In mid-June 2016, Liu Institute Professor Erin Baines, along with author Evelyn Amony, participated in two special events in New York focused on the stories of victims of sexual and gender-based violence. The events were co-organized by UN Women, the International Center for Transitional Justice, and the Liu Institute for Global Issues at UBC, and generously hosted by the Permanent Mission of Canada to the UN. Please find reflections from New York below, as well as research on the topic area and ways to become further engaged.
While in New York, Dr. Baines and partners co-organized a series of meetings with decision makers and influenced the UN Security Council to issue a statement that the armed group, the Lord’s Resistance Army, was still a growing concern. Read the UN Secretary General’s Report on the Situation in Central Africa, as issued in English and French:
Reflections from New York
I am Evelyn Amony Book Launch
The launch of Evelyn Amony’s recently released memoir, I am Evelyn Amony: Reclaiming my Life from the Lord’s Resistance Army, took place on June 14th, 2016. Reflecting on her life as the forced wife to Joseph Kony, leader of the armed group the Lord’s Resistance Army, Amony provides a rare glimpse inside the rebel group that continues to operate in Central and East Africa to date, nearly 30 years after it was founded.
Abducted as a child, Amony first trained as Kony’s personal escort before becoming his wife at 14, bearing three of his children. Evelyn’s memoir recalls daily life at the centre of the LRA high command, including the challenges of daily life and navigating complex gender relations. Following her capture in 2004 and a brief reunion with her family, Evelyn participated in the Juba Peace Talks to act as a liaison between Kony and peace delegates. When the talks collapsed, Amony returned to care for her children and siblings in the grinding poverty that is life after the war in northern Uganda.
Now chair of the Women’s Advocacy Network (WAN) composed of 900 survivors, Amony strives for justice and reparation on behalf of war affected persons to date.
Women and Girls in Conflict: Learning from Lived Experience to Inform Policy Responses
To ‘learn from lived experience’ is to recognize the agency of victims, acting within limited and debilitating positions, and to begin to work with this knowledge to design better policies and programmes to widen spaces for seeking peace, security and justice at level of the everyday.
The workshop took place on 16 June, following the New York launch of I am Evelyn Amony. By using the book as a starting point for a discussion on learning from lived experiences, the workshop brought together survivors of conflict, including the author, with policy-makers, practitioners and donors, to humanize conflict and peace and security interventions, and explore how everyday life can shed new insights into policy or program needs. The workshop contributed to a better understanding among policymakers, practitioners and donors responsible for peace and security programming of the complexity surrounding conflict-related violence and its impacts in order to inform more nuanced and long-term policy responses.
Learn more in the Workshop Concept Note – Learning from Lived Experience.
Read the UN Women’s press release “I Am Evelyn Amony”: A memoir of war, rape and survival.
Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown
Learn more in this NPR interview with Evelyn Amony about how she was able to pick up the pieces in the aftermath of her abduction: How A Child Soldier Reclaimed Her Former Self.
Evelyn Amony’s bravery not only helped her survive and escape captivity from the Lord’s Resistance Army, but has made her an advocate for thousands of abducted women and children who face long term consequences after returning home. Learn more about her efforts in this Inter Press Service piece, A Courageous Life After Escaping the Lord’s Resistance Army.
Purchase your copy of I Am Evelyn Amony: Reclaiming my Life from the Lord’s Resistance Army from the University of Wisconsin Press.
Listen to the audio of To Have and To Hold: Evelyn Amony’s Story on CBC Radio.
Listen to Evelyn speak about how she and her children are yet to be fully reintegrated into Ugandan society years after fleeing from the notorious Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) on the BBC’s Life after the LRA: ‘Kony’s daughters are not loved in Uganda.’
Watch Stronghearted, a National Film Board of Canada short by Jodie Martinson that tells the first pivotal part of Evelyn’s story as she remembers it years later: the moment she comes face to face with Kony himself. The child regards this man—her kidnapper, her abuser. Facing impossible circumstances, Evelyn begins to wonder: Could he hold the key to her survival?
Erin Baines’ work at UBC has focused on how communities live through and make sense of mass violence. She focuses specially on survivors of sexual and gender based violence in war time and questions of resistance, responsibility and justice. She edited Evelyn Amony’s memoir I am Evelyn Amony: Reclaiming my Life from the Lord’s Resistance Army and wrote a book, Buried in the Heart: Women, Complex Victimhood and the War in Northern Uganda (publication planned for January 2017) based on the stories of 30 women who were forced into marriage with the rebel group, the LRA.
UBC is a partner on a SSHRC Partnership Grant on Conjugal Slavery in Wartime, and Professor Baines was recentlyawarded a new 5 year SSHRC Insight on Fatherhood and Forced Marriage in Wartime, along with a Peter Wall Roundtable on Memory and Social Responsibility after Mass Violence (with UBC Professor and Liu Faculty Affiliate Pilar Riaño-Alcalá). The aim is to launch a Memory and Justice Research Stream at UBC in the next year, so please stay tuned.
Further Engagement in the Topic Area
Related UBC Courses, with Professor Baines:
- Human Rights and Justice seminar (GPP 567 001) Linkages between human rights, development and justice and the policy interventions which flow from them. Human rights policy including: international organizations, national actors, non-governmental organizations and communities.
- Problems in International Relations seminar (POLI 464B 001)
- Research Seminar in International Relations (POLI 564B 001)
- Special Topics in Public Policy lecture (GPP 591B 001) Offerings respond to current policy debates, topics of emerging interest, availability of visiting scholars, and interest in non-traditional courses incorporating practitioner expertise, interest in particular disciplinary perspectives missing from core courses and electives, and interest in specific regions or countries.
Evelyn Amony is planning to visit Vancouver for a Canadian launch of her book at UBC-Vancouver (date to be determined).
Erin Baines. “Today, I Want to Speak Out the Truth”: Victim Agency, Responsibility, and Transitional Justice.” International Political Sociology (2015).
Erin Baines. ‘Forced Marriage as a Political Project: Sexual Rules and Regulations in the Lord’s Resistance Army,’ Journal of Peace Research, 51.3 (2014).
Erin Baines and Lara Rosenoff Gauvin. ‘Motherhood and social repair after war and displacement in northern Uganda,’ Journal of Refugee Studies, Special Issue, March (2014).
Amony, Evelyn and Erin Baines. ‘Human Rights in Transitions from Conflict’. Human Rights: The Hard Questions. Ed. Cindy Holder and David Reidy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Pres (2013).
Riaño-Alcalá, Pilar, and Erin Baines Editorial Note, Special Issue on Transitional Justice and the Everyday, International Journal of Transitional Justice, 6.3 (2012).