A global campaign to bring to justice Joseph Kony, leader of Uganda’s guerilla Lord’s Resistance Army and number one on the International Criminal Court’s most wanted list, has spread across social media in Southampton and worldwide.
The Kony 2012 campaign, under the wing of Jason Russell, pressures for international intervention to end an atrocious stranglehold on over 30,000 Ugandan children, many of whom are forced to mutilate members of their community and kill their own parents.
As a result of this burgeoning activism, in late 2011 the United States deployed a small force to the region’s battlefield to provide military and technological assistance to Ugandan forces, hopefully enabling them to capture Kony and bring him to justice as soon as possible. Crucially, as Senators have pointed out, the continuation of this support is dependent upon the issue’s visibility and this is particularly urgent at a time it is believed that Kony is expanding his strangehold over the region.
The strategy has been to ensure and maintain Kony’s visibility in a world where technology makes the dissemination of information and the ability to impress ideas upon people’s consciousness quicker and more effective. High profile celebrities, or ‘culture makers’ such as Angelina Jolie, George Clooney and Lady Gaga have been asked to maintain public awareness and provide a powerful lobby, whilst significant Senators have also been urged to ensure that policies with Kony’s arrest as the central objective are constructed and enacted as urgently as possible.
Considering that the United Nations could not provide a consensus on the grounds for intervention in the earlier days of Ugandan conflict, despite the LRA’s barbaric creativity in its contravention of international Human Rights laws, it’s therefore not surprising, albeit lamentable, that the United States responded to the group’s concerns by stating that it would not deploy troops in regions where it did not have any foreign policy or economic interests. Undeterred, the movement focused upon gaining popular support to the extent where Washington and the international community would feel compelled to act upon a widespread and intractable dismay at the current situation.
Kony 2012 have pursued a relentless media and viral campaign to bring the leader to the zenith of celebrity culture and give him a status tantamount to or even bigger than that of the candidates for the coming US elections. Their aim is to educate every citizen of the world not only about the Lords’ Resistance Army’s operations, but Ugandan aspirations for a more civil and prosperous future in which children can develop and experience joy.
Inspired by the communitarian and humanitarian message of the video, local activists throughout the world are proceeding to follow its recommendations and spread the message in their community. However, criticisms have been quick to follow, and can be found on websites such as this, though the validity of their claims is sometimes difficult to verify.