The warlord and the humanitarian

He looked a lot younger than I expected. And I was surprised how soft-spoken he was.” That’s how top U.N. official Jan Egeland described Joseph Kony, the leader of the notorious Lord’s Resistance Army. Egeland met Kony yesterday deep in the wilds of southern Sudan. Kony has been in hiding for months but emerged from the bush—surrounded ...

By , a professor at Indiana University’s Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies.
606182_egeland5.jpg
606182_egeland5.jpg

He looked a lot younger than I expected. And I was surprised how soft-spoken he was."

That's how top U.N. official Jan Egeland described Joseph Kony, the leader of the notorious Lord's Resistance Army. Egeland met Kony yesterday deep in the wilds of southern Sudan. Kony has been in hiding for months but emerged from the bush—surrounded by teenage gunmen—to discuss prospects for peace in northern Uganda. The LRA has been waging an often brutal insurgency there, leading thousands of children to travel for miles each night to avoid being enslaved by them.

Last week, Egeland said he would meet Kony only if the LRA released some of its captives, thought to include many children. But no captives were released. And Kony appears to have given no ground at the meeting.

He looked a lot younger than I expected. And I was surprised how soft-spoken he was.”

That’s how top U.N. official Jan Egeland described Joseph Kony, the leader of the notorious Lord’s Resistance Army. Egeland met Kony yesterday deep in the wilds of southern Sudan. Kony has been in hiding for months but emerged from the bush—surrounded by teenage gunmen—to discuss prospects for peace in northern Uganda. The LRA has been waging an often brutal insurgency there, leading thousands of children to travel for miles each night to avoid being enslaved by them.

Last week, Egeland said he would meet Kony only if the LRA released some of its captives, thought to include many children. But no captives were released. And Kony appears to have given no ground at the meeting.

Initially Mr Egeland said that such a meeting could only take place if the LRA agreed to a symbolic release of women and children. But after the meeting, Mr Kony insisted that his force had not abducted young people to fight.

So, what exactly did Egeland get out of shaking hands with one of the world’s most wanted men?

David Bosco is a professor at Indiana University’s Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies. He is the author of The Poseidon Project: The Struggle to Govern the World’s Oceans. Twitter: @multilateralist

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