Faculty Scholarship

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



African conflicts have been caused in part by regimes that do not respect democracy. Uganda is an illustrative case. International actors have played along under an undeclared policy of constructive engagement, but this has essentially served only to delay democratic evolution. As a result, Ugandan leaders have become increasingly autocratic. In such circumstances, reliance on the military and personal rule based on patronage--as opposed to democracy and the rule of law-have become critically important in governance. Yet forceful measures often only beget forceful reactions. The best hope for democracy is for courts to enforce the will of the people as expressed in the laws enacted by their elected representatives. This would depend on both the effective, uncorrupted actions of the legislature and an emboldened and independent judiciary. There is still much work to be done in Uganda. At present, the executive turns courts into legitimization instruments for its otherwise undemocratic actions. Real change ultimately will depend upon an enhanced role of international actors and an emboldened and independent judiciary. [excerpt]