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 of 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.

Post-Conflict DDR in BiH: First Generation Solutions for Third Generation Challenges

By: Kaitlyn Lynes of The New School

With the end of the Balkans War in 1995 by outside military intervention, the international community quickly stepped in to implement a peacekeeping mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina.  Although the UN had an earlier presence in the region, declaring “safe areas” under international protection since 1993, its mandate did not include the use of force, and therefore was quickly overrun by the Serb military. This ultimately led to the 1995 genocide in Srebrenica.

When the Dayton Peace Agreement (DPA) was signed in December 1995, provisions for disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR) were exclusively based on a statebuilding and security-centric framework—what we now consider the first generation of DDR. There was no long-term perspective for the program, due to the political fragility of the DPA and the final goal being the immediate conclusion of violence. The peacekeeping mission in BiH was further defined by first generation DDR through its overt preference for political rather than development processes and embodiment of the post-Cold War era with international cooperation.

Primary responsibility for the implementation of DDR officially fell to the World Bank and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), but in reality became a disjointed effort on behalf of the international community. Because there had been no prior Bosnian state before the war, institution-building was ignored in the short term, and an international transitional governance body was established that could not ultimately take responsibility or accountability for long term reintegration objectives. With approximately 400,000 to 430,000 combatants requiring DDR, the DPA simply called for the demobilization and disarmament of armed fighters, reducing their risk as spoilers and consolidating power into a governance structure. After disarmament, no further assistance to ex-combatants was provided.

The first generation statebuilding objectives could also not account for the communal nature of the conflict. As the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF) states, “such ‘communal conflicts’ are generally long-lived, difficult to solve and represent great challenges with regard to establishing mutual trust: trust that is a necessary precondition for weapons collection.” Because the conflict necessitated the dissolution of Yugoslavia, there was no state for Bosniaks to return to or trust. If citizens could not trust the state to provide protection from the Serbs, there was no incentive to participate in a DDR program.

While second generation DDR objectives, focusing on development and reintegration, could have positively impacted Bosnia’s ability to support ex-combatants and enforce peace, third generation DDR programming better addresses many of the challenges Bosnia faces today. In order to achieve a total and lasting peace, there must be trust and transparency in statebuilding and institution-building initiatives, acknowledgement of shortcomings in the reconciliation process for victims, and the crucial role identity has played in the conflict. The international community must turn over ownership of the entire peace process to the Bosnian state, and a new political and legal framework must replace the outdated, first generation-driven DPA.


Moratti, Massimo, and Amra Sabic-El-Rayess. “Transitional Justice and DDR: the case of Bosnia and Herzegovina.” International Center for Transitional Justice (2009): 6.

Pietz, Tobias. Demobilization and reintegration of former soldiers in post-war Bosnia and Herzegovina: an assessment of external assistance. Hamburg: Institut für Friedensforschung und Sicherheitspolitik, 2004.

Rufer, Reto. “Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR): Conceptual approaches, specific settings, practical experiences.” Geneva Center for Democratic Control of the Armed Forces (DCAF) Working Paper. http://se2. dcaf. ch/serviceengine/FileContent (2005).

The Three Generations of DDR and the Evolution of Global Goal Setting Models for Peacebuilding

By: Georgina Reyes of The New School

DDR changes in program objectives mark the change from one generation of DDR mandates to another. However, each generational change is the representation of much broader change; first a change related to the approaches for conflict management and second, regarding the model for developing global goals as well as peacebuilding frameworks.

The distinction between the first and second generation is marked by the adoption of goals increasingly oriented towards development compared to the security-oriented programs implemented during the first generation.

To understand the emergence of DDR operations as some kind of “strategy” to end conflict, it must be considered that they first exercises were conducted in post-colonial states which had a conflictive transition from colonial states to sovereign states, as some of them experienced military dictatorships right after (cases in Africa for example). In this sense, after the rebels, insurgencies or militias engaged in processes for overthrowing military dictatorships, agree to a certain type of stability there will be a need to re-construct a state, this time a liberal democracy.

As a result, DDR then emerges as a tool to “order” all the political actors in post-conflict contexts under the Westphalian model focused mostly in the balance of power, thus in the notion of security.

The development approach for conflict management and peacebuilding, came in a context in which the legitimacy of the agreed-on – by the conflict affected country as well as by the great powers–use of military power was criticized for its roll in failed humanitarian interventions, and a parallel process of new conflicts that transcended any balance of power related structure.  The understanding of security breaks a little from the common dichotomy of war-peace that leads to assume peace is the absence of war.

