Disbanding Illegal Armed Groups (DIAG) Program in Afghanistan: Flexibility of Peace Operations through Conflict Sensitive Designs.

By: GEORGINA VÁZQUEZ DE LOS REYES

The assumption that all peace interventions will in fact contribute to achieving peace is certainly obsolete and inaccurate. Peace operations have unintended consequences that might be harmful to the context in which they are taking place. As a result, a fundamental characteristic of peace mandates, should be continuous conflict assessments, as well as monitoring and evaluation of the mission performance.

Such characteristics implies that donors, implementing agencies and country-level partners should understand any peacekeeping operation as essentially flexible. This flexibility, in addition, does translate into the possible reconfiguration originating theories of change, as well as of goals, objectives, benchmarks and indicators. This process, might even result in the transformation of the defining goals of a mission, as some cases of Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) shows.

DDR proves no different when it comes to the need to be a flexible mandate and intervention, particularly if one of the guiding principles is “Do No Harm”. This means that it has the capacity to rephrase its most essential and defining components, such as disarmament and reintegration, and replace them by context adequate initiatives and programs, or even accept a different implementing architecture. This is the case of DDR in Afghanistan.

When in 2003, a DDR mandate, the Afghan New Beginning Program (ANBP), was established by mandate of the United Nations Security Council in coordination with Afghanistan’s transitional government, the usual objective of disarmament proved to be partially effective.

As the country was still experiencing overall insecurity, and the war economy was effectively providing livelihoods, the measure to disarm seemed limited to attend illegal armed groups emerging all over the country. Giving up the arms for the case of illegal armed also proved difficult as the trust towards the “disarming” authority, the government, was still not consolidated. The measure posted the challenge of extending the mission until reconciliation and trust was achieved, or choosing to transform the fundamental concept of disarming into one of disbanding and weapons management. This resulted in the creation of the Disbanding Illegal Armed Groups (DIAG) program which followed the original DDR program in 2004.

The DIAG focused on weapons management through the creation of data bases that could register and track small arms and light weapons (SALW) and positioned itself as a political guidance process as it tested a context-responsive and conflict sensitive program that was successful in such terms.

In the same manner, DDR in Afghanistan was transformed by the DIAG in its reintegration component in terms of responsibility to execute. As part of the follo-up to ANBP DDR, the ‘Disbanding’ a new architecture for implementation and funding was suggested to decentralize the reintegration component in order to prevent the concentration of resources among one particular group or region,

These to aspects illustrate the importance of thinking about DDR with updated approaches and Theories of Change, flexibility and conflict sensitivity. If transitioning is a big achievement within peace consolidation, thus the importance of transitioning from DDR mandates to other security-governance options and modalities may enhance DDR and the entire reintegration process.  

The Negative Consequence of Hyper-Political Integration in Bosnia & Herzegovina

By: Kaitlyn Lynes

Political reintegration is an integral component of a successful disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration program. Ex-combatants, associated peoples, and communities must participate in decision and policy-making processes at regional, national, and international levels in order to ensure local ownership. The ideal conclusion of a DDR program is when fair and free democratic elections occur, which should follow the occurrence of a political reintegration process. Ex-combatants often have legitimate grievances, which fuels the wars and conflicts they fight in. Providing political opportunities is often a productive way of compromising with illegally armed groups, ensuring remobilization and the continuation of violence will not occur. Therefore, it is crucial for communities to be involved and supportive so that political reintegration does not appear to be only a buyout or reward for “perceived” war criminals. The transfer of ownership of civic responsibilities to communities and new political parties also serves as a transformative and restorative process for all actors involved. Subsequently, political reintegration has become one of the few durable solution in conflicts where the illegally armed group can not be decisively beaten or allowed to create their own state.

