Interrogating Uganda’s role in hosting NAM summit amidst human rights concerns 

(Last Updated On: 16 January 2024)

Uganda I As Uganda hosts the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit, there are serious questions abound about the suitability of a country facing allegations of gross human rights violations as the event’s host. 

The framers of the NAM Bandung Conference agreed on ten fundamental principles, some of which are: respect for fundamental human rights in accordance with the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all nations. Has Uganda lived up to these values and principles which constitute the cornerstone of NAM?

Reports of abductions, torture, and killings of its own citizens cast a shadow over Uganda’s credentials to hold a conference that advocates for peace, sovereignty, and independence.

Citizens of Uganda have endured gross human rights violations since the 1980s, with atrocities that caused great loss of life and property such as the 1981-1985 Luwero Triangle killings (200,000), 1998 Kichwamba student massacres (80), 2009 Kayunga massacres (27), 2016 Kasese Palace massacres (100), and November 2020 Protest massacres (200), which are all well documented.

Furthermore, Uganda has been making military incursions into neighbouring countries like DRC which runs counter to the NAM principles of respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of member states.

Also read: 5 UPDF Generals to be retired in April ‘to join politics’

The apparent contradiction between Uganda’s internal and external actions on the one hand and the principles of the NAM on the other, raises the question: What justifications does Uganda offer for hosting such a diplomatic event? Critics argue that a country engaged in severe human rights abuses fundamentally contradicts the very values the NAM aims to uphold. 

Uganda’s government, when pressed on the matter, contends that hosting the NAM meeting is an opportunity to showcase the nation’s commitment to diplomacy and regional stability. They assert that engaging with the international community through events like NAM provides a platform for dialogue and understanding.

However, skeptics argue that such justifications fall short when measured against the backdrop of reported human rights violations and military incursions against member states. The dilemma intensifies as Uganda, a member of the NAM, faces scrutiny for potentially compromising the alliance’s core principles. 

The international community watches closely as the NAM unfolds in Kampala, with expectations that leaders will address the paradox of a country grappling with human rights and military incursion accusations simultaneously hosting a diplomatic gathering. 

There were debates about whether there could be any legitimate justification for Uganda’s role in hosting the NAM meeting, given the stark contrast between its internal actions as well as external actions and the alliance’s proclaimed values.

The writer, Joe WhalouXhaso is a political analyst and human rights activist.

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