Disbanding Illegal Armed Groups (DIAG) Program in Afghanistan: Flexibility of Peace Operations through Conflict Sensitive Designs.

By: GEORGINA VÁZQUEZ DE LOS REYES

The assumption that all peace interventions will in fact contribute to achieving peace is certainly obsolete and inaccurate. Peace operations have unintended consequences that might be harmful to the context in which they are taking place. As a result, a fundamental characteristic of peace mandates, should be continuous conflict assessments, as well as monitoring and evaluation of the mission performance.

Such characteristics implies that donors, implementing agencies and country-level partners should understand any peacekeeping operation as essentially flexible. This flexibility, in addition, does translate into the possible reconfiguration originating theories of change, as well as of goals, objectives, benchmarks and indicators. This process, might even result in the transformation of the defining goals of a mission, as some cases of Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) shows.

DDR proves no different when it comes to the need to be a flexible mandate and intervention, particularly if one of the guiding principles is “Do No Harm”. This means that it has the capacity to rephrase its most essential and defining components, such as disarmament and reintegration, and replace them by context adequate initiatives and programs, or even accept a different implementing architecture. This is the case of DDR in Afghanistan.

When in 2003, a DDR mandate, the Afghan New Beginning Program (ANBP), was established by mandate of the United Nations Security Council in coordination with Afghanistan’s transitional government, the usual objective of disarmament proved to be partially effective.

As the country was still experiencing overall insecurity, and the war economy was effectively providing livelihoods, the measure to disarm seemed limited to attend illegal armed groups emerging all over the country. Giving up the arms for the case of illegal armed also proved difficult as the trust towards the “disarming” authority, the government, was still not consolidated. The measure posted the challenge of extending the mission until reconciliation and trust was achieved, or choosing to transform the fundamental concept of disarming into one of disbanding and weapons management. This resulted in the creation of the Disbanding Illegal Armed Groups (DIAG) program which followed the original DDR program in 2004.

The DIAG focused on weapons management through the creation of data bases that could register and track small arms and light weapons (SALW) and positioned itself as a political guidance process as it tested a context-responsive and conflict sensitive program that was successful in such terms.

In the same manner, DDR in Afghanistan was transformed by the DIAG in its reintegration component in terms of responsibility to execute. As part of the follo-up to ANBP DDR, the ‘Disbanding’ a new architecture for implementation and funding was suggested to decentralize the reintegration component in order to prevent the concentration of resources among one particular group or region,

These to aspects illustrate the importance of thinking about DDR with updated approaches and Theories of Change, flexibility and conflict sensitivity. If transitioning is a big achievement within peace consolidation, thus the importance of transitioning from DDR mandates to other security-governance options and modalities may enhance DDR and the entire reintegration process.  

Women’s essential contribution to peacebuilding

By: Lina Castellanos

Including women in peace negotiation processes is essential to sustainable DDR

efforts. Throughout history, all sorts of arguments have been made to exclude women’s

participation in peacebuilding: lack of negotiation skills, lack of experience, war being a

men’s field and some others that have proven to be mistaken not only because it is

clear war isn’t exclusively dominated by male combatants but also because women

have experienced war in different roles: as victims, perpetrators and peacebuilders. In

2000, the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and

Security acknowledged the importance of including women in peacebuilding. The

Security Council, urged member states to increase the representation of women at all

decision-making levels for the prevention, management, and resolution of conflict, and

expressed its willingness to incorporate a gender perspective into peacekeeping

operations and involving women in all peacekeeping and peacebuilding measures. For

the first time, women’s perceptions and contributions were recognized in post-conflict

scenarios. Yet, since the approval of Resolution 1325 it hasn’t always been the case

that women are actively included in peacebuilding efforts. In that sense, women are still

stigmatized and marginalized in their communities in a post conflict environment.

Women tend to be the most affected during conflicts but they are also more likely

to unify and advocate for peace. Besides, they have proven to create non-violent

resistant strategies that enrich the creation of a peace environment. In Colombia, for

example, la Ruta Pacífica de las Mujeres –The Women’s Pacifist Route- is a non-violent

feminist movement that has made visible the way war has affected Colombian women.

