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.  

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.

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

By Georgina Vazquez

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.

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.

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.

Mali & DDR

By: Sam Trudeau

The ongoing situation in Mali seems to encompass many of the most pressing challenges facing DDR programs around the world. The United Nations peacekeeping force deployed to help stabilize the country is still basically operating in a conflict zone, despite attempts to enforce a Comprehensive Peace Agreement. State-building and peace-building operations like DDR are therefore undertaken in extremely volatile environments prone to sporadic surges of violence that threaten reversing initial DDR initiatives like setting up cantonment sites for former fighters and training and supervising mixed-patrols. Mali’s Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) involves three main although relatively fragmented groups: the Malian government, the pro-Tuareg separatist Coordination of Azawad Movement (CMA), and the pro-Government “Platform” which consist of Tuareg and Arab militias. Although radicalized actors such as Al Qaeda in the Islamic Magreb, various local Al Qaeda offshoots such as the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa, Ansar Al Dine as well as scores of foreign fighters were initially defeated and pushed out of Northern Mali by a French military operation, these armed actors have to some extent been able to regroup and resume operations. Criminal groups vying for smuggling routes have also participated in the violence. Favoring a military approach towards radical groups and excluding their combatants from DDR initiatives creates difficult dynamics on ground. Excluded from Mali’s CPA, they still retain the capability to act as spoilers to peace-building efforts. Besides the presence of radicalized fighters, the secessionist aspirations of the CMA and the central government’s apparent refusal to accept autonomous Tuareg governance in parts of the North have led to a political deadlock regarding the future of the CPA and efforts at reconciliation. The contested legitimacy of the political components of the peace plan seem to create real limitations to what DDR efforts might actually be able accomplish. From this perspective, the peace-building mandate enacted by the United Nations Security Council might to a certain extent be too ambitious given the realities on the ground and ultimately set DDR efforts up to fail. The United Nations Secretary General’s latest report on Mali already outlines some of the difficulties faced by DDR initiatives. Efforts to estimate the number of fighters on all sides eligible for demobilization into cantonment have been slowed down by a lack of cooperation as well as the large number of fighters. Although the number of belligerents designated for cantonment by all sides was initially expected to account for 6 000 combatants, the CMA has itself presented a list of more than 18 000 fighters. The pro-government Platform meanwhile had by the spring of 2016 still not provided its own list of fighters. Another important impediment to DDR efforts in Mali has been the state and international community’s inability to foster development in northern parts of the country. Economic disenfranchisement and a dire lack of basic services through Northern Mali is often identified in public opinion surveys as important driver of the conflict. The success DDR efforts, especially its longterm objectives, are therefore very much dependent on the state and international community’s ability to meet the needs of the populations in the North and create opportunities for sustainable development.

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.

Sources:

Brahimi, Lakdhar. “Report of the Panel on United Nations Peace Operations.” United Nations General Assembly and Security Council: August 21, 2000 https://cve-initiative.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/the-brahimi-report.pdf

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. http://www.stabilityjournal.org/articles/10.5334/sta.fs/

“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. http://www.un.org/en/peacekeeping/documents/2GDDR_ENG_WITH_COVER.pdf

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).

Family, Reintegration & DDR:

 

– by Ardra Manasi:  The New School

The measurement of DDR outcomes and the evaluation of its success often poses serious challenges. The complexity of the third generation DDR approaches, typified by measures in countering violent extremism (CVE), lies in its shift of engagement from state centric actors to non-state actors, that include often violent extremist (VE) groups like Taliban as in the context of Afghanistan. How does one measure the success of DDR in such a setting? The conventional measurement parameters like the number of weapons collected, the funds utilized and the number of ex-combatants demobilized might present a useful scenario. But can a non-conventional measurement parameter like monitoring the number of days that the individual militant spent with his/her family after demobilization be a useful measure to guide DDR practitioners? How far can family be helpful in understanding an individual’s integration into the community at large?

The Integrated IDDR Standards, the key operational guidelines for implementing DDR on the ground does not pay much attention to the role of family in its reintegration efforts. The disarmament and demobilization phase is followed by ex-combatants eventually returning to their homes, often equipped with socio-economic reinsertion packages. But it is useful to think about of how ‘home’/ ‘family’ becomes a site of both confrontation and adaptation. Is the combatant’s family receptive and welcoming? Or are they hostile and condescending? This gets even more worse for women ex-combatants returning home as they are perceived to have defied their gender roles by taking up arms (The case of women ex-combatants in Sri Lanka’s LTTE illustrate this).

