Exploring the DDR and SSR Nexus in State Building

In order to promote post-conflict peace through disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) in war afflicted countries, there has to be security. Primarily, affected countries have to guarantee minimum assurances of security in order for a Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), the very premise of which DDR efforts are built off of, to be upheld – let alone enforced. Understanding the role of Security Sector Reform (SSR) in post-conflict settings therefore becomes just as important as the implementation of DDR itself, especially given the role of divergent political interests, institutional deficiencies and the resulting lawlessness that provokes insecurity in the first place. DDR and SSR are inherently political activities that greatly impact a nation’s sovereignty as well as its capacity not only in executing these approaches but to ultimately lead its people through improved governance. For this reason, a substantive understanding and evaluation of what is often termed ‘the DDR and SSR nexus’ is critical to not only guiding a country’s post-conflict recovery process but to also promoting its long-term national development.

To be clear, both DDR and SSR are necessary to obtaining lasting peace as a country looks to overcome its war induced atrocities and move towards its long-term national development. At the same time, the conceptual linkage between DDR and SSR has been more readily observed than the implementation of an actual coordinated approach to the two processes have been in practice DDR is committed to advancing peace and security in post-conflict environments through recovery initiatives such as addressing the individual wellbeing of ex-combatants and affected communities in a manner that arguably fosters a sense of nation building among a war-affected populace. SSR on the other hand is more so concerned with peace building by strengthening state institutions themselves as a way of further protecting said populations.

Notwithstanding this reality, the conceptual linkage between the two processes has been more apparent than an actual achievement of a coordinated approach to implementing the two in practice. This largely has to do with the fact that DDR has had a more substantive history with UN engagement while SSR is a more recent endeavor as a complementary component to, as well as extension of, DDR efforts that seeks to maintain lasting peace beyond the conflict incident itself. The UN has recently posited however that a failure to approach DDR and SSR in concert with one another can unintentionally serve to completely undermine overall security efforts.

As a result, I am interested in conducting a case study analysis of Liberia and Haiti in terms of their utility of both DDR and SSR. Liberia employed DDR and SSR under a democratically elected president who maintained popular support in Liberia’s post-war setting. This context is an interesting one within which to explore United Nations Mission in Liberia’s (UNMIL) endeavor to achieve stability and lasting peace.

Haiti is also of interest because the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti, known by its French acronym MINUSTAH, was initiated in 2004 without the necessary pre-DDR conditions that would typically be required for this approach. Additionally, MINUSTAH attempted to employ DDR alongside ongoing SSR efforts while Haiti was under a transitional government. The reality that the UN did not pursue Haiti in DDR after the first coup d’etat towards Aristide in 1991, most likely because the situation did not meet typical DDR requirements, provides an interesting backdrop for why DDR was the method of choice after his second coup d’etat. Evaluating the implications that this had on state building, given Haiti’s turbulent post-dictatorship political history, may speak to the political context necessary for an integrated DDR/SSR approach to be effective.

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