Prior to the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina there was no established Bosnian government, as the war caused the disintegration of Yugoslavia. Political reintegration, therefore, faced a particularly unique challenge in Bosnia. Unlike most conflicts, there was no single rebel group looking to be given political opportunities in a previously established governance structure. Instead, the international community had to create a government that provided opportunities to the various groups within Bosnia, including the Muslim Bosniaks, Bosnian Serbs, and Bosnian Croats. This has led to a tripartite Presidency, directly elected, that consists of one Bosniak, one Serb, and one Croat at all times. Representatives can only claim one ethnic identity, and voters can only vote for one ethnic identity. Instead of creating an equal power-sharing government, the system has only served to institutionalize ethnic divisions from the war. Further segregating different ethnicities, politicians at the state level have little power over the entirety of the country. The defined territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina is separated between the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Republika Srpska, the self-autonomous district of Brcko, and ten self-governing cantons across the federation, all working at different levels of government. Superseding all of this, the internationally organized governance structure led by the United Nations still oversees much of the Bosnian state. While this highly structured and overlapping system of government was supposed to ensure equal access to political opportunity in the immediate post-war era for all ethnicities in Bosnia, it has instead allowed ethnic tensions and divisions to flourish while avoiding the reform it desperately needs.

 

Countering Violent Extremism

Sam Trudeau

Countering Violent Extremism

The radicalization of armed groups is one of the more pressing challenges facing third generation DDR. The shift in the character of conflicts since the early to mid-2000s has been marked by the growing presence of armed extremist groups operating in intra-state wars, a reality that has repeatedly challenged peacekeeping and peace building operations mandated by international bodies like the United Nations Security Council. Security Council members have usually sought to exclude radicalized groups from Comprehensive Peace Agreements (CPA) and participation in Council mandated DDR initiatives. Instead, these groups are usually dealt with through military means that aim to disrupt and degrade their capabilities in the hopes of ultimately ending their operations permanently. Yet armed extremist fighters have proven resilient and demonstrated a capacity to regroup after essentially waiting-out the military operations targeting them. The transnational nature of many of these groups and the porous borders in many conflict zones have facilitated these tactics.

 

Groups such as Al Shaabab in Somalia have been able to regroup and carry out operations in neighboring countries such as Kenya, Djibouti and Ethiopia. Mali-based groups such as Ansar al Dine and the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) have been able to do the same in Algeria, Mauritania, Niger and Senegal. These armed extremists have consequently been able to repeatedly act as spoilers to state and peace building initiatives in both countries after having weathered military pushes to defeat and dislodge them. This game of cat and mouse between local and international military missions targeting armed extremist groups seems to highlight the fact that combatants attached to armed ideological movements are at times driven by political grievances that cannot simply be disappeared through the use of force. In many cases, the cycle of violence seems likely to continue and further perpetuate violent extremism if a political space to express legitimate grievances is not created in a manner that engages the individuals that make up these groups. Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) initiatives have been identified as a tool that might help create an opening, at least in certain cases, to include individuals in these groups into the reintegration processes of DDR initiatives. The challenge seems to be identifying instances where military and counterterrorism operations can be coupled with DDR to defuse violent extremism and under what conditions creating a political space is appropriate.

 

In Somalia for instance, efforts have been made to engage with rank and file members of Al Shaabab who have disbanded from the group. In theory, allowing these individuals to participate in DDR reintegration processes with a CVE component focusing on de-radicalization, while at the same time affording them the opportunity to engage in a political process that2 addresses legitimate grievances, can be understood as promoting political agency to tackle radicalization.

In practice however, such initiatives have to be carefully calibrated to the political and social realities on the ground if they are expected to facilitate true social reintegration. In Mali, individuals and communities associated with radicalized groups were given the opportunity to disassociate themselves from Ansar al Dine and MUJAO and join the CPA under broad coalitions. Yet, this process was hampered by a lack of political will towards the CPA that left DDR processes stalled. These types of delays have proven detrimental DDR and led individuals and communities to return to radicalized armed groups. In this context, CVE might help prevent the slide back towards extremism, but ultimately the speed of implementation and political will of actors are crucial to a achieving long-lasting outcomes.