Can an ex- combatant’s family play a role in ensuring that he doesn’t take up arms again? Conversely, what role may a family play in willfully getting an ex-combatnat to become a recidivist?  The family members can turn out to be either positive or negative influencers i.e they can either play a role in “radicalization” of fighters or can play a reformatory role. The latter revealing fact can be leveraged for reintegration efforts, especially for engaging with VE groups. For instance, the family members of such groups can receive special training in terms of taking care of the psychological needs of these ex-combatants and also for aiding in their de-radicalization efforts, supported by the UN or other community organizations. Drawing upon the case of Iraq, Doug Stone (2015), the brain behind the ‘Rome Memorandum’ (a compendium of best practices for rehabilitation and reintegration of violent extremist offenders) argues that for addressing radicalization issues among the violent extremists, the receiving community should be involved along with the militants, either one-on-one or in groups.

Ex-combatants often end up caught between their old extremist affiliations and the very society or community they sought to represent in their struggle. Usually, to the ex-combatant, the former extremist linkages have become unattractive and while the society they seek to integrate into has little need for them. Being caught in such a bind, this results in maladjustment and worse, an incentive to relapse into old ways of violence, criminal behavior, or extremism. This often results from a feeling of being unwanted in their old homes and an ongoing sense of drift. This is particularly true of non-ideological foot soldiers who, unlike ideological leaders, were conscripted into violent struggles to provide “muscle”.  It is here that the families become very important in terms of actively participating in the ex-combatant’s ‘normalization’ process.

Instead of a homogenous rehabilitation package devised for treating individual combatants as an undifferentiated mass, a more effective approach is one that is tiered in how it is administered, is continuously engaged over time, and multi-pronged as far as interventions are concerned.  To this end, this could include bringing families of those affected into community events together, to help them understand the pitfalls and potentialities ahead for themselves and the ex-combatants. This could also involve sensitizing the wives of men who have returned and helping them to cope with the returnee’s stress which may result in psycho-sexual anxieties as well.  On an economic front, if packages for families are tied to the ex-fighters’ continued cooperation and non-violence, there is a collective pressure at work that forces the fighter to aid his family on one end, while simultaneously, it allows the family to see the fighter as one among them.  Furthermore, the family members can be trusted sources for providing reliable information about the ex-combatants and their interactions once they are back home in terms of psychological profiles by a non-professional third party.

It is equally important to design DDR policies which address the psycho-social needs of such families who often face social stigma and alienation from the rest of the community. Developing policy guidelines in the IDDRS for family based integration as a component of ‘Reintegration’ can be a right step in this direction.

 

Living Conflict: The Current Challenge of DDR

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

Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration (DDR) in the modern age is facing a number of specific challenges that must be addressed in order to maximize safety and promote success rates.  One of the most important challenges that modern day DDR programs will face is their operation in areas where war and fighting is still occurring.  This new aspect presents a new and life threatening dynamic of modern DDR programs and will arguably be the most difficult challenge they face.

Previously, teams had operated in zones when a peace process was currently being implemented or had been implemented in the past; however this is no longer the case. DDR teams have never before operated under this magnitude of stress and danger, and in order to promote safety and success this challenge must be addressed head on. It is imperative that the teams gain specific and intrinsic knowledge of the conflict zone and general dynamic before and during the process.  These teams must familiarize themselves with the nature of the conflict, its actors, and the current dynamic of the conflict itself.  DDR teams have had these responsibilities before; however now it is important to remember that the conflict is not stagnant and can be perpetual and ever changing.  They must gain this knowledge and know that at any second the dynamic could shift and send their team and their own lives into a more dangerous situation.

The knowledge that is gained allows DDR teams to have more tools available to them in order to begin disarmament. They can offer incentives to turn in weapons and thus informally begin the peace process themselves. This will an easier route to a formal peace process and negotiations as once certain groups begin to disarm others may begin to follow suit making disarmament as whole more feasible.

The dynamic field of DDR is adapting to the challenges that are met on the ground and the teams must constantly remember that in order to ensure their safety and to promote success as much as they can. An environment with a lack of a formal peace process is a scary and daunting place and operators are right to think that strategies that had applied before could would not apply to their current situation.   Only one strategy can truly be prescribed to any and all DDR operations. It is the strategy of gaining knowledge beforehand and to continue to learn while on the ground.  Only then will safety be maximized and this is completely necessary in the world of DDR today.