Since 1996, the movement has claimed for truth and justice and has successfully

transformed the idea of women perceived solely as victims of the conflict into a more

active role of women being socially and politically engaged in peacebuilding. Today

more than 10,000 women in Colombia belong to the Pacifist Route and without doubt

one of their greatest achievements has been sensitizing society on realities that were

commonly ignored. These women mobilize pacifically and originally; they usually want

to ridicule war by using tactics such as dressing in vivid colors -to challenge the vision of

war as a black and white subject-, they make soap bubbles to imitate war bombs and

they have confronted illegal armed groups with pacific chants when they have been

stopped before starting their protests in areas hard hit by the conflict.

A clear understanding and promotion of women’s rights accompanied by

initiatives to vindicate them is key to conflict and post-conflicts situations. Without those

elements it is difficult to create sustainable peace.

UN Peacekeeping, DDR & Children

By: Marko Stanic

In many ways, the role of the United Nations Peacekeeping efforts has become synonymous with the efforts of DDR. In many ways, the two can appear mutually exclusive – how can a nation have an effective transition from conflict to peace without the DDR programme and broader peacekeeping efforts?

The final paragraph (119) of the Role of United Nations Peacekeeping in Disarmament, Demobiliation and Reintegration, a report of the Secretary-General to the Security Council, seems to encapsulate the above statement firmly; “…the role of a peacekeeping operation in post-conflict disarmament, demobilization and reintegration is rooted in and feeds into a broader search for peace and development”. Consistent with what makes the DDR successful in peacekeeping operations, the SG acknowledges that one of the most important prerequisites for a successful DDR programmes is the presence of political will, support of civil society, and the assistance of the international community in the host nation.

In the early days of DDR, there has been a distinct lack of children, and child soldiers in the scope and caseload of DDR operations. This lack is most evident in Gen. 1. Since the turn of the millennium however, under the guise of Gen. 2 and 3, the caseloads have been expanded to include the youth. It does not take a lot to recognize that special attention needs to be paid to the DDR processes involving child soldiers. As defined by the United Nations, child soldiers are any persons under the age of 18 who take part in armed force in any capacity – this includes participation in direct combat, and any other non-combat roles, including accompanying groups as well as “girls recruited for sexual purposes and forced marriage.” (United Nations S/2000/101).

Reintegrating former (adult) ex-combatants into the society is a challenging process in itself, and it becomes especially challenging when children are involved. While children and adults may both share the same experience in armed conflict, children will in all likelihood respond differently to these stresses and traumas than adults. The exposure to risk from combat, and any other risks inherent in armed forces have the propensity to disrupt the physical, social, and emotional up-bringing of children. If professionally trained soldiers experience psychological consequences of combat such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), then what will these experiences have on children, and how might the DDR programmes help with this?

As the report by the Secretary-General suggests, “non-discrimination, gender equity, non-institutionalization and non-stigmatization of the children, and early family reunification” are all critically important in preparing DDR programmes that will include children as the targets of DDR. Furthermore, it is imperative to include all the children, including children not in armed forced but those growing up in the conflicted areas as well. It is important for the programmes to be inclusive as choosing to focus on one group over the other is not conducive of long-term peace and development.

While providing educational services does not fall under the operations and programmes of DDR, some fort of education is essential to the children entering the demobilization efforts. Much like male ex-combatants receive support packages and vocational training via reinsertion, so too should children receive education that would have been afforded in the absence of conflict. This will be vital for long-term reintegration. If children re-entering civilian status are expected to contribute to their communities in long-term (in adulthood), then the availability of schooling will directly affect how well they will reintegrate.

Strong Contribution of The “Weaker Sex” in DDR

By: Senani Dehigolla

The role of women in war and peace while being subjected to heated debates around the world also emphasises the significance that needs to be attributed to them as an integral part of Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration. Being a major target of combatants women are undoubtedly the most affected during conflict or in circumstances of war owing to their physical vulnerability. Paradoxically, some instances of modern day war fare prove that the integration of women in to military either as combatants or as strategic approaches triggers the need of reconceptualising the requirement of the so called “weaker sex” in DDR. When Yazidi women’s armed struggle against ISIS takes the centre stage, going back in the historical time line it is possible to trace the active participation of extraordinary women such as Joan of Arc, Rani Lakshmi Bhai of Jansi against British India, the French women against the Nazis etc. who were in the limelight for their capacity for military prowess to engage in struggles for national liberation or struggles for their own safety.

