Women’s essential contribution to peacebuilding

By: Lina Castellanos

Including women in peace negotiation processes is essential to sustainable DDR

efforts. Throughout history, all sorts of arguments have been made to exclude women’s

participation in peacebuilding: lack of negotiation skills, lack of experience, war being a

men’s field and some others that have proven to be mistaken not only because it is

clear war isn’t exclusively dominated by male combatants but also because women

have experienced war in different roles: as victims, perpetrators and peacebuilders. In

2000, the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and

Security acknowledged the importance of including women in peacebuilding. The

Security Council, urged member states to increase the representation of women at all

decision-making levels for the prevention, management, and resolution of conflict, and

expressed its willingness to incorporate a gender perspective into peacekeeping

operations and involving women in all peacekeeping and peacebuilding measures. For

the first time, women’s perceptions and contributions were recognized in post-conflict

scenarios. Yet, since the approval of Resolution 1325 it hasn’t always been the case

that women are actively included in peacebuilding efforts. In that sense, women are still

stigmatized and marginalized in their communities in a post conflict environment.

Women tend to be the most affected during conflicts but they are also more likely

to unify and advocate for peace. Besides, they have proven to create non-violent

resistant strategies that enrich the creation of a peace environment. In Colombia, for

example, la Ruta Pacífica de las Mujeres –The Women’s Pacifist Route- is a non-violent

feminist movement that has made visible the way war has affected Colombian women.

Since 1996, the movement has claimed for truth and justice and has successfully

transformed the idea of women perceived solely as victims of the conflict into a more

active role of women being socially and politically engaged in peacebuilding. Today

more than 10,000 women in Colombia belong to the Pacifist Route and without doubt

one of their greatest achievements has been sensitizing society on realities that were

commonly ignored. These women mobilize pacifically and originally; they usually want

to ridicule war by using tactics such as dressing in vivid colors -to challenge the vision of

war as a black and white subject-, they make soap bubbles to imitate war bombs and

they have confronted illegal armed groups with pacific chants when they have been

stopped before starting their protests in areas hard hit by the conflict.

A clear understanding and promotion of women’s rights accompanied by

initiatives to vindicate them is key to conflict and post-conflicts situations. Without those

elements it is difficult to create sustainable peace.

UN Peacekeeping, DDR & Children

By: Marko Stanic

In many ways, the role of the United Nations Peacekeeping efforts has become synonymous with the efforts of DDR. In many ways, the two can appear mutually exclusive – how can a nation have an effective transition from conflict to peace without the DDR programme and broader peacekeeping efforts?

The final paragraph (119) of the Role of United Nations Peacekeeping in Disarmament, Demobiliation and Reintegration, a report of the Secretary-General to the Security Council, seems to encapsulate the above statement firmly; “…the role of a peacekeeping operation in post-conflict disarmament, demobilization and reintegration is rooted in and feeds into a broader search for peace and development”. Consistent with what makes the DDR successful in peacekeeping operations, the SG acknowledges that one of the most important prerequisites for a successful DDR programmes is the presence of political will, support of civil society, and the assistance of the international community in the host nation.

In the early days of DDR, there has been a distinct lack of children, and child soldiers in the scope and caseload of DDR operations. This lack is most evident in Gen. 1. Since the turn of the millennium however, under the guise of Gen. 2 and 3, the caseloads have been expanded to include the youth. It does not take a lot to recognize that special attention needs to be paid to the DDR processes involving child soldiers. As defined by the United Nations, child soldiers are any persons under the age of 18 who take part in armed force in any capacity – this includes participation in direct combat, and any other non-combat roles, including accompanying groups as well as “girls recruited for sexual purposes and forced marriage.” (United Nations S/2000/101).

Reintegrating former (adult) ex-combatants into the society is a challenging process in itself, and it becomes especially challenging when children are involved. While children and adults may both share the same experience in armed conflict, children will in all likelihood respond differently to these stresses and traumas than adults. The exposure to risk from combat, and any other risks inherent in armed forces have the propensity to disrupt the physical, social, and emotional up-bringing of children. If professionally trained soldiers experience psychological consequences of combat such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), then what will these experiences have on children, and how might the DDR programmes help with this?

As the report by the Secretary-General suggests, “non-discrimination, gender equity, non-institutionalization and non-stigmatization of the children, and early family reunification” are all critically important in preparing DDR programmes that will include children as the targets of DDR. Furthermore, it is imperative to include all the children, including children not in armed forced but those growing up in the conflicted areas as well. It is important for the programmes to be inclusive as choosing to focus on one group over the other is not conducive of long-term peace and development.

While providing educational services does not fall under the operations and programmes of DDR, some fort of education is essential to the children entering the demobilization efforts. Much like male ex-combatants receive support packages and vocational training via reinsertion, so too should children receive education that would have been afforded in the absence of conflict. This will be vital for long-term reintegration. If children re-entering civilian status are expected to contribute to their communities in long-term (in adulthood), then the availability of schooling will directly affect how well they will reintegrate.

VIOLENT EXTREMISM AND THE RE-SHAPING OF PEACE OPERATIONS: DDR, CVE AND THE NEED FOR NEW POLICY GUIDANCE.

By Georgina Vazquez

United Nations (UN) peace efforts, and particularly peace operations, are often reviewed according their ability to adapt to ever changing contexts. The latter is reflected in two particular aspects: how should the UN engage in a particular peace mission or operations; how should the UN guide its transition processes during peace operations and missions. Both these questions are linked to the aspects of planning and the tools and frameworks the UN’s Security Council is taking into account when developing peace missions mandates.

