Using the Central African Republic (CAR) as a case study, it is possible to see the limitations inherent in second generation DDR. After more than fifty years of unrest and instability, CAR is a state where militias, terrorists, road bandits, and neighborhood self-defense groups have more control than the central government in most areas. Despite peace treaties (starting in 2008) over the last decade, the violence has yet to abate and has transformed from political militias to radical, possibly genocidal terrorists. Despite implementation of DDR during the period after the peace treaties, by 2013 there were international worries of genocide against the Muslim minority, committed by the Anti-Balaka group.
The failure of DDR in the CAR over the past decade has many reasons, not least of which is the implementation of reintegration is essentially impossible in a state like CAR, which for all intents and purposes is a failed state. As stated in the 2010 Country Profile on CAR, “The legacy of these years of unrest left the Central African Republic to be one of the least-developed countries in the world. Between 1994 and 2004 the human development index declined by approximately 8 percent.” (1) War is never good for development, but when a state has known nothing but unrest in decades, it is neither efficient nor ethically responsible to reintegrate ex-combatants into a broken society and life of poverty.
Yet making a functioning economy a precondition for DDR implementation is unrealistic too. While the lack of development in the CAR is at least partially responsible for the failure of DDR it cannot be entirely blamed for the lack of peace in the region currently. The country profile goes on to explain how, “outstanding political issues, amongst others, include unresolved political promises in the Libreville Peace Agreement to DDR beneficiaries and the presence of armed groups, which are not party to the peace agreement.” (1) This shows the difficulty of the situation at hand – with no DDR, the peace agreements would certainly have failed, but without a comprehensive, sustainable peace agreement encompassing all of the militants and a strong reintegration strategy, there’s a good chance any DDR will fail.
In addition, an unspecified organization’s talking points for the EU regarding the CAR provide an unfiltered glimpse of how the DDR unfolded in the late aughts. “UN support to the DDR process based upon the Libreville Agreement began in April 2009 with 2 conditions set for UN engagement: 1) adherence to the IDDRS, and; 2) an accountable and transparent fiduciary mechanism. Neither was achieved.” The talking points go on to conclude that preconditions for DDR did not exist as there was little to no national ownership of the project, little reintegration funding available, and a true peace had not yet been secured. The talking points are from a meeting that took place in 2013, after the effects of the DDR crystalized, but problems were apparent even in a community recovery document written to plan for the years 2012-2016. The document says, “It is expected that not addressing some imminent reintegration needs of both ex-combatants and host communities and delivering on immediate peace dividend results, that ex-combatants may pick up arms again.” This prediction was prescient, and goes to show that problems with DDR are not a result of lack of understanding of the issues on the ground. Everyone understands that a reintegration is what makes DDR “stick” in second-generation conflict areas, but reintegration requires such a broad array of services and bureaucracies working together as to be nearly impossible.
That being said, the implementation of DDR in the CAR was flawed from the start. The lack of preconditions for DDR in combination with a lackluster reintegration strategy, and extremely low human development means those working to implement DDR in the CAR never stood much of a chance.