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

Women and War – Julia Rachiele

The role of women in war has existed long before discourse on the topic came into being.  This blog post will focus on the similarities of female combatants reintegrating during the  DDR process, and female United States veterans reintegrating back into civilian life after discharge. Having spent four years researching the topic of female veterans and how the lack of gender specific services causes higher homelessness rates, it was interesting to learn about the struggles of reintegrating female combatants.  There are many issues that arise in providing services to women who are actively and formerly involved in combat.  Consideration needs to be taken, not only in the immediate needs of female fighters, but also the psychological.

Women’s wartime experiences differ from that of men.  While women might be actively involved in combat, more goes into the female fighter narrative.  Women tend to also play major supportive roles to male fighters.  This hold true for US female military as they were not officially able to participate in combat until recently.  However, unofficial combat roles did exist.  Support roles during war have shown, in some instances, to be more psychologically damaging than combat experiences.  Support roles can range from cooking, organization, and administrative work to clean up after combat (removing bodies).  These roles are overlooked and underestimated in their importance and psychological tole.  Women also have to deal with the added burden of sexual harassment.  Sexual harassment includes verbal comments, gestures, unwanted physical contact, and rape.  Even if avenues existed to report sexual harassment, it has been shown that the stigma behind wartime sexual harassment prevents women from doing so.  All of these additional challenges during wartime cause women to have a more difficult time reintegrating back into society afterwards.

The difference in psychological needs of women coupled with the unique experiences of war, make it more difficult for women to reintegrate successfully.  Women generally have significantly different psychological requirements than men, meaning that female centered services need to be provided if one wants to see successful reintegration.  More female centered and female run psychological services need to be employed to address this need.  This becomes even more important when women are facing PTSD and sexual assault trauma.  Men and women cope differently, so the male centered services offered through DDR and Veterans Affairs are not adequate.  Another important aspect not widely considered for female fighters is their responsibility as a parental caregiver, and experiences of their home lives.  It has been noted that women go into conflict as a way of escaping non-ideal home lives, so when the women return there is a lack of stability leading to more issues.  This is exacerbated when the women are the primary caregiver to children.  Women are then not only responsible for themselves but also their children’s lives.  The additional pressure of children makes it more difficult psychologically and puts women under more stress.  Women fighters need to be consulted when crafting reintegration services to ensure they are what is needed.

Designing services for female fighters is something that has not been perfected even in developed countries such as the United States.  Female veterans are 3 times more likely to be homeless than their female civilian counterparts.  This mean that DDR programs for female combatants needs to be done in a way that truly meets the needs of the population.  Using techniques available to men or even models that have worked for women in other countries will not suffice.  Female fighter reintegration is a context driven initiative and needs to be treated as so.

The Need for Psycho-Social Approaches

By: Sam J.Trudeau

The idea that DDR approaches to reinsertion and reintegration are increasingly focusing on  security and development issues and therefore devoting less attention to psycho-social aspects has been an issue of concern for some. While security, sustainable development, reconstruction efforts and programs to bolster employment are obviously crucial to reinsertion and reintegration efforts, the success of these initiatives is also closely tied to the relationships between participants and the communities they are returning to, as well as the social environment within those communities. From the perspective of ex-combatants participating in DDR, a psycho-social approach to reintegration can help make the transition from combat and military life easier. It can take on many forms, but at its core recognizes the particular psychological challenges such a transition can present for participants. These challenges, although related to reconstruction and economic concerns, cannot solely be addressed by development. In Afghanistan, such an example can be found in programs that compensated former combatants to participate in the de-mining initiatives.  After decades of foreign intervention and civil war notoriously made Afghanistan the world’s most mined country, the value of a program to deactivate and destroy mines seemed self-evident. However the use of former combatants in the process has had at lest three relatively important psycho-social benefits. First, by utilizing former fighter in a noncombat role while leaving them to conduct their work under the familiar command and control structure of their former groups is believed to have facilitated their transition back to civilian life. Second, the important nature of the de-mining process for Afghanistan gave former combatants a meaningful way to contribute to the security, development and reconstruction of the country, withdraw them from the security equation while also allowing them to earn a living.Third, the considerable security threat posed by landmines in Afghan society saw communities greet the initiative with enthusiasm, and also often improved societal attitudes towards ex-combatants. Former fighters were often viewed with mistrust or contempt within the communities they were slated to be reintegrated into. However by holding consultations with local communities on how and where to undertake their de-mining efforts, ex-combatants are believed to have created a measure of goodwill within society. Indeed, it seems that an important aspect of psycho-social approaches is carefully balancing the needs of former combatants without destabilizing those of local communities. This is in turn engenders communal support and acceptance of former fighters. Approaches that consider psycho-social components when devising reintegration schemes can also be key to engaging and assisting vulnerable groups in DDR processes, such as the spouses of former combatants, former child soldiers and the disabled. Including these vulnerable groups into reintegration processes helps demonstrate good faith to communities but also has important impacts on security and preventing relapses in conflict. For instance child soldiers, many of whom have been forced away from their families and have experienced serious forms of trauma, present a considerable risk to rejoin militias if they are not provided treatment and support to facilitate their recovery. In these cases, psychological treatment and support are closely tied to former child soldiers successful social and economic reintegration.