Considering the above mentioned, currently Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) programming is facing the challenge of adapting to the context of combating and/or countering violent extremism. This is particularly challenging as DDR as a political strategy for post-conflict management is now being planned to start operating in contexts in which military operations are ongoing and the prospects for achieving peace remain unclear, signifying a complete change from traditional and second generation DDR approaches. In these sense, DDR is challenged by the question of whether it can help demobilize and disengage combatants. How DDR ought to be planned in such context, and how will this political strategy adapt for it to be able to still deliver to its objectives? Do DDR benchmarks also need to change?

I argue that DDR must consider the following in order to quickly adapt is role in peace operations and keep its effectiveness for contributing to conflict management: a) It needs to be both flexible in terms of adapting to local contexts but should not lack the consideration of reformed and updated peace frameworks; b) planning for DDR mandates by the Security Council must be done taking into account the current fragmented programming issues that the United Nations is facing; c) to ensure that the DDR strategy responds to local needs, as well as to reduce coordination and collaboration issues among implementing actors (UN actors, local governments, non-government organizations and communities) DDR planning should fundamentally be on-field focused and people-oriented.

Regarding how DDR will or should adapt to new contexts of violent extremism, I believe one key aspect is benchmarking. Benchmarking implies that DDR will be clearly planned, thus avoiding undertaking mandates that are loose in frameworks and policy guidance; benchmarking DDR would then respond to the particularities of the context and would help guide DDR when lacking a peace framework and pre-conditions.

Additionally, aspects related to sequencing and expansions of caseloads are two key elements to consider when trying to keep DDR as a strategy in contexts facing violent extremism. On the first hand, if DD is less possible, then focusing on reintegration of victims or vulnerable populations is one step to prevent mobilization or engagement as well as to advance on efforts regarding helping communities to develop absorption capabilities.  This is just one particular example.

DDR is a relevant tool for peace, thus starting to think how to reach a third generation DDR and combine it with all the UN peace transformations to make it context-responsive is an urgent and current step.

A Gender Perspective in Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration

By: Lina Castellanos

Reintegration of ex-combatants is one of the main challenges in Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration processes. Not only ex-combatants need to be given mechanisms for a sustainable reintegration, but they also need to have the determination to engage in what will be a complex long-term process. Still, one of the most relevant aspects in reintegration is the contribution and participation of society as a whole. Social Absorption –the ability of a community, economy and/or country to include ex-combatants as active full members of the society- is determinant when contemplating a sustainable reintegration. A national feeling of ownership of the process in which citizens are taken into account when planning and implementing DDR is crucial, but even more important is the ability of society to accept ex-combatants and participate in the absorption itself. The willingness to understand and accept that not all ex-combatants are the same, having in mind their live experiences, stories and roles in the past can contribute to planning and implementing accurate mechanisms for reintegration.  

The Second Generation of DDR caseloads were no longer exclusively military male (which was the case in the first generation). Women and children were now new actors within armed conflicts. However, their experiences, roles and needs are often under-represented. In the case of women, considering all as victims or simply supporters of male combatants is inaccurate. Women’s experiences and roles inside armed conflicts are numerous and diverse. It is clear that some women experienced sexual slavery, forced sterilization, abortion, the suppression of their femininity and other traumatizing consequences in the context of conflict. Yet, others committed crimes, had coordination responsibilities or for example, were given nursery roles. Not all women experienced the same, and not all fit in the stereotypical conception of women perceived as caring, protective and maternal; some of them actually don’t want to fit in those categories.

Understanding the complexity of individual experiences and expectations will enable a realistic absorption capacity. Considering women’s perspectives, opinions and needs in peace-building is fundamental for sustainable reintegration. Women have the ability of bringing communities together, rebuilding societies and fostering a culture of peace. In that sense, the inclusion of women in DDR is not only a duty but a benefit for society in general. Conditions that allow demobilized women to become productive members of their communities must be one of the main goals in reintegration processes because the failure to do so can jeopardize the whole DDR.

A gender perspective in Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration

Lina Castellanos

Reintegration of ex-combatants is one of the main challenges in Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration processes. Not only ex-combatants need to be given mechanisms for a sustainable reintegration, but they also need to have the determination to engage in what will be a complex long-term process. Still, one of the most relevant aspects in reintegration is the contribution and participation of society as a whole. Social Absorption –the ability of a community, economy and/or country to include ex-combatants as active full members of the society- is determinant when contemplating a sustainable reintegration. A national feeling of ownership of the process in which citizens are taken into account when planning and implementing DDR is crucial, but even more important is the ability of society to accept ex-combatants and participate in the absorption itself. The willingness to understand and accept that not all ex-combatants are the same, having in mind their live experiences, stories and roles in the past can contribute to planning and implementing accurate mechanisms for reintegration.

The Second Generation of DDR caseloads were no longer exclusively military male (which was the case in the first generation). Women and children were now new actors within armed conflicts. However, their experiences, roles and needs are often under-represented. In the case of women, considering all as victims or simply supporters of male combatants is inaccurate. Women’s experiences and roles inside armed conflicts are numerous and diverse. It is clear that some women experienced sexual slavery, forced sterilization, abortion, the suppression of their femininity and other traumatizing consequences in the context of conflict. Yet, others committed crimes, had coordination responsibilities or for example, were given nursery roles. Not all women experienced the same, and not all fit in the stereotypical conception of women perceived as caring, protective and maternal; some of them actually don’t want to fit in those categories.

Understanding the complexity of individual experiences and expectations will enable a realistic absorption capacity. Considering women’s perspectives, opinions and needs in peace-building is fundamental for sustainable reintegration. Women have the ability of bringing communities together, rebuilding societies and fostering a culture of peace. In that sense, the inclusion of women in DDR is not only a duty but a benefit for society in general. Conditions that allow demobilized women to become productive members of their communities must be one of the main goals in reintegration processes because the failure to do so can

 

 

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 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.

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.

 

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.