Building on 2nd Generation DDR Strategies for a 3rd Generation Framework

 After the release of the Brahimi Report in 2000, DDR practitioners began making changes to the way they operated in the field and thought about DDR as a program. The report, the response of a commission tasked with reforming peacekeeping operations at the UN, illustrated and called for change to inefficiencies that had become rampant in peacekeeping operations and a change in the culture of the UN to better meet the needs of the people it serves.

The report said, “Without renewed commitment on the part of Member States, significant institutional change and increased financial support, the United Nations will not be capable of executing the critical peacekeeping and peace-building tasks that the Member States assign to it in coming months and years.” (Brahimi Executive Summary 1). The report also calls for realistic mandates and robust doctrine in order to know when peacekeeping is a good idea and when it is not. The report questions the neutrality of the UN, saying it can be used to inflict harm and as an excuse not to intervene when there is clearly a right and a wrong happening. In order to implement these changes, the report calls for larger, more costly peacekeeping forces with the authorization to use force when it is called for.

These changes, first laid out in 2004, helped pave the way for the IDDRS, integrated DDR standards, which are the “bible” of sorts for DDR practitioners and are used as a way to integrate the information from many different UN agencies and departments to provide guidelines for implementing DDR programs. The IDDRS was a direct response to the Brahimi report and a way for the UN to document needed changes taking place after the end of the cold war. However, the IDDRS was based upon cold war assumptions of post-conflict areas. While conflict was changing dramatically, the infant policy lagged behind practice in the field. At the beginning of the IDDRS it says the following preconditions must be enacted before DDR can take place, “the signing of a negotiated peace agreement that provides a legal framework for DDR; trust in the peace process; willingness of the parties to the conflict to engage in DDR; and a minimum guarantee of security.”(2.10 pg 1) However, by the time this was written, it was increasingly not the case with more intrastate conflicts without peace agreements or an expectation of security in DDR environments.

To supplement the DDR, “Second generation DDR Practices in Peace Operations” published in 2010 and written by Professor Erin McCandless, take these changes, labeling them “Second Generation DDR” and discusses policy moving forward. The document defines second generation as, “Whereas traditional DDR focuses mainly on combatants that are present within military structures, the focus of Second Generation programmes shifts away from military structures towards the larger communities that are affected by armed violence” (3). Moving on it illustrates that 2nd generation programs are implemented even when a traditional peace process is not underway. This includes “building the foundation for longer term peacekeeping”(3). The report lumps the second generation changes in three categories: post-conflict stabilization measures, targeting specific groups, and alternative approaches to addressing disarmament and unregulated weapons (4-5) using examples from Cote D’Ivoire, Afghanistan, Haiti and Sierra Leone. While optimistic about the implementation of these new tactics to supplement the IDDRS in DDR initatives, the report warns in its conclusion “further work is necessary to refine the methodology of these practices as well as to develop a clear division of labor that ensures that Second Generation DDR is systematically applied in a manner that emphasizes deliverability and builds upon the comparative advantages of all actors” (31). Five years after the publishing of “Second Generation Practices in Peace Operations”, peacekeeping faces even newer challenges in the form of what has been called third generation DDR. These latest conflicts are not only intra state conflicts where DDR is being implemented without a peace agreement, but there is also an increase in foreign and ideological fighters in non-state settings (such as al-shabab in Somalia, and ISIS in Syria and Iraq). Not only is there no peace agreement, but active violence is still underway in many areas where DDR is being implemented as well. These conflicts mean that, according to Robert Muggah and Chris O’Donnell in the Stability Journal this year, “DDR has transformed from a carefully sequenced set of activities undertaken in the wake of negotiated peace deals to a widening cluster of measures that can include negotiating (and even implementing) the terms of peace itself.” Using countering violent extremism measures and disengaging militants from their radical organizations is now a job of DDR, in addition to what is laid out in the IDDRS as under the jurisdiction of DDR.

Overall, a return to the basics of DDR – a necessary piece of building security sector reform (SSR), with implementation of 2nd generation tactics and newer CVE methods such as deradicalization, combined with buy-in from local and regional actors is what will make third generation DDR possible. While flexibility is mandatory and increasingly necessary, having clearly defined objectives and goals, as well as a system for monitoring and evaluation will ensure that future DDRs will be an effective peacebuilding measure.


Brahimi, Lakdhar. “Report of the Panel on United Nations Peace Operations.” United Nations General Assembly and Security Council: August 21, 2000

Muggah, Robert and O’Donnell, Chris. “Next Generation Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration.” Stability: International Journal of Security and Development: Vol 4, Issue 1. May 21, 2015.

“Second Generation Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration (DDR) Practices in Peace Operations.” UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations Office of Rule of Law and Security Institutions, Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration Section. New York: 2010.

UN/Inter-agency Group on Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration, Integrated Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration Standards (IDDRS) (New York: United Nations, 2006).  (Level 1-2:  Modules 1.10, 1.20, 2.10, 2.20, and 2.30).