Later on, the adoption of a development oriented approach for conflict management occurred in parallel to the adoption of the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs). These goals had the particularity of having being thought in terms of what the role of the developed countries was in the development of underdeveloped countries, thus a “top-down” structure for peacebuilding, Statebuilding and development itself was constructed. This affected DDR results as peace felt to be imported thus lacking of an understanding about the roots of conflicts. This certainly affected the outcomes as risks of relapsing as well as in practice, by failing to be able to achieve absorption capabilities for reinsertion, non were conflict drivers or spoilers removed from the security equation nor the basis for avoiding the perpetuation of conflict by political gain changed.

However as the focus was not only development as the foundation to address peace but important component of political– and not military– resources as a fundamental mean for peacebuilding, the second generation traced the path for a more “internationally” development of global goals, as well as the path for the need of local ownership in the implementation of any global framework.

The third generation started to question even more DDR operations, more than anything because the development of a local consciousness about their agency in the building of their own peace was strongly starting to mark any partnerships and UN missions. The development of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as well as the Peacebuilding and Statebuilding Goals (PSGs), show the previously assumed pre-conditions of DDR are called into question.

With every transformation in the model and manner in which global goals are settled, meaning going from a top-down approach to a mutual responsibility approach, the way in which peace is taken “operationally” as DDR activities would suggest, would mean perhaps a more positive and prolonged outcome.

Moving beyond Peace keeping – Second Generation DDR and the case of Haiti

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.

Colombia, Peace, Social & Political Absorption Capacity

By:  Lina Castellanos – The New School

Reintegration and Absorption Capacity

Last Sunday, October the 2nd, Colombians were asked to vote Yes or No in a national plebiscite to approve –or not- the Government’s peace agreement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). After 52 years of war, the bewildering outcome was No. All of a sudden, the four year negotiations between the Government and the leaders of the FARC in Havana-Cuba, were reduced to No 50,21% (6.431.376 votes) and Yes 49,78% (6.377.482 votes). Even more shocking than the rejection of the peace agreement, was the number of Colombians that didn’t vote (around 62% of Colombians didn’t participate in the plebiscite). The outcome to some was absolutely appalling but at the end demonstrates -within a long list of other conclusions- that Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration -DDR- processes are certainly highly unpredictable and need to constantly evolve. Moreover, it demonstrates that the concept of Absorption Capacity was definitely a serious setback in the recent Colombian events.

Absorption capacity is the ability of a community, economy and/or country to include ex-combatants as active full members of the society. The term can also refer to social and political reintegration opportunities. In the 297 pages of the peace accord document -for example- FARC were given the opportunity to become a political party and were given relatively small punishments for their crimes. Those two elements –again, in conjunction with many others from different natures- are precisely a clear sign of the challenges Reintegration and Absorption Capacity represent. Political reintegration was for sure one of the main issues Colombians who voted were evidently divided. Those who believed this was an historic opportunity to end a long-lasting war voted Yes, and those who didn’t agree with the content of the accord, and specially with the benefits given to the FARC, voted No. In that sense, there is a relevant percentage of Colombian population who may be an obstacle when trying to undertake reintegration initiatives and who would at some extent threaten the DDR process, specially the absorption and reintegration of FARC members.

Armed conflict destroys the social fabric of a country; it is clear that for those who personally suffer the consequences of war forgiving is a major thing. Yet, not everyone who voted No has experienced the conflict and many of the regions directly affected by the conflict voted Yes; this proves the myriad of personal experiences that can highly influence a peace process. In the Colombian case, there was an agreement between the Government and the guerrilla group, however we can’t forget that the basis of reintegration is a result of sustainable, community-driven efforts. Efforts hard to achieve when a peace process is tremendously politicized.