Sam Trudeau

 

Countering Violent Extremism

 

The radicalization of armed groups is one of the more pressing challenges facing third generation DDR. The shift in the character of conflicts since the early to mid-2000s has been marked by the growing presence of armed extremist groups operating in intra-state wars, a reality that has repeatedly challenged peacekeeping and peace building operations mandated by international bodies like the United Nations Security Council. Security Council members have usually sought to exclude radicalized groups from Comprehensive Peace Agreements (CPA) and participation in Council mandated DDR initiatives. Instead, these groups are usually dealt with through military means that aim to disrupt and degrade their capabilities in the hopes of ultimately ending their operations permanently. Yet armed extremist fighters have proven resilient and demonstrated a capacity to regroup after essentially waiting-out the military operations targeting them. The transnational nature of many of these groups and the porous borders in many conflict zones have facilitated these tactics.

 

Groups such as Al Shaabab in Somalia have been able to regroup and carry out operations in neighboring countries such as Kenya, Djibouti and Ethiopia. Mali-based groups such as Ansar al Dine and the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) have been able to do the same in Algeria, Mauritania, Niger and Senegal. These armed extremists have consequently been able to repeatedly act as spoilers to state and peace building initiatives in both countries after having weathered military pushes to defeat and dislodge them. This game of cat and mouse between local and international military missions targeting armed extremist groups seems to highlight the fact that combatants attached to armed ideological movements are at times driven by political grievances that cannot simply be disappeared through the use of force. In many cases, the cycle of violence seems likely to continue and further perpetuate violent extremism if a political space to express legitimate grievances is not created in a manner that engages the individuals that make up these groups. Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) initiatives have been identified as a tool that might help create an opening, at least in certain cases, to include individuals in these groups into the reintegration processes of DDR initiatives. The challenge seems to be identifying instances where military and counterterrorism operations can be coupled with DDR to defuse violent extremism and under what conditions creating a political space is appropriate.

 

In Somalia for instance, efforts have been made to engage with rank and file members of Al Shaabab who have disbanded from the group. In theory, allowing these individuals to participate in DDR reintegration processes with a CVE component focusing on de-radicalization, while at the same time affording them the opportunity to engage in a political process that2 addresses legitimate grievances, can be understood as promoting political agency to tackle radicalization.

In practice however, such initiatives have to be carefully calibrated to the political and social realities on the ground if they are expected to facilitate true social reintegration. In Mali, individuals and communities associated with radicalized groups were given the opportunity to disassociate themselves from Ansar al Dine and MUJAO and join the CPA under broad coalitions. Yet, this process was hampered by a lack of political will towards the CPA that left DDR processes stalled. These types of delays have proven detrimental DDR and led individuals and communities to return to radicalized armed groups. In this context, CVE might help prevent the slide back towards extremism, but ultimately the speed of implementation and political will of actors are crucial to a achieving long-lasting outcomes.

Lessons from Afghanistan:  Rethinking Reintegration & Disbandment

 

By Marko Stanic

Reintegration, as defined by The Role of United Nations Peacekeeping in Disarmament Demobilization and Reintegration (S/2000/101), a report of the Secretary-General is the process which enables former combatants and persons associated with them (women, children, families), to adapt and become productive members of their societies. This process includes economic and social adaptations by providing compensation packages, training, and job opportunities. As was pointed out by the SG, the process of Reintegration, while the last “step” in the DDR process, should not be followed with a silo approach – meaning that the Reintegration should not exclusively follow the process of Demobilization. All three phases of DDR ought to work in tandem with one another.

Keeping this definition of Reintegration in mind, political reintegration the “may be framed as conflict transformation tool. In this regard it aims to underpinning UN experiences at armed group and rebel groups…” (Political Reintegration & Armed Group Transformation). There are two primary objectives of political integration: 1. Inclusion of irregular armed forces to any agreed upon power sharing arrangements, and 2. Transforming the said group into productive, law abiding citizens. It would appear that, while the United Nations did hold these goals in mind, it fell short of achieving them in Afghanistan.

From 2002 through 2012, the UN efforts in Afghanistan included both positive and negative incentives aimed at the individuals within the armed groups. When addressing the armed groups however the UN seeks to either transform the groups transformation or disbandment. The disbandment of fighters in the Afghanistan did not succeed due to the assumption that a permanent break between the command and control, and individual fighters was possible. Conducting a Conflict-Development Analysis (CDA) in Afghanistan would have revealed the existence of very strong tribal ties. These ethnic identities often served as primary modes of identity, often trumping national Afghan identity.

