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To Stop a Warlord

My Story of Justice, Grace, and the Fight for Peace

By Shannon Sedgwick Davis
16-minute read
Audio available
To Stop a Warlord: My Story of Justice, Grace, and the Fight for Peace by Shannon Sedgwick Davis

To Stop a Warlord (2019) is an inspiring account of a remarkable mission: the quest to bring to justice one of the world’s most notorious war criminals – Joseph Kony, leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army. Packed with insights into Africa’s longest-running conflict, this account tells how Shannon Sedgwick Davis helped assemble an unlikely alliance between philanthropists, the Ugandan military and a South African mercenary to take on Kony’s army across four countries. While that coalition might not have achieved its primary objective of bringing Kony to justice, it did help tip the balance in favor of peace.

  • Campaigners, activists and human-rights advocates
  • Politics buffs fascinated by Central Africa’s past and present
  • Anyone interested in conflict resolution

Shannon Sedgwick Davis is the CEO of the Bridgeway Foundation, an NGO dedicated to ending mass atrocities in conflict zones around the world. An award-winning human-rights advocate, Davis previously served as the vice president of Geneva Global, an international philanthropy consulting company. She is also a member of the advisory council of The Elders, a group founded by Nelson Mandela to bring together statesmen and -women committed to human rights.

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To Stop a Warlord

My Story of Justice, Grace, and the Fight for Peace

By Shannon Sedgwick Davis
  • Read in 16 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 10 key ideas
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To Stop a Warlord: My Story of Justice, Grace, and the Fight for Peace by Shannon Sedgwick Davis
Synopsis

To Stop a Warlord (2019) is an inspiring account of a remarkable mission: the quest to bring to justice one of the world’s most notorious war criminals – Joseph Kony, leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army. Packed with insights into Africa’s longest-running conflict, this account tells how Shannon Sedgwick Davis helped assemble an unlikely alliance between philanthropists, the Ugandan military and a South African mercenary to take on Kony’s army across four countries. While that coalition might not have achieved its primary objective of bringing Kony to justice, it did help tip the balance in favor of peace.

Key idea 1 of 10

Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army became the most notorious group in a long-running conflict in East-Central Africa.

In early 2013, human-rights activist Shannon Sedgwick Davis received a call in her San Antonio, Texas home. It was Laren Poole, her friend and collaborator in a lengthy campaign to capture Joseph Kony, the leader of a Ugandan guerilla movement called the Lord’s Resistance Army or LRA. Poole had exciting news: Kony had been located.

But before we get to that, let’s rewind a little. Why were two Americans set on tracking down an indicted war criminal in East-Central Africa? Well, they both believed apprehending Kony was the key to ending a brutal war which had broken out in the 1980s.

To understand that conflict, however, we need to go even further back. When British colonizers made their way down the Nile in the 1890s, they established a series of states. “Uganda” was named after the old kingdom of the Baganda, a powerful southern ethnic group who now became the new country’s elite. That was bad news for the Acholi, a pastoral northern minority whose role in Uganda would be restricted to exploitative labor and army service.

Tensions between the two groups outlasted the end of colonial rule in 1962. Kony, an Acholi Christian born a year earlier, grew up in the middle of a guerilla war that pitted northern rebels against the government.

In 1986, the short-lived government of an Acholi general was overthrown by Yoweri Museveni, Uganda’s current president. In the ensuing civil war, a new force emerged – the Holy Spirit Movement or HSM, a religious movement to “purify” the Acholi people. Kony quickly rose through its ranks. By the time the HSM was defeated in 1987, he was a trusted general. That allowed him to recruit fighters and create his own army to protect the Acholi against expected reprisals. This army was the LRA.

Sporadic fighting continued until 1994. Exhausted by decades of war, northern Ugandans were ready to embrace peace, and support for the LRA declined. Faced with a collapsing army, Kony turned to the practice for which he’d become notorious: abducting civilians, including children, to fill his ranks.

Over the next decade, the LRA waged a war of terror in northern Uganda. As the conflict spilled over Uganda’s borders into neighboring Sudan, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, the atrocities mounted. All in all, the LRA forcibly recruited some 300,000 children as soldiers and sex slaves, killed hundreds of thousands of people and displaced two million civilians.

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