Betty Bigombe is a Ugandan peacebuilder. For more than two decades, she has been involved in negotiation and mediation efforts to resolve the long-running conflict between the government of Uganda and the Lord’s Resistance Army. She continues to work for a peaceful end to the country’s violence. (Video Transcript)
Learn More about Betty Bigombe
The civil war in northern Uganda between the government and the rebel group the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) began in the late 1980s. While rebel leader Joseph Kony claimed to fight for the rights of the region’s Acholi people, the Acholis bore the brunt of the fighting.
The LRA forced large numbers of people from their homes, and tens of thousands of civilians—including many women and children—were terrorized or killed.
Betty Bigombe was a member of the Ugandan Parliament. She was appointed Minister of State for Pacification of north and north eastern Uganda, and was tasked with seeking a peaceful end to the violent conflict there.
Prior to Bigombe’s appointment, military efforts to stop the violence and establish peace talks had not succeeded. Bigombe reached out to Joseph Kony, the rebel leader, and initiated talks that brought the rebel leaders and government ministers face to face for the first time.
Betty Bigombe acted as a lead negotiator on behalf of the Ugandan government, and then later became an independent mediator in the peace process. Even after talks collapsed, Bigombe continued to urge the rebels to return to the negotiating table. While the violence in northern Uganda has eased in recent years, the LRA continues to wage brutal attacks in neighboring countries, and efforts to promote peace still continue.
From 2005—2007, Bigombe was a Jennings Randolph Senior Fellow at the U.S. Institute of Peace.