The use of positive and negative incentives in Afghanistan aimed at achieving disbandment of armed groups themselves, rather than achieving group transformation. Of these incentives, the Commander Incentive Program (CIP) sought to break the command and control of the armed groups. The positive incentives for commanders in CIP included trips to haj as well as socio-economic packages. The CIP worked while the UN was able to provide resources – meaning that the permanent break in the patronage was attainable only with a constant supply of resources.

The failure of CIP to permanently disrupt the relationships between commanders and personnel, and lack of efforts to inspire positive social and political harmony within the armed groups prevented the groups’ transformation into legitimate political bodies. Undertaking robust analysis (such as CDA) may have averted these failures. Prior knowledge of armed groups would have shown evidence of political goals, and as such transforming an armed group into a political entity may have been successful. However, the fact remains that the initial objective of the UN was not the transformation of armed groups in Afghanistan, but rather disbandment through reintegration.

Should DDR only apply to societies in post conflict situations? 

Submitted by: Llaura Garcia

The Afghanistan Peace and Reintegration Program (APRP) is a reintegration program implemented in Afghanistan to help create and stabilize peace. The program is about building a better future by creating peace in the region and reintegrating ex-combatants into the community. The strategy of the APRP is available to all who are willing to join in rebuilding Afghanistan through peace and accepting the constitution. APRP is providing a better alternative to fighting. The program is about renouncing violence, transparency by those who govern, working together, training, addressing grievances, outreach, different reintegration packages, and overall –building a community. Overall, the framework of the program seems sound that it provides structure, balance, and vision for what the programs wants to accomplish for the Afghan people.

While I believe that this program will take a very long time for the process to be completed, APRP has a good vision and structure to move forward and eventually accomplish its goal. I believe that while the reintegration packages are different, the programs will provide training, education, and a chance for the people and the ex-combatants to move forward as a united group of people. In reading this and other programs about DDR, what struck me is that these packages of reintegration are being done only in post conflict situations. I wonder why can’t there be some sort of “preemptive” reintegration in areas that has deep divisions in societies.

In the aftermath of the US elections, many are shocked and many were saddened or angered by the results. How is it related? The results show deep division in society and the world overall. While the conflict and division may not lead to an all-out war, it does incite hate which translate back to areas where there are deep divisions and conflict. Here in the US, minorities are being harassed and even attacked for just being who they are and in Britain, minorities are being attacked as well. Many believe that the hate being incited by the government officials are inconsequential to the good that they will do for the country but is that really the truth? While I believe that not all Trump supporters are racists bigots, they are slightly giving the nod that the words that came out of Mr. Trump’s mouth is acceptable. It’s not bad enough that the country is still having racism issues but to have a President of the United States –the highest and probably one of the most prestigious titles in the world incite violence or hate is just frightening.

Since the end of the last election, a friend of mine wearing a hijab was told to “go home,” a coworker’s family was worried that they might get deported, and so many other examples of hate all over the world. So how is this related to DDR? Reintegration. Some of the mechanisms used in the reintegration packages should be highly recommended to these “modern society” to help bridge the gap. The funding will of course come from their governments but the fact if that not all post-conflict areas are the only ones that needs to have reintegration packages. I believe that given the state of the world and so many hateful actions reported and even caught on tape, I believe that countries should implement their own reintegration package to help bridge the gap between and to truly move forward as a united nation.

Bangsamoro and DDR: Is it really going through DDR?

Submitted by: Llaura Garcia

One of the agreements in recent years that came about was the 2012 Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro. The Bangsamoro, formerly known as the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), was an insurgency group in Mindanao, Philippines (the southern part of the country). The engaged in terrorist activities with the goal of being independent from the Philippines. They wanted independence until 2011 when they decided to go for a substate status instead. While the idea of peace agreement is ideal, I do wonder if the entire process of DDR will be followed through or if it’s necessary. The agreement is essentially a ceasefire agreement but I don’t see them completely disarming, demobilizing, or reintegrating. The agreement does have elements of DDR but not to the same extent as other DDR operations.

