Uganda after such widespread human rights violations. The ICC could provide some sense of justice through its process. Additionally, the U.N. Peacekeepers would only be able to influence a small portion of the population due to its practical physical limitations. The spectacle of an ICC trial could be more effective in imparting human rights norms and demonstrating the strength of the international community in condemning human rights violators. Lastly, the U.N Peacekeepers were a military force, whereas the ICC served to bring about peace through solely peaceful means.

The effect of the ICC in improving adherence to international human rights norms and delivering justice in Uganda was much more tempered than the scholarly literature suggests. The ICC aided in reforming the Ugandan legal system, however its effect on crime and domestic and internal terrorism seem to be minimal. Additionally, the ICC may further complicate matters in the region as the debate between the ICC’s Western method of justice clashes with the traditional, restorative method of forgiveness. Its impact was far more nuanced than the academic literature suggested.


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