Women’s participation is a key ingredient in achieving DDR goals as well as for sustainable societal balance in correcting the damage done to the social fabric of a country. Under the Security Council resolution 1325, measuring the advancement of women in all aspects of peace-building is crucial to DDR and other post conflict reconstruction activities. The caseload of Congo is a classic example where the role of women is instrumental in rebuilding the nation while serving as a real challenge. The degree of violation of women’s human rights is immense and ranges from physical abuse such as sexual harassment to contracting deadly diseases like HIV/ AIDS as a result where rebuilding their lives in a later achieved peace is also perplexing. The deep rooted family traditions and male dominated society hinders the possibility of addressing the special needs of women which prevents them from actively participating in DDR and other crisis prevention interventions. Therefore, moving the social lens from men towards women requires much effort on the ground.

UNDP’s survey in Congo to identify conflict affected women could be noteworthy as it has detected the subtle ways in which the issues can be solved. As an instance, the solidarity fund for agriculture to empower women was remarkable in combating unemployment due to lower skill level. The studies have shown that the women led families which are a result of losing their spouses in war were proven extremely weak in economic stability underlining that that women empowerment is decisive to DDR. Promotion of women’s rights by working to reconcile traditional values with progressive ideas will lead to improving the participation of women in society. Their vigorous involvement in early economic reconstruction activities also has the capacity to fight the social and economic marginalization of women. Local institutions and donors for Congo have experienced the creditable progress and the visibility of UNDP intervention. Increased economic and social opportunities while carefully considering local interpretations paves the way for a better future for women in confronting  social obstacles and fighting their own battles of a disturbed past. Their contribution to DDR matters in major and minor levels deciding its rate of success.

Women’s Role in DDR

By: Julia Rachiele

Women’s role in society is significantly overlooked in many aspects of life, and up until recently this included DDR processes.  DDR is a process that is to be integrated into society to be successful, specifically reintegration measures, to achieve this one can not undermine the power of women. Even if not playing an active role in combat, the capacity of women to influence conflict and post-conflict situations is an asset if utilized properly.  Women facilitate the functioning of roles and social systems in society, and it is only appropriate that this also applies to the success of DDR initiatives.

It is well known that women hold together the social structure of society including family bonds, social interaction, and community values.  This makes women an invaluable resource in upholding the goals of DDR.  Having acknowledged these two main points, they must be taken into consideration.  The need for DDR resources including psycho-social programs and economic programs specifically designed for women, and the ability to integrate women into overall DDR programming.  

Non combatant female roles and female dependents during conflict experience comparable trauma to men, however the manifestations and therefore the ways of coping differ greatly.  Female specific programs are a necessity in assisting women in overcoming the traumas of war even if they played passive roles.  Women who play passive support roles such as cooking, cleaning, and organizational roles are just as involved in conflict as men.  Similarly women and female child dependents of male combatants suffer hardships as well in living the life of being part of a combatant’s nuclear family.  As a result female specific mental health and medical attention need to be made gender specific through the utilization of specially trained counselors and doctors.

Women’s role in DDR goes farther than purely providing services to women.  DDR also includes integrating women in the DDR programs themselves, specifically, in community aspects.  As women are the protectors of social circles and have the responsibility of upholding families, they are valuable in upholding the goals of DDR as well.  Whether it is with women forming their own collectives in jumpstarting local economies, or being a fundamental stakeholder in protecting DDR successes, women are vital.  This is because women are able to enforce rules of DDR programs through mitigating the power that men hold.  They are able to structure society in such a way that women are able to stand in solidarity against what might be the desires of men to disrupt DDR successes.  While also ensuring that children and dependents are unable to sustain mentalities that may bring about new conflicts.

