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Centre d’Etudes et de Recherches Internationales

Sciences Po/CNRS

Secrétariat Général de la Défense Nationale
(Services du Premier Ministre, France)

(Graduate Institute of International Studies, Geneva)

Les anciens combattants d’aujourd’hui

Désarmement, démobilisation et réinsertion


"Disarmament, Demobilization & Reintegration" Programs

Béatrice Pouligny
Septembre 2004

Ce document fait suite à un séminaire international organisé par le CERI & le SGDN, à Paris.
This document draws upon insights shared at an international seminar convened by CERI & SGDN, in Paris.
ISBN : 2-8288-0059-8

The disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) of former combatants is increasingly

recognized as a crucial factor in post-conflict peace-building efforts. But behind these three words lies
a complex and intricate reality. A comprehensive and coherent response from the international
community to many of the issues at stake in DDR – both political and practical – has yet to emerge.

It is with the aim of tackling these issues in both general and specific terms that the Center for
International Studies and Research (CERI – Sciences-Po/CNRS, France) and the Secrétariat Général
de la Défense Nationale (Prime Minister’s Office, France), organized an international seminar in Paris
on June 14, 2004, entitled Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration of Former Combatants:
Lessons Learnt and Challenges Ahead. This effort was coordinated by Béatrice Pouligny, Senior
Research Fellow at CERI, and Eric Chevallier, Deputy-Director for International Crisis and Conflict
Monitoring at SGDN.

The seminar participants were a group of exceptionally qualified experts, who, armed with an
in-depth understanding derived either from their positions as researchers or practitioners, treated the
issues concerning DDR programs in a highly constructive manner. Not only did their comprehensive
knowledge and field experience permit an evaluation of existing measures, but their research also
enabled them to specify in a concrete fashion the direction that efforts of the international community
should take in this domain.

The idea of the seminar was initiated by the Secrétariat Général de la Défense Nationale,
which is a service of the Prime Minister’s Office in France. It acts as an inter-ministerial body for
issues regarding national/international security, and prioritizes reflection on, as well as the preparation
and subsequent monitoring of, decisions taken. It coordinates ad-hoc teams constituted of officers
from the various Ministries concerned. The SGDN commissioned the Center for International Studies
and Research to organize a collective reflection effort on DDR processes. One of the main objectives
of CERI is to provide expert analysis on today’s major international issues, in particularly those
related to security. CERI was founded in 1952, within the Fondation Nationale des Sciences Politiques
(FNSP). As a joint FNSP-CNRS research unit, CERI is France’s foremost center for research on the
international political system. Conflict analysis and resolution is a central component of its research

The Programme for Strategic and International Security Studies (PSIS) was keen to partake in
this partnership. Since its creation as a special programme of the Graduate Institute of International
Studies (Geneva) in 1978, the main objective of the PSIS has been to offer a framework for research,
documentation and debate on issues relating to international security, strategy, and arms control. Over
the past few years, the PSIS has widened its scope to include work on such issues as small arms and
biological weapons, and to focus in particular on policy-relevant research, working in close contact
with international stakeholders.

It is also with this aim in mind that CERI, SGDN and the PSIS have wished to share their
expertise. We are very pleased to be able to present the fruits of this collaboration in the form of this
report, The Politics and Anti-Politics of Contemporary “Disarmament, Demobilization and
Reintegration” Programs.

Christophe Jaffrelot Eric Chevallier Keith Krause

DDR Politics and Anti-politics / Les anciens combattants d'aujourd'hui

About the Author and Contributors

Béatrice Pouligny, PhD, is a Senior Research Fellow at the Center for International Studies and
Research (CERI / Sciences-Po) and teaches at the Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris (France). She
also regularly leads training sessions on peace operations for diplomats, militaries and humanitarian
workers, in different countries. In 2002-2003, she received an award from the Fulbright Commission
(New Century Scholars Program). She has just completed a book: When the Blue Helmets arrive: UN
peace operations and local people, London: Hurst / New York: Columbia University Press
[forthcoming 2005] and has co-edited with Simon Chesterman and Albrecht Schnabel, Mass-crime
and Post-conflict Peacebuilding, United Nations University Press [forthcoming].

