Following Pope Paul 1V’s appeal to the entire Church to take concrete action towards people’s development by establishing Justice and Peace Commissions in each diocese in the entire world, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference in Uganda responded to the call in 1979 by starting the National Commission, which was officially opened in 1986, after the Bush War that brought the current government into power.

The major aim was to empower people with knowledge and skills to challenge and stand against all evils the country had suffered and was continuing to suffer since Uganda’s independence of 1962. The evils included, among others; dictatorship, unlawful detentions, indiscriminate killings, war, violence, corruption, nepotism, and severe tortures.

The commission was mandated to promote and foster human rights, empowerment of the people with special option for the poor and disadvantaged, promote democratization and constitutionalism, accountability and transparency.   A commitment to prevention of conflict from developing into war and violence as first priority was very much stressed.

In order to ensure that there is a strong collaboration and synergy among the various departments, the bishops restructured the commission and put it together with Caritas Uganda. Currently the two departments fall under the Caritas, Justice and Peace Commission.

The Justice and Peace Department focuses on the promotion of the Catholic Social Teaching. It conducts various programmes in the areas of civic education, research and publication, advocacy, reconciliation, mediation and peace-building. During political campaigns and elections, the department plays an active role in voter education and elections monitoring. Under its Parliamentary Liaison Desk, the department works together with the catholic parliamentary chaplaincy to link the bishops’ conference with the institution of the Parliament of the Republic of Uganda.

The department works with government, civil society organizations, trade unions, faith based organizations and other stake holders in the promotion and implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. It works closely with the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development and the International Labour Organization in the promotion of decent work in the Uganda’s Informal Economy. The department also co-ordinates and builds capacity of the Diocesan Commissions for Justice and Peace in Uganda.