To underestimate the roles women play in society is not advisable in DDR planning.  Women are a vital and underacknowldged resource in post conflict society building.  Integrating women in DDR programs is a way to safeguard society in continuing successful reintegration processes and prevent a fall back into conflict.

Bangsamoro and DDR: Is it really going through DDR?

Submitted by: Llaura Garcia

One of the agreements in recent years that came about was the 2012 Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro. The Bangsamoro, formerly known as the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), was an insurgency group in Mindanao, Philippines (the southern part of the country). The engaged in terrorist activities with the goal of being independent from the Philippines. They wanted independence until 2011 when they decided to go for a substate status instead. While the idea of peace agreement is ideal, I do wonder if the entire process of DDR will be followed through or if it’s necessary. The agreement is essentially a ceasefire agreement but I don’t see them completely disarming, demobilizing, or reintegrating. The agreement does have elements of DDR but not to the same extent as other DDR operations.

The Bangsmoro agreement was about the Bangsmoro having a way to govern themselves. Essentially, the agreement has a similar relationship to the central government that the US states has with the federal government. What I find fascinating about this agreement is that it is about the expansion of the powers by Bangsamoro. For example, it is stated in section 3.6 that, “the customary rights and traditions of indigenous peoples shall be taken into consideration in the formation of the Bansmoro’s justice system.” The Bangsmoro, who were guilty of terrorist acts, will not only get to be a substate –but will have the opportunity to create their own laws, govern themselves, have the power to levy taxes, get grants from outside institutions or organizations, generating their own revenue, and could expand their territory should certain areas decide to be included in the agreement. While this agreement is certainly more preferable to war and other terrorist acts, (as an outside observer), it is difficult to see how the people would be willing to live with the result of the agreement and normalize the relationship with those involved.

According to the Bangsmoro agreement (Section 8), the parties involved will participate in normalizing the relationship of those involved to ensure human security, maintain human rights, the MILF themselves are in charge of their own “demobilization” while the functions of the AFP to police will be transferred to the Bangsmoro, disbandment of private armies, reduction and control of firearms, rehabilitate ex-combatants, considering the needs of the IDPs, and creating a transitional justice system to address grievances. While I find that peace will always be my choice to fighting, the peace agreement doesn’t seem to be the most peaceful agreement since the group are in charge of their own demobilization, they can generate their own revenue, and there’s very minimal talk about oversite to ensure that the process is moving forward. I like the idea of Filipinos not fighting against each other but it worries me that loopholes will be found and some of the generated revenue will go to the “demobilized” or disenfranchised men who sympathizes or has relations with terrorist organizations like Abu Sayyaf and Al Qaida.

VIOLENT EXTREMISM AND THE RE-SHAPING OF PEACE OPERATIONS: DDR, CVE AND THE NEED FOR NEW POLICY GUIDANCE.

United Nations (UN) peace efforts, and particularly peace operations, are often reviewed according their ability to adapt to ever changing contexts. The latter is reflected in two particular aspects: how should the UN engage in a particular peace mission or operations; how should the UN guide its transition processes during peace operations and missions. Both these questions are linked to the aspects of planning and the tools and frameworks the UN’s Security Council is taking into account when developing peace missions mandates.
Considering the above mentioned, currently Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) programming is facing the challenge of adapting to the context of combating and/or countering violent extremism. This is particularly challenging as DDR as a political strategy for post-conflict management is now being planned to start operating in contexts in which military operations are ongoing and the prospects for achieving peace remain unclear, signifying a complete change from traditional and second generation DDR approaches. In these sense, DDR is challenged by the question of whether it can help demobilize and disengage combatants. How DDR ought to be planned in such context, and how will this political strategy adapt for it to be able to still deliver to its objectives? Do DDR benchmarks also need to change?
I argue that DDR must consider the following in order to quickly adapt is role in peace operations and keep its effectiveness for contributing to conflict management: a) It needs to be both flexible in terms of adapting to local contexts but should not lack the consideration of reformed and updated peace frameworks; b) planning for DDR mandates by the Security Council must be done taking into account the current fragmented programming issues that the United Nations is facing; c) to ensure that the DDR strategy responds to local needs, as well as to reduce coordination and collaboration issues among implementing actors (UN actors, local governments, non-government organizations and communities) DDR planning should fundamentally be on-field focused and people-oriented.
Regarding how DDR will or should adapt to new contexts of violent extremism, I believe one key aspect is benchmarking. Benchmarking implies that DDR will be clearly planned, thus avoiding undertaking mandates that are loose in frameworks and policy guidance; benchmarking DDR would then respond to the particularities of the context and would help guide DDR when lacking a peace framework and pre-conditions.
Additionally, aspects related to sequencing and expansions of caseloads are two key elements to consider when trying to keep DDR as a strategy in contexts facing violent extremism. On the first hand, if DD is less possible, then focusing on reintegration of victims or vulnerable populations is one step to prevent mobilization or engagement as well as to advance on efforts regarding helping communities to develop absorption capabilities. This is just one particular example.
DDR is a relevant tool for peace, thus starting to think how to reach a third generation DDR and combine it with all the UN peace transformations to make it context-responsive is an urgent and current step.