Contributors to this report (in alphabetical order):

Eric Chevallier, co-organizer of the seminar held in Paris, is Deputy-Director for International Crisis
and Conflict Monitoring at the Secrétariat Général de la Défense Nationale (Prime Minister’s Office,
France). He teaches on conflict prevention and peace processes at ENA, Institut
d'Etudes politiques de Paris and Sorbonne University as well as in several
centers in Europe, and is member of the steering group of the EU training
programme on civilian aspects of crisis management. He served as a special adviser to Bernard
Kouchner, SRSG and head of the UN Mission in Kosovo.

Philip H. Fluri is Deputy Director, Head of Outreach of the Geneva Center for the Democratic Control
of Armed Forces (Switzerland).

Nathalie Fustier was political affairs officer on Iraq at the United Nations.

David Garibay, PhD, Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris (France).

Jeremy Ginifer, PhD, is a Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for International Co-operation and
Security (CICS), Department of Peace Studies of the University of Bradford (UK).

Kenji Isezaki is Former Special Representative of Japanese Government for DDR in Afghanistan,
Professor at the Graduate School of Social Design Studies, Rikkyo University (Japan).

Robert Muggah is a Professional Fellow of the Social Science Research Council, a doctoral candidate
at Oxford University and Project Manager of the Small Arms Survey, Graduate Institute of
International Studies, Geneva (Switzerland).

Kelvin Ong is a political advisor (DDR) at the Peacekeeping Best Practices Unit, United Nations
Department of Peace Keeping Operations (UNDPKO).

Luke Patey is a Master student at the Copenhagen Business School and during the preparation of this
report was completing an internship at CERI.

Michael Pugh, PhD, is Professor of International Relations, University of Plymouth (UK) and Editor
of the Journal International Peacekeeping.

Jean-Claude Thomann (3* G.) was the first Deputy-COMKFOR in Kosovo.

Marie-Joëlle Zahar, PhD, is Professor of Political Science at the University of Montréal (Canada).

The views expressed are those of the author alone. The author would like to thank Jasmine
Zerinini and Romuald Pichard for their comments on an earlier version of the text, and Jasmine
Champenois and Oliver Jütersonke for their editing.
A French version of the report follows the English text. Both are available at CERI’s website:

DDR Politics and Anti-politics / Les anciens combattants d'aujourd'hui

I – About the Report 4

II – The DDR Apparatus 5

III – Combatants & Vulnerable Groups 7

IV – Local Communities & Local Knowledge 11

V – DDR as Social Engineering 14

VI – DDR as Politics 19

VII – Monitoring & Assessment Processes 21

VIII – Ethics 22

IX – From the Field 24

X – Selected Bibliography 27

A French version of the report follows the English text, commencing on page 28

East Congo (photo Khanh Renaud)

DDR Politics and Anti-politics / Les anciens combattants d'aujourd'hui


About the Report

This report draws upon insights shared at an local communities, issues relating to
international seminar on Disarmament, local politics, etc.
Demobilization and Reintegration of Former ‰ The socio-political engineering
Combatants: Lessons Learnt and Challenges implicit in most DDR programs: DDR
Ahead, convened by the Center for not only concerns the future of ex-
International Studies and Research (CERI – combatants, but also the integrated
Sciences-Po), and the Secrétariat Général de la management of post-conflict issues,
Défense Nationale (Prime Minister’s Office, including security, the political
France), in Paris, on June 14, 2004. economy of peacebuilding, and the
transformation of political regimes.
The aim of the seminar was not to ‰ The political constraints, conditions
articulate a doctrine for, or an exhaustive list and practices that shape DDR
of, Disarmament, Demobilization and programs and thus need to be managed
Reintegration (DDR) initiatives, but was rather more effectively.
to analyze the principal lessons learnt from ‰ The concrete tools required so that
programs carried out worldwide in the last 15 DDR programs can be better
years, to identify the main challenges that monitored, the ethical dimensions of
require urgent attention, and to propose a agencies and practitioners’ work more
concrete set of principles to rationalize and effectively addressed and more
better conceptualize the whole DDR process. creatively developed – all this while
For this purpose, the discussions were based on assessing and duplicating best
input by practitioners and analysts, combining practices. The concrete
case studies and cross-cutting approaches in recommendations formulated towards
order to analyze the main issues of DDR for this end include selected references
societies emerging from conflict. which can be of direct use for
decision-makers and practitioners.
In drawing on this process of collective
reflection, the report proposes a series of key It is important to note, however, that this
parameters that could inform DDR programs in report does not cover structural changes
terms of their design, implementation, and regarding the UN and cooperation between the
evaluation. It is aimed specifically at senior different agencies. For instance, in addition to
United Nations management officers and UNDPKO, two key development agencies are
support staff, donors, and NGO officials chiefly responsible for advancing DDR: the
dealing with related issues. It also intends to World Bank and the UNDP. Though they
support the ongoing interagency initiative occasionally cooperate, they also regularly
named “Towards a United Nations Approach endorse competing, even contradictory,
to DDR in a Peacekeeping Context”. The philosophies and approaches. As so many
report focuses on four key dimensions of DDR reports have dealt with this set of issues
programs that are in need of drastic already (including the Report of the Panel on
improvement in order to achieve an effective Peace Operations, the so-called ‘Brahimi
and meaningful process and outcome: Report’), and ongoing UN initiatives focus
‰ The analysis of local socio-political particularly on this aspect, the rapporteur and
contexts; including consideration of contributors to this report have preferred to
who the former combatants are, what develop a pragmatic ‘best practices’ approach
the different dimensions of their rather than elusive proposals for institutional or
conversion should be, what kind of normative reforms.
relations they have developed with the

