Political Science, Department of


First Advisor

Courtney Hillebrecht

Date of this Version



Reilly, Julia. 2016. Can International Criminal Law Deter Rebel Groups?: The Case of Uganda, the Lord's Resistance Army, and the International Criminal Court. Unpublished Masters Thesis, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, Nebraska.


A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Arts, Major: Political Science, Under the Supervision of Professor Courtney Hillebrecht. Lincoln, Nebraska: December 2016.

Copyright 2016 Julia Reilly


How does a state’s commitment to international criminal accountability mechanisms affect the tactics of rebel groups fighting against it? I examine the conflict between Uganda and the Lord’s Resistance Army, spanning four phases from 1996 until 2015, and parse out whether Uganda’s stance on the Rome Statute and the International Criminal Court affected the LRA’s propensity to target civilians. I use descriptive statistics of civilian and military casualties and qualitative case studies, drawing largely on newspaper and NGO reports of events in the conflict. I find that the affect of Uganda’s signaling on justice on the LRA’s civilian targeting is conditioned by several factors, including principal-agent relationships among the LRA, inconsistency of signaling and subsequent doubts about credibility, and learning processes among all actors about the role of the ICC in ongoing conflict.

Advisor: Courtney Hillebrecht