Implementing Community-Based Security in Bosnia and Herzegovina

By: Kaitlyn Lynes

Inherent in the second generation of disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration programming is the focus on development objectives and caseloads beyond the scope of ex-combatants. All aspects of society negatively affected by conflict, including women, children, the elderly, and disabled ex-combatants, must be considered to engender sustainable reintegration and peace. The ultimate goal of successful reintegration is the return of ex-combatants to a community, whether the community they originated from or a new one. However, before a return can be achieved, prior conditions must exist. At a minimum, there must be an adequate absorption capacity for ex-combatants. This means there are economic opportunities for both people living in the community and the arriving ex-combatants. An additional complication often includes the return of internally displaced peoples and refugees, all of whom expect a job when they return. Beyond socio-economic reintegration, critical psychosocial issues must be addressed. Intensive community sensitization is the process of dealing with the traumas of war, often in the form of transitional justice and reconciliation mechanisms.  At times ex-combatants are reintegrated into communities which they attacked during the conflict. In essence, victims are expected to live in the same small towns and villages as their former aggressors, causing an extremely fragile security situation that can be improved with targeted psychosocial reintegration approaches. Most importantly, there must be strong local ownership of reintegration processes, ensuring a credible, context-appropriate program designed and implemented by those directly affected.

Community-based security is most effective in weak or failed states, yet has not been implemented in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Since the end of the war with Serbia following the signing of the Dayton Peace Agreement in December 1995, the country has been primarily governed by several international organizations. Many post-conflict initiatives—meant to solve immediate security issues at the local level—are still implemented today. The most well-known example is the two-in-one schools, school buildings across the country that have separate classrooms, administrations, offices, and recess hours based on ethnicity. Students and teachers of different ethnic identities never cross paths, even while occupying the same building at the same time. Recent protests against this system by students highlights the urgent need for community ownership over security considerations. The Bosnian government continues to struggle with a lack of authority and reach, as well as widespread corruption, both strong indicators that a bottom-up approach linking security and community development would positively benefit Bosnia and Herzegovina. Community-based security across the country will allow for efficient and effective governance structures to take hold and provide better mechanisms for finally dealing with psychosocial grievances experienced during the war.

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.

Building on 2nd Generation DDR Strategies for a 3rd Generation Framework

 After the release of the Brahimi Report in 2000, DDR practitioners began making changes to the way they operated in the field and thought about DDR as a program. The report, the response of a commission tasked with reforming peacekeeping operations at the UN, illustrated and called for change to inefficiencies that had become rampant in peacekeeping operations and a change in the culture of the UN to better meet the needs of the people it serves.

The report said, “Without renewed commitment on the part of Member States, significant institutional change and increased financial support, the United Nations will not be capable of executing the critical peacekeeping and peace-building tasks that the Member States assign to it in coming months and years.” (Brahimi Executive Summary 1). The report also calls for realistic mandates and robust doctrine in order to know when peacekeeping is a good idea and when it is not. The report questions the neutrality of the UN, saying it can be used to inflict harm and as an excuse not to intervene when there is clearly a right and a wrong happening. In order to implement these changes, the report calls for larger, more costly peacekeeping forces with the authorization to use force when it is called for.

These changes, first laid out in 2004, helped pave the way for the IDDRS, integrated DDR standards, which are the “bible” of sorts for DDR practitioners and are used as a way to integrate the information from many different UN agencies and departments to provide guidelines for implementing DDR programs. The IDDRS was a direct response to the Brahimi report and a way for the UN to document needed changes taking place after the end of the cold war. However, the IDDRS was based upon cold war assumptions of post-conflict areas. While conflict was changing dramatically, the infant policy lagged behind practice in the field. At the beginning of the IDDRS it says the following preconditions must be enacted before DDR can take place, “the signing of a negotiated peace agreement that provides a legal framework for DDR; trust in the peace process; willingness of the parties to the conflict to engage in DDR; and a minimum guarantee of security.”(2.10 pg 1) However, by the time this was written, it was increasingly not the case with more intrastate conflicts without peace agreements or an expectation of security in DDR environments.