DDR Politics and Anti-politics / Les anciens combattants d'aujourd'hui

– II –

The DDR Apparatus

DDR activities have played an increasing role is not (or has not) been enforced by a coalition
in the context of peacekeeping, but there of forces (in many cases, coalitions were
remains no agreed doctrine or fully-developed reluctant to play this role, as in Haiti in both
set of parameters as to how DDR can be 1994 and 2004), the UN itself can only rely on
carried out effectively in varying contexts. Nor voluntary disarmament, as its capacity to
are there agreed methods of assessment or enforce such a process remains very low.
evaluation. This partly explains the tendency to There are also situations where, if no forces
put many inappropriate objectives and can fill the ‘security vacuum’, demobilization
expectations under the DDR umbrella. It is may put at risk those who indeed agreed to
therefore useful to briefly recall what DDR is disarm, and may create tremendous
generally intended to be. asymmetries between stakeholders, thereby
further undermining prospects for meaningful
What DDR is supposed to be stability and security.

DDR is generally agreed to cover the Finally, some argue that DDR is more
following set of activities. than just about putting weapons beyond use,
but is rather about changing attitudes in a given
D for Disarmament society.
DDR programs do not necessarily start with
disarmament, even though the acronym
suggests that the procedural order is indeed
first disarmament, then demobilization, and
eventually reintegration. Instead, disarmament
is an integral symbolic and practical element of
the demobilization process, of which it is often
an essential part. Yet it should be noted that
disarmament can also take place before, during
and after demobilization, and that it can be
separate from the latter process. For example,
if civilians turn in their weapons, disarmament
may not be part of a demobilization process; it
can also stand alone.
Gardez, Afghanistan (photo Kenji Isezaki)
The steps towards disarmament are:
(1) a weapons survey or weapons D for Demobilization
disclosures (often, in the past, the parties to the Demobilization may (but does not necessarily)
conflict have submitted weapons inventories include the establishment of camps and
which have usually been taken at face value by receiving areas where former combatants hand
the UN); in their weapons and where they receive, in
(2) weapons collection; return, counseling, vocational training or
(3) weapons storage; economic assistance.
(4) weapons destruction;
(5) weapons redistribution to national The fundamental steps of demobilization
security forces. are:
(1) planning
In principle, demobilization should (2) encampment
always include a disarmament phase. In fact, in (3) registration
many instances such as in Lebanon, Bosnia- (4) disarmament
Herzegovina or Haiti, demobilization (5) pre-discharge orientation
processes have not been accompanied by any (6) final discharge of ex-combatants.
meaningful disarmament. When disarmament

DDR Politics and Anti-politics / Les anciens combattants d'aujourd'hui

Of course, other factors such as the What DDR is not

political situation preceding demobilization
affect the chronological sequence and the In practice, DDR programs do not necessarily
relevance of individual steps towards incorporate all of the aforementioned
demobilization. interventions. Rather, donors and agencies
often choose what fits their mandates, political
R for Reintegration objectives and institutional capacities in any
Reintegration programs support the immediate given situation.
and medium term social and economic
inclusion of former combatants into their The language and terms of DDR are often
communities of origin or into new nebulous, ambiguous and sometimes poorly
communities. Reintegration initiatives are understood. An assortment of “D” and “R”
long-term processes which are supposed to combinations have been utilized and modified
take place on three levels: local, national and according to the preferences of individual
regional. However, the programs generally agencies. This may sometimes provide an
deal only with the short and medium term. advantage – allowing for flexibility in
operational planning, responses, and in
They include the following components: accessing the funds for operations which entail
- formulation of a national policy a high level of human, financial and
- support for regional implementation “reputational” risk. But this is also problematic
agencies because in adopting competing, often
- local level emergency aid, and transport contradictory, definitions of what DDR means,
to selected settlement regions there are often discrepancies between
- discharge payments stakeholder objectives, benchmarks, funding
- settling-in packages requirements, exit-strategies, etc. In many
- (re)construction projects and vocational cases, this explains why some agencies see
training. DDR as an “end” as opposed to a “means”.