Haiti and Changing DDR Dynamics

By Timothy Koch, graduate student of International Affairs at The New School.

The DDR operation that occurred in Haiti is a prime example of the ever changing dynamic of DDR and the need for DDR operators to be able to adapt to any situation that they are faced with.  Even though Haiti is seen as a failure in some eyes we must remember that through failure we can learn from our mistakes and become closer to success.

Haiti showed us the need for DDR operators to be able to work with all different types of conflict offenders.  The gangs in Haiti were one of the primary causes of conflict, and unlike DDR operations before in Haiti there were no uniforms and rigid power structures.  Operators were no longer dealing with seasoned veteran military commanders potentially from prior liberation struggles, but were now dealing with gun and drug running hoods that in many cases lacked the respect for DDR and its goals.  These gangsters saw no reason to discontinue their operations as they were making too much money and did not think their lifestyle was flawed.  There weren’t many incentives that DDR operators could offer them in an attempt to persuade them to give up their ways.  They were living the highlife compared to many others in Haiti and the operators had to meet this challenge.  It was no longer a military member making a basic wage, in this situation it was now gangsters potentially making hundreds of thousands of dollars by being a drug transport hub to the city of Miami and Dade County.

The example of Haiti also showed us how DDR operators must prepare for non-conventional power structures within a country.  Prior operators would be dealing with major political factions and rebel groups along with semi established governmental entities and in Haiti this was not the case.  The gangs replaced the rebel groups and political factions; however in Haiti the ruling elite held a massive control on power relations within the country.  Just like the gangs these selfish power elite profited from the lack of governmental control within the country and were extremely resistant to DDR operations.  Incentives could not be offered to these people as they had everything they wanted.  They were living at the expense of normal Haitian citizens and wanted to continue to do so.  This power dynamic made it very difficult for DDR operators to do their job.

These changing dynamics that characterize the Haiti DDR project perfectly exemplify the need for DDR operators to be able to keep an open mindset and not be rigid in their ways of thinking.  Also it shows the need for them to be able to adapt to different power relations and conflict structures.  DDR operators cannot be traditional people who are stuck in their ways of thinking and this is becoming ever more relevant in the world of today.    DDR operators must constantly be innovating their prior failures because as we know failure can breed success.

Women and War – Julia Rachiele

The role of women in war has existed long before discourse on the topic came into being.  This blog post will focus on the similarities of female combatants reintegrating during the  DDR process, and female United States veterans reintegrating back into civilian life after discharge. Having spent four years researching the topic of female veterans and how the lack of gender specific services causes higher homelessness rates, it was interesting to learn about the struggles of reintegrating female combatants.  There are many issues that arise in providing services to women who are actively and formerly involved in combat.  Consideration needs to be taken, not only in the immediate needs of female fighters, but also the psychological.