To supplement the DDR, “Second generation DDR Practices in Peace Operations” published in 2010 and written by Professor Erin McCandless, take these changes, labeling them “Second Generation DDR” and discusses policy moving forward. The document defines second generation as, “Whereas traditional DDR focuses mainly on combatants that are present within military structures, the focus of Second Generation programmes shifts away from military structures towards the larger communities that are affected by armed violence” (3). Moving on it illustrates that 2nd generation programs are implemented even when a traditional peace process is not underway. This includes “building the foundation for longer term peacekeeping”(3). The report lumps the second generation changes in three categories: post-conflict stabilization measures, targeting specific groups, and alternative approaches to addressing disarmament and unregulated weapons (4-5) using examples from Cote D’Ivoire, Afghanistan, Haiti and Sierra Leone. While optimistic about the implementation of these new tactics to supplement the IDDRS in DDR initatives, the report warns in its conclusion “further work is necessary to refine the methodology of these practices as well as to develop a clear division of labor that ensures that Second Generation DDR is systematically applied in a manner that emphasizes deliverability and builds upon the comparative advantages of all actors” (31). Five years after the publishing of “Second Generation Practices in Peace Operations”, peacekeeping faces even newer challenges in the form of what has been called third generation DDR. These latest conflicts are not only intra state conflicts where DDR is being implemented without a peace agreement, but there is also an increase in foreign and ideological fighters in non-state settings (such as al-shabab in Somalia, and ISIS in Syria and Iraq). Not only is there no peace agreement, but active violence is still underway in many areas where DDR is being implemented as well. These conflicts mean that, according to Robert Muggah and Chris O’Donnell in the Stability Journal this year, “DDR has transformed from a carefully sequenced set of activities undertaken in the wake of negotiated peace deals to a widening cluster of measures that can include negotiating (and even implementing) the terms of peace itself.” Using countering violent extremism measures and disengaging militants from their radical organizations is now a job of DDR, in addition to what is laid out in the IDDRS as under the jurisdiction of DDR.

Overall, a return to the basics of DDR – a necessary piece of building security sector reform (SSR), with implementation of 2nd generation tactics and newer CVE methods such as deradicalization, combined with buy-in from local and regional actors is what will make third generation DDR possible. While flexibility is mandatory and increasingly necessary, having clearly defined objectives and goals, as well as a system for monitoring and evaluation will ensure that future DDRs will be an effective peacebuilding measure.

Sources:

Brahimi, Lakdhar. “Report of the Panel on United Nations Peace Operations.” United Nations General Assembly and Security Council: August 21, 2000 https://cve-initiative.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/the-brahimi-report.pdf

Muggah, Robert and O’Donnell, Chris. “Next Generation Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration.” Stability: International Journal of Security and Development: Vol 4, Issue 1. May 21, 2015. http://www.stabilityjournal.org/articles/10.5334/sta.fs/

“Second Generation Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration (DDR) Practices in Peace Operations.” UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations Office of Rule of Law and Security Institutions, Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration Section. New York: 2010. http://www.un.org/en/peacekeeping/documents/2GDDR_ENG_WITH_COVER.pdf

UN/Inter-agency Group on Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration, Integrated Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration Standards (IDDRS) (New York: United Nations, 2006).  (Level 1-2:  Modules 1.10, 1.20, 2.10, 2.20, and 2.30).

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.

 

The Central African Republic: A Model Country for DDR

By: Marko Stanic of The New School

Central African Republic (CAR) has become somewhat of a model country for Disarmament, Demobilization & Reintegration (DDR). Since claiming its independence from the French government in 1960, CAR has experienced chronic instability. With multiple overthrows of the country leadership, the mid-20th century CAR fits the mold of 1st Generation DDR nicely. Today the country is experiencing ongoing DDR programming, across all three phases, yet lingering challenges remain in the Northern parts of the country. Armed rebellions, and ex-combatants awaiting reintegration, if not addressed have the potential to undo the progress already achieved since the mid 20th century.

The DDR in CAR during the mid 20th century bares the definitive characteristics of the 1st Generation DDR. Known as the “era of statebuilding”, DDR during this period attempted to implement more powerful peace processes, with the backing of the United States and the Soviet Union. The Central African struggle for independence was an ideological one, it was a Liberation struggle. As such the DDR efforts focused on the security & stabilization efforts. The dominant caseload included male ex-combatants.

Since the 1960s there have been multiple overthrows of the government. Constitutional order was finally restored in 2005 with the launching of an all-inclusive Political Dialogue (PD). The PD was inventive at the time; it was inclusive of the politico-military groups which sought either rebellion or political inclusion. The latter was favored by the DDR. In 2008 the continuing peace talks had led to the disarmament of 2 main rebel groups, and the incorporation of their representatives in the country government.

The job however is not finished here. Presently there are 6,500 ex-combatants (XCs) and members associated to the armed groups in the prefectures of Ouham and Ouham Pende in Northern CAR. These persons have been disarmed and demobilized, but reintegration has yet to occur. Furthermore, there is resistance on the part of the country leadership to engage in a meaningful impact. The recurring rebellions in Northern CAR, coupled with the large amount of XCs in the same area creates a volatile situation – there is a risk of the non-integrated XCs taking up arms as part of the active rebellions.

The general lawlessness in the Northern CAR is further buffeted by the general absence of the state in the region. Security forces’ lack discipline and leadership, road-blockers acting with impunity, lend to regional instability. As such Northern CAR is highly vulnerable to internal and external shocks. The focus of DDR will need to be on the Northern regions of CAR. With the present instability created by the rebelling groups, and 6,500 personnel still awaiting reintegration the expectations are high for security stabilization and the reintegration of the ex-combatants.

 

 

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.