An Overview & Analysis of Contemporary DDR

From Julia Rachiele at the New School

Last week’s reading and discussion regarding the evolution of Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration (DDR) over time, for me draws parallel to other aspects of global governance within the international community. Not only do the generations of DDR seems to develop in conjunction with the goals and beliefs of the Global North of the time, but they also seem to act as fulfilling the needs and wants of the recipients more as DDR discourse progresses. Understandably so, as the major stakeholders are the donors, organizations, ad governments intervening in post-conflict situations. However, DDR needs to continue to progress in a way that mitigates the effects of the difference of what the key stakeholders are each aiming to gain from the DDR process.
As society develops, so do the practices, beliefs and norms. However, an overarching theme has been shown in the international community’s interactions over the years, as a self-serving bias off the Global North. Personally, I drew parallels between the evolution of human rights discourse and the establishment of DDR initiatives. The former having been established as a norm in the early 20th century, while the latter has only just begun to become formalized. The two do collide over the confusion in their respective discussions on what to do and how to do it. DDR originally developed as a way to grant states sovereignty, in a way was realizing the beliefs of the Global North. The first generation of DDR granted states sovereignty through assistance from northern global powers. These new nations were then appointed governments, typically consisting of the former rebellion fighters of the conflict. This is a way allowed the global powers to still have influence within the newly formed country, as a way to continue furthering their own agenda. This parallels the early establishment of human rights in that the former colonies were able to realize their own independence under the permission ff their former colonizer, while still holding stakes financially within the country.
Going into the second generation off DDR, various stakeholders emerged to facilitate the activities. Including, NGOs, NPOs, International governing bodies, and foreign governments. The basis of the second generation of DDR was to promote development and work with al those involved in the DDR process. This differed from the first generation in that, women, children, communities, and all actors were taken into consideration during planning. The use of various actors with varying degrees and types of power allow multifaceted and innovative approaches to take place. While beneficial in that it is being carried out more in the context of the communities, other issues also arise. The main issues that arise are that programs are going on simultaneously but might not be working in conjunction, and that reinsertion might be happening, but full reintegration is not realized. Also, as in human rights initiatives non-government actors are intervening, to assist all individuals in need, and their levels of accountability and responsibility are not formalized. Leading to the question of, who is to be held responsible when DDR does not succeed and might cause unexpected harm in other areas.
The international community is currently in the third generation of DDR. Building upon the earlier generations, this generation integrates political aspects into the process. This is significant as the newly established governments need to retain their sovereignty during the fragile transitional stages of DDR. The thought is that by empowering the governments the countries are able to continue once the foreign powers withdraw from the country. However, this line of thinking has had its own issues arise from it. DDR continues to develop as initiatives proceed, and only overtime will practitioners learn through experience of what doesn’t work and what has been found to be beneficial in the process.

Political Reintegration & Governance Issues in Myanmar – An editorial response

In her article for PRSG “Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) and Security Sector Reform (SSR) in Myanmar”, Helena Gronberg from the New School’s Graduate Program of International Affairs rightly points us to assessing the role the military will play in the political process. As the article concerns itself with ‘DDR’ specifically, as policy experts and practitioners we do well to note that a military junta, such as that in Myanmar, willingness to engage in political dialogue in and of itself sends a strong signal that a peace process may be ripe. To this end we can also examine Helena’s previous question in PRSG, “Is The Time Ripe for DDR in Myanmar?”

These are incredibly important, yet distinctly separate questions. To the first point we may acknowledge the military engagement in a process that even considers DDR as a step forward in the wider domain of peace processes. The reluctance of non-state armed groups (NSAGs) to undertake a comprehensive DDR is less telling, than it is expected. In the second instance we take note that conditions optimal for DDR to be credibly planned and executed are not firmly in place. To this end we may fathom the answer – No! The time is not ripe for DDR, though perhaps the more poignant question is whether DDR is the appropriate vehicle in its traditional configuration to forward the peace process and reshape the wider security sector environment. Conventional wisdom leads us the conclude DDR is not optimal, rather may be pasted upon the Myanmar context due to a lack of preconditions being existent.

In dispelling the use of DDR as an umbrella initiative to affect security elements of complex peace processes, Helena rightly points out the larger, and more nuanced components of an SSR agenda – police, the judiciary and community driven security functions. However, the unpacking of SSR as applied to Myanmar, and when juxtaposed onto DDR, does not go far enough. The situation in Myanmar is what may be aptly termed ‘political reintegration’. This may include wider issues of Governance, autonomy and rule of law (RoL). Termed ‘The Governance of DDR’, preliminary policy research by the UN was scuttled during a 2014 restructuring exercise.

So, if the time is not ripe for DDR, yet DDR ‘like’ processes are underway, where can policy makers and practitioners turn for illustrations and insights. Interestingly, Kosovo provides a model for consideration. The Civil Protection Corps, a Serbian hardline group under the command and control of Belgrade, though resident in Kosovo being considered to perform security sector functions akin to protection of national monuments and heritage sites. This dilutes the armed component of a formal DDR while preserving a security sector function. This is outlined specifically in Article 18 of the Brussels Agreement, which essentially calls for a DDR of the CPC. The purpose as related to ‘political reintegration’ or ‘political DDR’ is to move Kosovo and Serbia close to EU Accession. In this regard, DDR is framed within the ‘normalization or relations’ between Serbia and Kosovo.

Looking closer to home, and good regional illustration from Asia may include a look at the Bangsamoro Framework Agreement that initially outlined a framework for peace between the government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). In this framework agreement political reintegration and cultural reintegration are considered due to that variety and variance in ethnic, religious and cultural makeup. Autonomous economic, educational and security structures are considered as part of a peace process. Where the nomenclature of ‘DDR’ was poorly received by NSAGs, and disarmament even more so, the use of terms such as ‘decommissioning’ seems more palatable and provide more flexibility to design and implementation.