The Bangsmoro agreement was about the Bangsmoro having a way to govern themselves. Essentially, the agreement has a similar relationship to the central government that the US states has with the federal government. What I find fascinating about this agreement is that it is about the expansion of the powers by Bangsamoro. For example, it is stated in section 3.6 that, “the customary rights and traditions of indigenous peoples shall be taken into consideration in the formation of the Bansmoro’s justice system.” The Bangsmoro, who were guilty of terrorist acts, will not only get to be a substate –but will have the opportunity to create their own laws, govern themselves, have the power to levy taxes, get grants from outside institutions or organizations, generating their own revenue, and could expand their territory should certain areas decide to be included in the agreement. While this agreement is certainly more preferable to war and other terrorist acts, (as an outside observer), it is difficult to see how the people would be willing to live with the result of the agreement and normalize the relationship with those involved.

According to the Bangsmoro agreement (Section 8), the parties involved will participate in normalizing the relationship of those involved to ensure human security, maintain human rights, the MILF themselves are in charge of their own “demobilization” while the functions of the AFP to police will be transferred to the Bangsmoro, disbandment of private armies, reduction and control of firearms, rehabilitate ex-combatants, considering the needs of the IDPs, and creating a transitional justice system to address grievances. While I find that peace will always be my choice to fighting, the peace agreement doesn’t seem to be the most peaceful agreement since the group are in charge of their own demobilization, they can generate their own revenue, and there’s very minimal talk about oversite to ensure that the process is moving forward. I like the idea of Filipinos not fighting against each other but it worries me that loopholes will be found and some of the generated revenue will go to the “demobilized” or disenfranchised men who sympathizes or has relations with terrorist organizations like Abu Sayyaf and Al Qaida.

The Evaluation of DDR and CIP in Afghanistan

DDR in Afghanistan is one of the main pillars for their SSR(Security Sector Reform). According to the document, DDR was the most successful pillar out of the five pillars. The key part of the DDR process was the success at the political level. It helped the restructuring and reorganization of the Afghan National Army and the National Police. The document claims that the ANBP was a success due to its’ management, results, and impacts. However, we have to ask the question, did it meet the strategic objective of breaking command and control?

Overall, I would have to say that this was overall not successful. Of course, it brought a mixed bag of results The CIP did bring the commanders back in to civilian life. The first part of the DDR program, disarmament was a success. However, when we are talking about the success of a DDR program, we need all three departments to click which did not happen here. Demobilization and reinsertion were not achieved and therefore, reintegration was not a success.”We find that the R of commanders should have been better planned, and earlier: it should have been well on the way to being put in place before the disarmament and demobilization started. Disarmament should have been quickly followed by the delivery of promised reinsertion activities and reintegration incentives (pg. 23).” Also trust seemed to be a key reason, things did not go to plan.

The targeting structure of the commanders was initially a good idea considering the power they had and also the instability that is in the region. Therefore, this plan was understandable. However, there were problems that came up. The commanders remained close to the soldiers and knew their movements. There has to be more innovative ways in order to take this route of having the commanders in the program.

I believe without question this was a “buy out package.” The document even admitted this by stating that it was a “buy them off program.”  In the long run, it did not really help much and therefore, it just seemed like a temporary solution which was just papering the cracks over the real problem.

Overall, as we can see, it is very difficult to come up with proper solutions and to make the DDR program a real success. As we saw in this instance, the disarmament part of the program ended up working out but the other two parts ended up basically falling apart. This goes to show precise the planning and management has to be in order for a program to succeed.

