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Sofie Budhoo Bjerregaard


PhD Student

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Sofie Budhoo Bjerregaard

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My current research activities revolve around transitional- and restorative justice measures in Northern Uganda. More specifically, my PhD project aims to ethnographically examine how the International Criminal Court's four-year-long outreach project called the ‘Access to Justice Project’ (AJP) will affect local social dynamics and long-term sustainable peace in the Odek sub-county in Northern Uganda. The AJP was initiated across communities in Northern Uganda in 2017 after recent critiques that the ICC represents a particularly problematic kind of distant justice process. The project targeted affected communities in relation to the trial of Dominic Ongwen, a former brigadier in the Lord’s Resistance Army, with the aim of rendering the trial visible and meaningful to local victims. The project represented an unprecedented level of access and involvement of locals in any ICC court proceeding through the implementation of a broad range of outreach activities spanning from inter-communal dialogue meetings, video screenings from the court in The Hague, radio listening clubs and visits from the ICC outreach team. An independent impact assessment shows that the AJP was generally experienced as positive and that the local community members currently view the ICC in a positive light. However, the data also shows that the AJP simultaneously increased expectations of reparations amongst Ongwen’s victims and increased local tensions regarding the matter of division and management of the forthcoming reparations. This data became the starting point for my PhD project which aims at examining whether the increased access to international criminal justice and the involvement of the ICC has the potential to threaten the chances of creating long-term sustainable peace in Northern Uganda. Thus, over a four-year period spanning from 2022-2026, I will spend a total of 12 months in Uganda where I seek to ethnographically examine how such outreach activities of international criminal trials affect local social dynamics and sustainable peace in the context of the Odek sub-county of Acholi-land in Northern Uganda.

My Ph.D. project is currently titled 'Waiting in the Social Aftermath of Access' and is a part of the IRFD-funded mixed method research project 'After Access to Justice' which I am conducting in collaboration with my supervisor Christian B. N. Gade.

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