Lord’s Resistance Army in Central Africa Cross-border solutions to a regional problem


  • Gabriella Ingerstad

Publish date: 2012-02-24

Report number: FOI-R--3399--SE

Pages: 59

Written in: Swedish


  • Lord’s Resistance Army
  • LRA
  • African Union
  • Central Africa


During the autumn of 2011 the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) once again appeared on the international agenda as the AU, USA, and the UN decided to halt the rebels' progress. During many years the LRA has had a negative impact on the security situation in Central Africa. The Ugandan rebel group has remained a threat against the security of the civilian population in the region over the last years, and has contributed to instability in the Central African region. The group operates in the Central African Republic (CAR), the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and South Sudan, an unstable area with weak infrastructure. Regional and international actors have to a large extent failed to protect civilians against LRA atrocities, which has contributed to an emerging humanitarian disaster in the region. This study provides a short description of the origins, motives and structure of the LRA, as well as an overview of how regional and international actors have responded to the group's presence in the region. The aim is to increase the understanding of the rebel group's incentives with the objective to identify potential solutions to the problems they cause in Central Africa. Among other things, this study shows how the AU is in need of external support to enhance its capacity to act in in such a context. Furthermore, the study highlights what challenges international and regional actors face when operating in areas where state capacity is low or non-existing. The study concludes that one crucial factor is to develop the infrastructure in the region. In the short term, improved infrastructure could facilitate the distribution of humanitarian aid. In the long term improved infrastructure could have a positive impact on political and socio-economic development in the region and thereby undermine the existence of the rebel group. Equally important is for international actors to support the ambition in the AU regional initiative to integrate planning of protection of civilians in all military operations. The state security forces in the region face severe challenges due to weak capacity, insufficient training and lack of mechanisms for accountability. The report highlights the importance of better coordination between the state security forces in the region, ongoing UN missions and other involved actors. Finally potential political solutions to the problem with LRA are discussed.