By: Ahnaf Ahmed

Mali & DDR

By: Sam Trudeau

The ongoing situation in Mali seems to encompass many of the most pressing challenges facing DDR programs around the world. The United Nations peacekeeping force deployed to help stabilize the country is still basically operating in a conflict zone, despite attempts to enforce a Comprehensive Peace Agreement. State-building and peace-building operations like DDR are therefore undertaken in extremely volatile environments prone to sporadic surges of violence that threaten reversing initial DDR initiatives like setting up cantonment sites for former fighters and training and supervising mixed-patrols. Mali’s Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) involves three main although relatively fragmented groups: the Malian government, the pro-Tuareg separatist Coordination of Azawad Movement (CMA), and the pro-Government “Platform” which consist of Tuareg and Arab militias. Although radicalized actors such as Al Qaeda in the Islamic Magreb, various local Al Qaeda offshoots such as the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa, Ansar Al Dine as well as scores of foreign fighters were initially defeated and pushed out of Northern Mali by a French military operation, these armed actors have to some extent been able to regroup and resume operations. Criminal groups vying for smuggling routes have also participated in the violence. Favoring a military approach towards radical groups and excluding their combatants from DDR initiatives creates difficult dynamics on ground. Excluded from Mali’s CPA, they still retain the capability to act as spoilers to peace-building efforts. Besides the presence of radicalized fighters, the secessionist aspirations of the CMA and the central government’s apparent refusal to accept autonomous Tuareg governance in parts of the North have led to a political deadlock regarding the future of the CPA and efforts at reconciliation. The contested legitimacy of the political components of the peace plan seem to create real limitations to what DDR efforts might actually be able accomplish. From this perspective, the peace-building mandate enacted by the United Nations Security Council might to a certain extent be too ambitious given the realities on the ground and ultimately set DDR efforts up to fail. The United Nations Secretary General’s latest report on Mali already outlines some of the difficulties faced by DDR initiatives. Efforts to estimate the number of fighters on all sides eligible for demobilization into cantonment have been slowed down by a lack of cooperation as well as the large number of fighters. Although the number of belligerents designated for cantonment by all sides was initially expected to account for 6 000 combatants, the CMA has itself presented a list of more than 18 000 fighters. The pro-government Platform meanwhile had by the spring of 2016 still not provided its own list of fighters. Another important impediment to DDR efforts in Mali has been the state and international community’s inability to foster development in northern parts of the country. Economic disenfranchisement and a dire lack of basic services through Northern Mali is often identified in public opinion surveys as important driver of the conflict. The success DDR efforts, especially its longterm objectives, are therefore very much dependent on the state and international community’s ability to meet the needs of the populations in the North and create opportunities for sustainable development.

Family, Reintegration & DDR:

 

– by Ardra Manasi:  The New School

The measurement of DDR outcomes and the evaluation of its success often poses serious challenges. The complexity of the third generation DDR approaches, typified by measures in countering violent extremism (CVE), lies in its shift of engagement from state centric actors to non-state actors, that include often violent extremist (VE) groups like Taliban as in the context of Afghanistan. How does one measure the success of DDR in such a setting? The conventional measurement parameters like the number of weapons collected, the funds utilized and the number of ex-combatants demobilized might present a useful scenario. But can a non-conventional measurement parameter like monitoring the number of days that the individual militant spent with his/her family after demobilization be a useful measure to guide DDR practitioners? How far can family be helpful in understanding an individual’s integration into the community at large?

The Integrated IDDR Standards, the key operational guidelines for implementing DDR on the ground does not pay much attention to the role of family in its reintegration efforts. The disarmament and demobilization phase is followed by ex-combatants eventually returning to their homes, often equipped with socio-economic reinsertion packages. But it is useful to think about of how ‘home’/ ‘family’ becomes a site of both confrontation and adaptation. Is the combatant’s family receptive and welcoming? Or are they hostile and condescending? This gets even more worse for women ex-combatants returning home as they are perceived to have defied their gender roles by taking up arms (The case of women ex-combatants in Sri Lanka’s LTTE illustrate this).

