State Capacity and Counter-terrorism Measures in Uganda
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According to Whitaker, countries that experience international or domestic terrorism are more likely to comply with the UN international counterterrorism regime than those that are less threatened. Given the history of violence and unrest in Uganda, this observation holds true. The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 1373 (2001) requires member states to uphold international conventions on terrorism and put in place relevant domestic legislation to implement the agreements. The Security Council has recognized the ratification and effective implementation of the universal anti-terrorism instruments as a top priority. On 28 September 2001, acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations, it adopted resolution 1373 (2001), stating explicitly that every act of terrorism constitutes a “threat to international peace and security” and that the “acts, methods, and practices of terrorism are contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.” The resolution also requires all States to criminalize terrorist acts; to penalize acts of support for or in preparation of terrorist offences; to criminalize the financing of terrorism; to depoliticize terrorist offences; to freeze funds of persons who commit or attempt to commit terrorist acts; and to strengthen international cooperation in criminal matters. By 2002, Uganda had ratified a few of the international conventions on terrorism and enacted the Anti-Terrorism Act. The intention for ratification was to ensure that Uganda meets its international obligations (i.e. in pursuit of the objectives of the UN counter-terrorism regime) as well as to suppress acts of terrorism and provide for the punishment of persons who plan, instigate, support, finance or execute acts of terrorism. Whitaker further notes that after the September 11th 2001 terrorist attacks, the more powerful states, particularly United States, pressured weaker states to adopt the international counter-terrorism regime, pass domestic laws, share intelligence, and track individuals and groups involved in terrorism. Uganda complied with the international conventions on terrorism mainly because of its own terrorism threat posed by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), which had transnational links. The requirements of the international counterterrorism regime congregated with Uganda’s interest to establish partnerships in the fight against terrorism. Uganda’s counterterrorism measures comprise a combination of law enforcement (police, immigration, and customs), intelligence, military and, diplomatic approaches among others. The arguments that realists put forth in their attempt to counter terrorism, recognize that realism is a theoretically broad category with numerous distinctions and variations. Michael Doyle, for example, describes realists as “the theorists of the ‘state of war”’ who adopt three core assumptions: first, international politics takes place in a condition of anarchy; second, the main actors are independent sovereign states that recognize no higher power; and third, that “the lack of a legitimate international source of controlling authority means no restraint whether moral, social, cultural, economic, or political is sufficiently strong or general either to eliminate completely or to manage reliably conflicts of interest, prestige, or value.” The realists, are opposed to Liberal approaches and the theory is often depicted as presenting a deeply pessimistic account of international politics in which all actors are compelled to seek power in order to ensure their own survival and security. In all violent situations is the question of leadership, whereby the fact is that history relates all these acts to a lack of qualitative governance. Leadership is about influencing people so that they can accept one’s ideas as their leader. Influence can be positive or negative, depending on the personality and capability of a given leader. As such the influence of most post-colonial leaders in Uganda has been negative and divisive, leading to the unending conflicts and the resort to use of violence to suppress some sections of community. Odhiambo, Ryan and Wilson defines leadership as an organizing element for the survival of any human community . Their argument is that the existence of a society is immediately in jeopardy if there is no qualitative leadership. Certainly, the lack of qualitative leadership appears to be the main problem faced by Uganda since independence in 1962. This is how post-colonial Ugandan leaders have conducted themselves. Uganda’s political leaders have, since independence failed to build a consensus on which political institutions can be built to resolve political conflicts, short of physical force. However, the current regime headed by President Museveni remains a strong advocate of cross-border solutions to regional security issues, commendably sustained U.S counterterrorism struggles and revealed robust administrative will to apprehend alleged terrorists and disrupt terrorism activity along its boarders. Odoi contends that such strength is not a state monopoly entirely, but a means by which political groups seek to establish their supremacy over other competing political groups. This implies that when a group or groups is or are denied access to political and economic resources, they resort to violent options, leading to upheavals and conflicts that have come to define the Ugandan state. This study briefly explains the meaning of terrorism and counter-terrorism, and discusses the relationship between state capacity and counter-terrorism measures in Uganda since 1962. In terms of the capacity of the state, it analyses the opportunities, abilities / inability of the state to detect, protect, prevent and prosecute the individuals involved in terror attacks. The study looks at the opportunity and ability of non-state actors to rise up against the state itself, and the state’s capacity to maintain its influence throughout the entirety of its territory, through military, administrative, bureaucratic and technological resources controlled by the government. It also explains the notion of state capacity focusing majorly on militaristic and bureaucratic approaches. Additionally, it assesses other push factors like economic conditions, poverty, marginalized groups that influence terrorism and violent activities. The study also assesses the technological abilities of state institutions in countering terrorism, advancing the argument that technologically Uganda needs to increase drastically in her technological capacity so as to manage, detect and counter terrorist threats especially those emanating from cyber involvement from both internal and external organizations. Furthermore, the study argues that in contemporary times, unlike the past, Uganda ought to improve the social-economic welfare of its multi-ethnic population which if not handled carefully may lead to heightened tensions emanating from high poverty levels which may consequently bread violent criminal acts perpetrated by creation of class inequalities, ethnic differences, radical political groups and terrorist agents. It further argues that it is high time the government started to provide basic necessities/welfare for the populace especially the educated unemployed youth who are most highly targeted by these external terrorist groups’ agents and other political forces, to join partisan politics because they have been frustrated by the political system and so they are anxious to venture into new avenues of either revenge or personal aspirations. The study discusses the existing counter terrorism institutional framework at international/regional levels briefly and domestic institutional frameworks to unpack how terrorist threats are countered at all layers in relation to state capacity.