Second Generation DDR in Sudan: A failed attempt?

The hesitant implementation of what seemed to be a rather thorough, well designed DDR strategy in Sudan reflects some of the core challenges that several 2nd generation DDR programs have in common. Although the two main parties to the conflict, namely the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A), initially agreed on the establishment of a DDR program upon the signing of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, skepticism remained. For good reason, though, as the country lay in shambles – morally and economically – after a 20-year civil that resulted in 2 million deaths, 4.5 million displaced persons as well as a terrifying increase in gender-based and sexual violence and abductions of girls and women in particular.

The key objective was to build an “incremental, integrated and manageable DDR programming process” (Interim DDR Program for Sudan. United Nations. July 2005) while at the same time enabling institutional capacities to grow in order to guarantee national ownership of the DDR process and the subsequent security sector reform (SSR). The 2nd generation DDR approach constitutes a shift away from military structures towards the community as a whole and is particularly concerned with bridging the gap between the demobilization and reintegration phase. It therefore calls for immediate post-conflict stabilization measures, such as emergency employment programs, and targets specific groups, including militias, commanders and senior officers, female combatants and women associated with armed groups (WAAG), at-risk youth and gangs.

The initial DDR plan for Sudan follows most of the principles suggested in the IDDRS.  Under its guiding principles it lists “national ownership” with the aim to include all stakeholders. It promotes a community-driven approach since communities are the main beneficiaries of improved security and calls for gender-sensitive and inclusive strategies. It further emphasizes the “Do No Harm” principle, highlights the need to build and strengthen capacities at all levels and aims at greater flexibility in order to quickly adapt to changing field conditions. Most importantly, it targets different groups, including child combatants, women combatants, women associated with armed groups, disabled veteran combatants, and issues such as HIV/AIDS and the proliferation of SALWs.

However, the implementation of Sudan’s ambitious DDR program came to a slow start. Some voices even claim that it failed altogether due to a lack of commitment of political key actors to down-size the military and push for SSR as well as coordination issues between the newly established DDR institutions, the parties to the conflict, and UNMIS. Some of the common challenges that 2nd generation DDR programs face ring definitely true in the case of Sudan, i.e. the aforementioned lack of political will, inadequate links between DDR and SSR (namely questions of how to include irregular armed groups, militias and gangs into the peace process while weapons still circulate), economic insecurity, and failing integration and coordination mechanisms between different entities. In the case of Sudan, the various armed groups that are not included in the peace agreement act indeed as spoilers due to low incentives to disarm.

In order to move forward, the Government of Sudan has to ensure that all former armed rebel groups are involved in the DDR process, stressing the “national ownership” aspect of DDR. A “weapons-linked-to-development” approach can increase cohesion among communities and their willingness to welcome back former combatants. Choosing the right reinsertion measures is crucial to the success of any DDR program. In Sudan the traditional safety net consists of cash grant and material goods, such as food vouchers and non-food items. However, the package as it is provides too little incentive to demobilize. Logistical problems in regards to the transportation of goods have also arisen and the heavily subsidized food packages leave local farmers uncompetitive. Hence, most importantly, any DDR strategy must be tied to the overall economic policies advancing employment opportunities for ex-combatants in order for them to create a livelihood. This can include measures such as start-up grants, microloans, and vocational training.

Ultimately, the role of women in armed conflict and their potential to act as spoilers if not included in DDR processes needs to be highlighted. The role of female combatants has long been overlooked since many women fighters are not officially recruited and enter through more informal channels. A sound policy therefore is to separate disarmament from access to demobilization and to particularly include WAAFG, which the Sudan DDR mission tries nicely, in the process. Gender-sensitive measures, such as employing female staff in reinsertion camps and providing training on gender sensitivity and issues of gender-based and sexual violence for DDR personnel, are mandatory.

By Nadine Lainer

3 thoughts on “Second Generation DDR in Sudan: A failed attempt?

  1. As we see in the IDDRP report on Sudan, despite Sudan being rich in natural and human resources, it is also rich in agricultural and mineral resources. The unfortunate part is the fact that Sudan still lacks economically and socially. The conflict and security is to be blamed. Inequality is also one of the main reasons of conflict. The main crux of the problem however remains the regimes claiming too much power rather than share equally amongst ethnic groups and other leaders and still remains a huge dilemma.