Can an ex- combatant’s family play a role in ensuring that he doesn’t take up arms again? Conversely, what role may a family play in willfully getting an ex-combatnat to become a recidivist?  The family members can turn out to be either positive or negative influencers i.e they can either play a role in “radicalization” of fighters or can play a reformatory role. The latter revealing fact can be leveraged for reintegration efforts, especially for engaging with VE groups. For instance, the family members of such groups can receive special training in terms of taking care of the psychological needs of these ex-combatants and also for aiding in their de-radicalization efforts, supported by the UN or other community organizations. Drawing upon the case of Iraq, Doug Stone (2015), the brain behind the ‘Rome Memorandum’ (a compendium of best practices for rehabilitation and reintegration of violent extremist offenders) argues that for addressing radicalization issues among the violent extremists, the receiving community should be involved along with the militants, either one-on-one or in groups.

Ex-combatants often end up caught between their old extremist affiliations and the very society or community they sought to represent in their struggle. Usually, to the ex-combatant, the former extremist linkages have become unattractive and while the society they seek to integrate into has little need for them. Being caught in such a bind, this results in maladjustment and worse, an incentive to relapse into old ways of violence, criminal behavior, or extremism. This often results from a feeling of being unwanted in their old homes and an ongoing sense of drift. This is particularly true of non-ideological foot soldiers who, unlike ideological leaders, were conscripted into violent struggles to provide “muscle”.  It is here that the families become very important in terms of actively participating in the ex-combatant’s ‘normalization’ process.

Instead of a homogenous rehabilitation package devised for treating individual combatants as an undifferentiated mass, a more effective approach is one that is tiered in how it is administered, is continuously engaged over time, and multi-pronged as far as interventions are concerned.  To this end, this could include bringing families of those affected into community events together, to help them understand the pitfalls and potentialities ahead for themselves and the ex-combatants. This could also involve sensitizing the wives of men who have returned and helping them to cope with the returnee’s stress which may result in psycho-sexual anxieties as well.  On an economic front, if packages for families are tied to the ex-fighters’ continued cooperation and non-violence, there is a collective pressure at work that forces the fighter to aid his family on one end, while simultaneously, it allows the family to see the fighter as one among them.  Furthermore, the family members can be trusted sources for providing reliable information about the ex-combatants and their interactions once they are back home in terms of psychological profiles by a non-professional third party.

It is equally important to design DDR policies which address the psycho-social needs of such families who often face social stigma and alienation from the rest of the community. Developing policy guidelines in the IDDRS for family based integration as a component of ‘Reintegration’ can be a right step in this direction.

 

Living Conflict: The Current Challenge of DDR

By Timothy Koch, graduate student of International Affairs at the New School

Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration (DDR) in the modern age is facing a number of specific challenges that must be addressed in order to maximize safety and promote success rates.  One of the most important challenges that modern day DDR programs will face is their operation in areas where war and fighting is still occurring.  This new aspect presents a new and life threatening dynamic of modern DDR programs and will arguably be the most difficult challenge they face.

Previously, teams had operated in zones when a peace process was currently being implemented or had been implemented in the past; however this is no longer the case. DDR teams have never before operated under this magnitude of stress and danger, and in order to promote safety and success this challenge must be addressed head on. It is imperative that the teams gain specific and intrinsic knowledge of the conflict zone and general dynamic before and during the process.  These teams must familiarize themselves with the nature of the conflict, its actors, and the current dynamic of the conflict itself.  DDR teams have had these responsibilities before; however now it is important to remember that the conflict is not stagnant and can be perpetual and ever changing.  They must gain this knowledge and know that at any second the dynamic could shift and send their team and their own lives into a more dangerous situation.

The knowledge that is gained allows DDR teams to have more tools available to them in order to begin disarmament. They can offer incentives to turn in weapons and thus informally begin the peace process themselves. This will an easier route to a formal peace process and negotiations as once certain groups begin to disarm others may begin to follow suit making disarmament as whole more feasible.

The dynamic field of DDR is adapting to the challenges that are met on the ground and the teams must constantly remember that in order to ensure their safety and to promote success as much as they can. An environment with a lack of a formal peace process is a scary and daunting place and operators are right to think that strategies that had applied before could would not apply to their current situation.   Only one strategy can truly be prescribed to any and all DDR operations. It is the strategy of gaining knowledge beforehand and to continue to learn while on the ground.  Only then will safety be maximized and this is completely necessary in the world of DDR today.