Notions, concepts and prescripts for DDR and SSR are always context specific. Where some elements may not be applicable, or ripe, there are aspects of these programing options that have considerable and direct utility. At the same time, a blanket approach to using DDR runs the risk of program failure at best, and collapse of a peace process and return to conflict at worst. For the victor in a Liberations Struggle DDR may be a heroes option, for a armed rebel groups seeking agency and redress for grievance DDR may be a dubious effort and war by political means, and for a defeated group, DDR may represent humiliation.

The applications of our tools and policies, their context and timing are as important as how they are perceived and the language we use to convey their intent and meaning.

By Dean Piedmont – Director of the CVE & Reintegration Initiative


Prospects for Peace & Security in Myanmar

Helena Gronberg in her piece for PRSG – “Is Myanmar Ripe for DDR?”, rightly points to a classic DDR ‘dilemma’ being faced in Myanmar. This is focused largely on the sequencing of a DDR effort, pointedly D-D-then-R. In what is called ‘classic’ or 1st Generation DDR lasting from around the late 1980s until the early 2000s[1] this was less of an issue as DDRs were governed by comprehensive peace settlements. These occurred most notably in Southern Africa and Central America. Countries like Angola, Mozambique, Guatemala and Nicaragua are notable examples. In the mid-2000s both the promulgation of the global policy guidance known as the Integrated DDR Standards (IDDRS), as well as the 2nd Generation DDR in Peace Operations simultaneously, and respectively, cemented policy around historic best practices and lessons learned while also calling for a new policy construct based on lessons being learned. Part of this new policy call includes flexible sequencing for D-D-R.

While security sector reform (SSR) and/or security sector integration (SSI) is in play when discussing Myanmar, on the face of it this un-necessarily conflates issues related to a negotiated political settlement, and while more complex issues are at stake, the basis of Helena’s argument is one of DDR sequencing and political dialogue. As such, there is nothing inherent to SSR or DDR that requires disarmament prior to negotiating terms in a political settlement.

At issue is the fact that 7 of the 15 armed groups is not parties to the NCA as pointed out. The reasons for such exclusion, willful or otherwise, are as important to understanding the terms for SSR and DDR, as they are for the preconditions to undertake SSR and DDR. Are the conditions that are being established precluding bringing parties to the table? The question is relevant for armed groups, as well as government actors. Disarmament as a precondition for negotiating peace is quite dissimilar to sequencing D-D-R once a settlement is signed. Both require varying degrees to trust in the peace process, and both requires a certain type of entry points for negotiation assuming both parties are willing to do so. This can include incremental disarmament, arms management and verification programs and the like as part of a peace settlement. Disarming armed groups prior to getting them to the peace table is likely to be more difficult.

The above discounts armed group’s unwillingness to be included in any SSR/SSI process that would use DDR as a tool for implementation. As Helena points out, Myanmar’s conflict includes ‘root causes’ and ‘grievances’ related to deep ethnic divisions. In such cases, the very notion of a DDR effort must be challenged – “Is Myanmar Ripe for DDR?” is a suitable question.

The question then becomes is DDR the appropriate tool, program, policy and/or approach for durable conflict mediation and peacebuilding in Myanmar. If issues of autonomy are being pursued as part of a larger SSR, Rule of Law (RoL) and Governance agenda, then we must consider that references and pushes on the DDR issue too early in the peace process may ‘cause harm’ by stalling already fragile peace processes.

In this regard, Myanmar may wish to look to its neighbors both regionally and beyond for examples of ‘DDR-like’ processes that are facilitating peace through approaches that include armed group ‘decommissioning’ as was considered for the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in the Philippines, or the ‘normalization of relations’ as is being considered in the Brussels Agreement between Kosovo and the Serbian Civil Protection Corps (CPC). These convey a certain degree of dignity, recognition, respect and legitimacy on armed groups where DDR is often perceived by groups undergoing disarmament as the equivalent to defeat, loss and failure. In some cases this may include cultural, political and personal emasculation.

In all instances, Helena does point us in a direction that is relevant and warrants further analysis and consideration.

By:   Dean Piedmont.  Director PRSG & the Countering Violent Extremism Initiative

[1] The use of the term ‘classic’ or 1st Generation DDR is used by Adjunct Professor Dean Piedmont in at the Studley Graduate Program of International Affairs at the New School in the ‘DDR in Contemporary Peace Operations’ course. The conceptual framework juxtaposes DDR through 3 successive generations. The first deals with a ‘Statebuiding Era’ for DDR, the second is DDR in an ‘Age of Development’ while the third in ‘Political DDR’ typified by ongoing conflict in asymmetric settings with violent extremist (VE) groups. Currently DDR is in its 3rd Generation, though this is not where Myanmar sits in this construct.