    As the IDDRP report states, there are various amount of challenges that come with the DDR process. They are, the presence of other armed groups, identification of effective and sustainable reintegration opportunities, the absorptive capacities of communities, ensuring a gender inclusive process, arms reduction and control, management of expectations regarding DDR, demobilization of children and finally substantive SST activities begin after a lengthy amount of time (IDDRP pg. 17). So as one can see here, there are not only a lot of challenges but also will take time and patience.

    The guiding principles are crucial for the success of the DDR in Sudan. They are, national ownership, a community driven approach, a gender inclusive approach, balancing equity and human security, support to special groups and capacity building (IDDRP pg. 18).

    As we learned from the Stockholm report, there are some crucial points that it made and the recommendations needed. The government of South Sudan needs to initiate and lead the DDR process. Without the help of the government, this DDR process will not be possible. What is also very important in order for the DDR process to work out is the active role of the SPLA and preparing for the combatants for the DDR. The reinsertion package could do with more money. There also has to be more innovative approaches to reintegration for the SPLA.

    As we saw in the same report, there were some successes, some failures and some issues that needed more research, which is expected. The DREAM database system, technical committees, the establishment of the SSDDRC, the establishment of the SSDDRC, the commencement of the demobilization processes, identification and contracting, social reintegration support activities, and the network of counselors were all considered successes with the DDR program in place. (Stockholm pg. 72).

    On the other hand, the main problem that was encountered was the lack of communication and cohesion of the DDR. The flaws of the GoSS were also exposed. The biggest one in my view was the failure to use the civil society as a stepping-stone for the support of reintegration. This is obviously one of the more difficult steps to overcome but at the same time is one of the most important steps in order for the success of DDR.

    From these reports, we can see that there are still significant problems in play. One of the major problems that I felt was the lack of cohesion between the GoSS and the former armed rebel groups. If a DDR process is not taking place for the armed rebels, there can be risks of future wars and in the case of South Sudan now; we could possibly blame the civil war currently on the lack of a DDR program and a lack of seriousness of threats by the GoSS. What is also important is the need for the former armed rebel groups to be able to be a part of society. If there is a lack of acceptance from the community to the former rebels, then they can again get back in to fighting again which will not solve any problems. Last but not least, opportunities need to be presented to the former rebels. If they do not have the necessary skills in training for a job, they could end up jobless and again, we have the same issue, the lack of opportunities crippling these rebels. Overall, since the GoSS has to take a leadership role, they have to implement policies that favor all citizens and not just rebels and not just look after their own regimes.

    By: Ahnaf Ahmed

  2. Central African Republic – Roadblocks to Successful DDR

    Despite the optimism that surrounded the 2008 Libreville Agreement in CAR, UN engagement in the country between 2009-2011 largely failed to create sustainable disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration. As a result, violence and government instability has persisted, particularly in the north of the country. In 2013, the Séléka rebellion reached Bangui and overthrew President Bozizé. In the following years, conflict between the Séléka and Anti-Balaka resulted in further destabilization of CAR and a rise in the number of IDPs and refugees fleeing to neighboring countries like Chad and Mozambique.
    Successful DDR and peacekeeping in CAR has been made difficult by the number of armed groups operating in the country. These groups include foreign armed groups such as the LRA operating within CAR territory. Furthermore, the government in Bangui lacks authority across large parts of the country and remains unable to provide many essential services or even security for its citizens. This lack of security has led to a proliferation of armed militias across the country as well as a concerningly high number of illegal weapons that, in many cases, are the only means communities have to protect themselves, making sustainable disarmament difficult. The state of development in CAR also remains incredibly low, poverty is widespread, and financial and material resources are lacking.
    For these reasons, among others, DDR (at least following the existing paradigm) is infeasible. The preconditions for successful DDR were not in place at the time of UN engagement in 2009, and the situation has not improved since then. The conflict lacks a sustainable peace agreement and even if such an agreement were to exist, the situation across much of CAR would make the risk of “spoilers” an issue. A lasting peace agreement would be contingent on successful development, community engagement, civil society engagement, de-centralization of government, etc. As DDR policies outlined in the IDDRS are most applicable in a post-conflict situation, a successful peacekeeping agreement is a necessary precondition. It is also necessary to keep in mind the regional context, and address the continuing instability caused by foreign armed groups and other regional conflicts that “spill over” into CAR.
    Good governance should be a central component of any development program at both the local and national level. At the moment the fact that the government in Bangui is unable to extend its authority to large portions of the country makes the potential for successful DDR highly unlikely. Faith in the government also needs to be improved so the population will not turned to armed groups for security or services. Building trust towards the government can take a considerable amount of time.
    Finally, the incentives provided by reintegration need to clearly outweigh the incentives to rearm and remobilize. Like many conflict-ridden societies, instability has become normalized in CAR going back to its independence from France over forty years ago. When the years of instability and violence largely overshadow the years of democracy, peacekeeping and DDR face not only significant operational and logistical challenges, but the challenge of changing norms and the structural causes of ongoing violence.

