Analysing the Challenges & Opportunities for Reintegration & Rehabilitation of Child Soldiers in Northern Uganda

Research Paper Title

Child Soldiers in Northern Uganda: An Analysis of the Challenges and Opportunities for Reintegration and Rehabilitation.


The level of brutality and violence against children abducted and forcefully conscripted by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in northern Uganda pricked the conscience of humanity. The suffering of the people in northern Uganda was described by Jan Egeland, the former United Nations Under-Secretary for Humanitarian Affairs, as ‘the biggest forgotten humanitarian crisis in the world’. This study is primarily concerned with the plight of child soldiers in northern Uganda and how their effective reintegration and rehabilitation (RR) could lead to successful peacebuilding. The study is premised on the hypothesis that ‘the promotion of the RR of former child soldiers by providing psychosocial support based on traditional and indigenous resources may contribute to conditions of peace and stability in northern Uganda.’

The main contribution of this research is that it explores the relevance of psychosocial support based on the traditional and indigenous resources to the RR of child soldiers and peacebuilding of war-torn societies. Psychosocial support based on traditional and indigenous resources as an element of peacebuilding has been the neglected element of peacebuilding by the liberal peacebuilding interventions in most war-torn societies. For example, while traditional and indigenous resources in northern Uganda have been instrumental in the RR of former child soldiers, most scholars and policy makers have largely paid attention to the usual official government and United Nations structured top-down interventions that emphasise Western approaches of peacebuilding. More so, the official approaches have tended to marginalise the plight of former child soldiers in the reconstruction and peacebuilding of northern Uganda. Yet, failing to pay sufficient attention to effective RR of child soldiers could undermine the peace dividends already achieved in northern Uganda.

The study also analyses the limitations of psychosocial support based on traditional and indigenous resources in the RR of former child soldiers. It further examines why Western approaches of psychosocial support in the RR of child soldiers have remained in use in spite of the criticisms levelled against them. The study examines other peacebuilding interventions, both official and unofficial, that have been implemented in northern Uganda.

In terms of key findings, the study establishes that traditional and indigenous resources are still popular and have been widely used in northern Uganda in the RR of child soldiers. Majority of former child soldiers who were interviewed observed that they found traditional and indigenous resources more helpful than the Western models of psychosocial support. However, it was also established that there is a significant section of former child soldiers who found Western models more relevant in their RR processes. Based on these findings, the study recommends an integrative and holistic model of psychosocial support that blends good elements from both traditional and indigenous resources and Western approaches with greater emphasis on the former.


Bainomugisha, A. (2010) Child Soldiers in Northern Uganda: An Analysis of the Challenges and Opportunities for Reintegration and Rehabilitation. PhD Thesis. University of Bradford. Available from World Wide Web:;sequence=1%5D [Accessed: 29 June, 2018].


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