Disarming, demobilizing and reintegration (DDR) of former fighters in the aftermath of conflict is as old as war itself, dating from the 3rd century BC and has featured in some form in virtually every conflict since. In fact, no fewer than 60 DDR initiatives have taken place globally since the UN and major bilateral engagement the late 1980s. While most were launched in the wake of international or civil wars as part of an internationally mandated peace support operation, shifting conflict dynamics and emergent caseloads over the last decade continue to alter the landscape in which DDR operations are implemented. Whether occurring in a humanitarian crisis, as an outcome of a peace accord or during active conflict, DDR represents a voluntary civilian led non-violent policy option for peacebuilding and human security for the international community.

Often applied in a post conflict environment, the global caseload in 2015 for peacekeeping contexts alone was estimated at approximately 400,000 DDR candidates with peacekeeping and nonpeacekeeping operations approximating more than 20 planned or ongoing DDR operations. Presently, DDR targets persons in combatant and non-combatant roles from statutory armies and non-state armed groups. It is not uncommon for DDR to serve as tool for security sector reform (SSR) and transformation efforts aimed at downsizing and legitimizing armed forces under civilian control. In doing so DDR is a unique policy tool that enhances the resilience of local, national and regional actors, by addressing various peace consolidation issues spanning the civilian and security sectors.

The course will utilize illustrative global case studies to examine 3 distinct and clearly identifiable ‘generations’ of DDR since the late 1980s. Tracking the evolution of DDR in contemporary peace operations, the course will demonstrate the critical role DDR continues to play in peacebuilding and recovery settings as diverse as the Balkans and Philippines where DDR is used to facilitate the ‘normalization of relations’, to the Sahel, the Horn of Africa, South America and the Middle East where DDR addresses mercenaries and terrorism. DDR’s role in stabilization efforts in the Ukraine, Afghanistan and the Sudan will be juxtaposed with political stability and development issues in Central America and Southern Africa where gang violence and veteran’s concerns are related to DDR outcomes.

The first generation of DDR occurred in the wake of the Cold War. Typified by verifiable caseloads under unified command and control, these occurred regionally in Latin America and Southern Africa. In the mid-2000s a 2nd Generation policy approach emerged in response to the perception by the international community that DDR, and reintegration specifically, was not achieving intended development aims. This led to a broad range of initiatives targeting communities as a means to facilitate enabling conditions for DDR. Presently, DDR is undergoing a 3rd shift. The monetization of DDR is creating a cottage industry for former fighters traveling across international borders rejoining armed groups as mercenaries. At the same time peace operations are receiving DDR mandates in areas where conflict is ongoing and insurgent groups slated for DDR are associated with ‘terrorist’ organizations complicating the legal and political environment. This is facilitating conditions for “Political Reintegration” to take renewed salience as armed groups increasingly transform into political parties.

Analytically, the course will examine the utility of DDR, its limitations and expectations as a panacea in post-conflict settings. Using the ‘3 Generations’ framework, each generation will be examined distinctly. In doing so, students will critically examine concepts and definitional issues enshrined in DDR and its global policy guidance. An interrogation of crosscutting issues, and detailed accounting of ‘reintegration’ with and without DDR will help students unpack, and reshape, the DDR ‘toolkit’.