Women’s wartime experiences differ from that of men.  While women might be actively involved in combat, more goes into the female fighter narrative.  Women tend to also play major supportive roles to male fighters.  This hold true for US female military as they were not officially able to participate in combat until recently.  However, unofficial combat roles did exist.  Support roles during war have shown, in some instances, to be more psychologically damaging than combat experiences.  Support roles can range from cooking, organization, and administrative work to clean up after combat (removing bodies).  These roles are overlooked and underestimated in their importance and psychological tole.  Women also have to deal with the added burden of sexual harassment.  Sexual harassment includes verbal comments, gestures, unwanted physical contact, and rape.  Even if avenues existed to report sexual harassment, it has been shown that the stigma behind wartime sexual harassment prevents women from doing so.  All of these additional challenges during wartime cause women to have a more difficult time reintegrating back into society afterwards.

The difference in psychological needs of women coupled with the unique experiences of war, make it more difficult for women to reintegrate successfully.  Women generally have significantly different psychological requirements than men, meaning that female centered services need to be provided if one wants to see successful reintegration.  More female centered and female run psychological services need to be employed to address this need.  This becomes even more important when women are facing PTSD and sexual assault trauma.  Men and women cope differently, so the male centered services offered through DDR and Veterans Affairs are not adequate.  Another important aspect not widely considered for female fighters is their responsibility as a parental caregiver, and experiences of their home lives.  It has been noted that women go into conflict as a way of escaping non-ideal home lives, so when the women return there is a lack of stability leading to more issues.  This is exacerbated when the women are the primary caregiver to children.  Women are then not only responsible for themselves but also their children’s lives.  The additional pressure of children makes it more difficult psychologically and puts women under more stress.  Women fighters need to be consulted when crafting reintegration services to ensure they are what is needed.

Designing services for female fighters is something that has not been perfected even in developed countries such as the United States.  Female veterans are 3 times more likely to be homeless than their female civilian counterparts.  This mean that DDR programs for female combatants needs to be done in a way that truly meets the needs of the population.  Using techniques available to men or even models that have worked for women in other countries will not suffice.  Female fighter reintegration is a context driven initiative and needs to be treated as so.

Haiti and Changing DDR Dynamics

By Timothy Koch, graduate student of International Affairs at The New School.

The DDR operation that occurred in Haiti is a prime example of the ever changing dynamic of DDR and the need for DDR operators to be able to adapt to any situation that they are faced with.  Even though Haiti is seen as a failure in some eyes we must remember that through failure we can learn from our mistakes and become closer to success.

Haiti showed us the need for DDR operators to be able to work with all different types of conflict offenders.  The gangs in Haiti were one of the primary causes of conflict, and unlike DDR operations before in Haiti there were no uniforms and rigid power structures.  Operators were no longer dealing with seasoned veteran military commanders potentially from prior liberation struggles, but were now dealing with gun and drug running hoods that in many cases lacked the respect for DDR and its goals.  These gangsters saw no reason to discontinue their operations as they were making too much money and did not think their lifestyle was flawed.  There weren’t many incentives that DDR operators could offer them in an attempt to persuade them to give up their ways.  They were living the highlife compared to many others in Haiti and the operators had to meet this challenge.  It was no longer a military member making a basic wage, in this situation it was now gangsters potentially making hundreds of thousands of dollars by being a drug transport hub to the city of Miami and Dade County.

The example of Haiti also showed us how DDR operators must prepare for non-conventional power structures within a country.  Prior operators would be dealing with major political factions and rebel groups along with semi established governmental entities and in Haiti this was not the case.  The gangs replaced the rebel groups and political factions; however in Haiti the ruling elite held a massive control on power relations within the country.  Just like the gangs these selfish power elite profited from the lack of governmental control within the country and were extremely resistant to DDR operations.  Incentives could not be offered to these people as they had everything they wanted.  They were living at the expense of normal Haitian citizens and wanted to continue to do so.  This power dynamic made it very difficult for DDR operators to do their job.

These changing dynamics that characterize the Haiti DDR project perfectly exemplify the need for DDR operators to be able to keep an open mindset and not be rigid in their ways of thinking.  Also it shows the need for them to be able to adapt to different power relations and conflict structures.  DDR operators cannot be traditional people who are stuck in their ways of thinking and this is becoming ever more relevant in the world of today.    DDR operators must constantly be innovating their prior failures because as we know failure can breed success.