An Overview & Analysis of Contemporary DDR

From Julia Rachiele at the New School

Last week’s reading and discussion regarding the evolution of Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration (DDR) over time, for me draws parallel to other aspects of global governance within the international community. Not only do the generations of DDR seems to develop in conjunction with the goals and beliefs of the Global North of the time, but they also seem to act as fulfilling the needs and wants of the recipients more as DDR discourse progresses. Understandably so, as the major stakeholders are the donors, organizations, ad governments intervening in post-conflict situations. However, DDR needs to continue to progress in a way that mitigates the effects of the difference of what the key stakeholders are each aiming to gain from the DDR process.
As society develops, so do the practices, beliefs and norms. However, an overarching theme has been shown in the international community’s interactions over the years, as a self-serving bias off the Global North. Personally, I drew parallels between the evolution of human rights discourse and the establishment of DDR initiatives. The former having been established as a norm in the early 20th century, while the latter has only just begun to become formalized. The two do collide over the confusion in their respective discussions on what to do and how to do it. DDR originally developed as a way to grant states sovereignty, in a way was realizing the beliefs of the Global North. The first generation of DDR granted states sovereignty through assistance from northern global powers. These new nations were then appointed governments, typically consisting of the former rebellion fighters of the conflict. This is a way allowed the global powers to still have influence within the newly formed country, as a way to continue furthering their own agenda. This parallels the early establishment of human rights in that the former colonies were able to realize their own independence under the permission ff their former colonizer, while still holding stakes financially within the country.
Going into the second generation off DDR, various stakeholders emerged to facilitate the activities. Including, NGOs, NPOs, International governing bodies, and foreign governments. The basis of the second generation of DDR was to promote development and work with al those involved in the DDR process. This differed from the first generation in that, women, children, communities, and all actors were taken into consideration during planning. The use of various actors with varying degrees and types of power allow multifaceted and innovative approaches to take place. While beneficial in that it is being carried out more in the context of the communities, other issues also arise. The main issues that arise are that programs are going on simultaneously but might not be working in conjunction, and that reinsertion might be happening, but full reintegration is not realized. Also, as in human rights initiatives non-government actors are intervening, to assist all individuals in need, and their levels of accountability and responsibility are not formalized. Leading to the question of, who is to be held responsible when DDR does not succeed and might cause unexpected harm in other areas.
The international community is currently in the third generation of DDR. Building upon the earlier generations, this generation integrates political aspects into the process. This is significant as the newly established governments need to retain their sovereignty during the fragile transitional stages of DDR. The thought is that by empowering the governments the countries are able to continue once the foreign powers withdraw from the country. However, this line of thinking has had its own issues arise from it. DDR continues to develop as initiatives proceed, and only overtime will practitioners learn through experience of what doesn’t work and what has been found to be beneficial in the process.

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