By Senani Dehigolla of The New School
“UN peacekeeping operations are now increasingly complex and multi-dimensional, going beyond monitoring a ceasefire to actually bringing failed States back to life, often after decades of conflict. The blue helmets and their civilian colleagues work together to organize elections, enact police and judicial reform, promote and protect human rights, conduct mine-clearance, advance gender equality, achieve the voluntary disarmament of former combatants, and support the return of refugees and displaced people to their homes.” ~Kofi Annan
Increased number of conflicts around the world while making the world more insecure demands drastic and effective methods in countering insurgency and to transform nations into peaceful and liveable environments. Authoritarian regimes, religious extremism, barbaric violence, secular nationalism, refugee crisis etc. around the world emphasises the increasingly complex reality of DDR operations that requires dynamic models to operate. It is noteworthy that DDR practises around the world has progressed over last few decades encompassing many political, military, security, humanitarian and socio economic dimensions depending on the diverse nature of conflicts.
Second generation DDR in particular, could be tremendously valuable in moving beyond the military structures towards the entity of community which is severely hindered by armed violence. It is quite obvious that the community play a significant role in successful DDR as it becomes substantial ground for further violence or lasting peace. Therefore, moving beyond traditional DDR is crucial to successful Disarmament and Reintegration given the fragile post conflict contexts where everything that is humane is lost. Many states around the world which were ultimately reduced to ‘failed states’ through conflicts inherits weak public institutions particularly those pertaining to law and justice, constant struggle for power ,illicit drugs, HIV/ AIDS , economic insecurity, lack of political will and pervasive poverty making positive change through DDR an extremely challenging task. Thus, the evolution of DDR has progressed from a security tool towards a peace building tool in achieving development and improving livelihoods of the affected which in return intensifies its scope and responsibility.
With many dedicated and selfless contributions made every day to make DDR achieve its goals, it is also prone to heavy criticism ranging from failed DDR to outrageous behaviour of ‘blue helmets’. Considering the much debated case of Haiti, it is clear that unique methods need to be implemented to address the changing dynamics of conflicts arising from different contexts. Detached relations of New York and Geneva from the actual intensity of ground realities, financial issues, and poor identification of issues on the ground are some of the negative aspects pertaining to the case of Haiti. MINUSTAH (United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti) was widely criticised for its limited response to the root causes of the conflict where social and political aspects were largely ignored. Since 1991 a number of UN missions have intervened in Haiti and by 2004 the situation was much worse. However, with constant harassments from natural disasters Haiti was in the brink of destruction and admirably the UN support was still available to them. Thus, UNDP’s more innovative approach to DDR in restoring daily life help build the social fabric of these communities with individuals gaining employment, self-respect and creating space for change. Furthermore, to increase its positive impact, DDR programs require better training for the blue helmets, inter cultural dialogue and dedicating longer period of time in conflict affected areas. Long term stabilization also depends on optimistic government participation and increased national capacity to manage weapons and to curb violence.