    Colby Silver

  3. The Second generation was a good DDR approach and most likely the best way forward to bring some stabilization to a fragmented country with three major focus of conflict, each of them originated different peace agreements and consequently the development of three DDR and SSR processes. The agreements were the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in Sudan and the Southern Sudan region; the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) in Darfur; and finally the Eastern Sudan Peace Agreement (ESPA)in eastern Sudan. Of the three DDR processes, ESPA might be considered the most successful one to date.

    These agreements and their respective DDR/SSR processes have common elements, but also different key stakeholders, different cultures, different regional influences, and different, I would say financial resources. The political-military and socio-cultural-economic fabric and dynamics is distinct in the three contexts.

    One common aspect in the three processes is that the community-driven approaches seem to be successful in helping to create an enabling environment for peace and stability. The same community approach applies to the small arms and light weapons (SALW) and conflict management programmes.

    In all three DDR situations, it is also important to acknowledge that women played a pivotal role in the peace process, stabilization, and conflict management, and they were a key support to security and reintegration in the communities. For example, in eastern Sudan, when women directly participated in the DDR reintegration activities, they were perceived by ex-combatants and communities as potentially more successful in the reintegration component because they were considered more resourceful.

    However, focusing on Sudan and the CPA (here I am referring to Sudan before the referendum which took place in southern Sudan in January 2011 to decide whether the region should remain as part of Sudan or become independent), the second generation might not have been a failed attempt.

    A referendum was integrated in the CPA that was signed in 2005 between the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement /Army(SPLM/A) and the Government of Sudan. The CPA was meant to: 1) end the (second) Sudanese civil war which was mainly concentrated in what is still today called the “three areas” (Abyei, South Kordofan/Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile); 2) develop democratic governance throughout the country; and 3) share oil revenues.

    While the CPA was a positive step for the cessation of the hostilities between SPLM/A and the Government of Sudan, the fact that a referendum was already envisaged to decide whether Sudan should remain one country or be separated seemed to be an early indication that the DDR and SSR processes, and even national unity and political will could be at stake. This may explain why none of the armies had genuine good will or concrete intentions to downsize their forces. The only way to proceed with the Sudan and Southern Sudan DDR was through an interim DDR programme. This programme targeted special needs groups (SNGs) such as CAAFG, WAAFG, disabled and elderly, and enhanced security in the communities through SALW and community security and arms control (CSAC) programmes to create an enabling environment for peace even though both CPA signatories would keep their active forces.

    DDR activities initiated only in 2009 and it took some time for the programme to gain momentum. It might be the case that, initially DDR had to focus on SNGs and security community programmes due to the need to find a compromise for the cessation of hostilities and to address key issues such as the delimitation of the three areas located along Sudan’s North-South border (that gave origin to the CPA). Due to their strategic location and the existence of natural resources such as oil and water, the three areas always had a special status in the CPA, for which unfortunately, no sustainable solution has yet been found.

    With the referendum in January and the South’s secession in 2011, both the peace agreement and the DDR process as framed in the CPA ended. The failure of DDR in Sudan seems not to be due to the signature of all former armed rebel groups as applicable in Darfur, or due to the failure of the second generation approach. Instead, the failure may be related to the fact that the CPA negotiations encompassed the possibility for a regional separation and this may have put at stake from the beginning the principle of “one nation” and the trust between parties. This may have been the price to pay to ensure that both parties would reach a political compromise to cease hostilities and simultaneously gain time to reach an agreement between both Sudan-South Sudan regions on the three areas and allow the referendum to take place in a peaceful manner.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *