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.

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