DDR is not a “magic bullet” with the

potential ability to assist in almost every aspect
of the post-war rehabilitation and
reconstruction process. Nevertheless, greater
attention needs to be paid to the impact of
DDR on the reconstruction process. In that
respect, DDR cannot be simply treated as a
technical tool. DDR is about social
engineering; it is also about politics (see
Chapters 5 and 6).

CDF soldiers before disarmament, Sierra Leone

(photo Kenji Isezaki)

DDR Politics and Anti-politics / Les anciens combattants d'aujourd'hui

– III –

Combatants & Vulnerable Groups

Who is a combatant? The all-encompassing issue of re-

integration has much to do with collective self-
Military personnel engaged in peace operations images and the way local communities are
sometimes tend to look for constituted armies, involved in a process of social reconstruction
a hierarchy, and officers with whom to of the memories of violence. As revealed, for
negotiate. A significant number of fighters, instance, in the cases of Bosnia-Herzegovina
however, have little in common with the and Rwanda, the proportion of crimes
typical image of the professional soldier. This committed at the heart of the community, or
difficulty is at the heart of what DDR entails in even within single families, is often
most situations. In every single country, the underestimated. Frequently, perpetrators come
groups who are supposed to be the concern of from the same areas as those they assassinate
these programs are heterogeneous: the or mutilate. This ‘intimate crime’ obliges one
differences in their personal trajectories, to think in terms of symbolic modalities of re-
profiles and interests may reveal that they integration, taking into account cultural
actually have very little in common. DDR specificities, as exemplified by the rituals
programs, however, often tend to consider organized in Mozambique (see Chapter 9).
them as a single unified category.
The line between who is a combatant and
There are different ways of looking at who is a civilian is also blurred by the fact that
who a combatant is. While there is a tendency many combatants may actually be part-timers.
to identify combatants as a definite category, An additional difficulty in registering ex-
the reality on the ground shows that this is not combatants lies in the large diversity of
the case. militias and para-military groups. The creation
of village or district militias, of true self-
The construction of the “combatant/ defense movements, can initially be a response
civilian dichotomy” may differ from the to violence from ‘below’ or from the state, in
viewpoint of different groups within local circumstances when the state fails to provide
societies, but also as compared with the security to the people. But with more or less
perception of outsiders. In some instances, forced allegiance and manipulation, networks
combatants may be considered as heroes who rapidly become entangled. For as long as it
put their lives at risk to protect or liberate their continues, violence can become an opportunity
people. In the aftermath of a conflict, there in and of itself. It creates new values, makes it
might also be a tendency among people to possible to attain new sorts of status, and
consider that war has been the work of overturns hierarchies, while more or less
“others”, i.e. it has not been carried out by controlled disorder can be a cover for some to
members of one’s community, whereas, in pursue private economic interests. In many
most cases, combatants actually receive instances, increasingly, there is a porous
substantial support from various sectors of the distinction between constituted armies and
population. The difficulties and actual failure politico-mafioso militias, arising from
of individual compensation programs in many organized crime or from more localized
cases is strongly linked with this perception. functions. In the advent of a peace agreement,
Indeed, if those who were ‘bad guys’ seem a large number of these armed groups are not
more likely to receive lucrative resources, officially considered as protagonists of the
DDR may then appear as rewarding instigators conflict, and therefore evade inclusion in
of conflict, and sometimes even war criminals, programs. Similarly, a lack of emphasis on
particularly in situations where allowances for weapon holders not covered by DDR mandates
returning combatants are especially generous. (eg. civilians and militias) often constitutes a
Gauging the level of ‘reward’ is an issue that major flaw in many processes, especially in
also needs careful assessment of the local countries where “everybody is armed”
socio-economic context. according to common belief.

DDR Politics and Anti-politics / Les anciens combattants d'aujourd'hui

Who belongs to a “vulnerable group”? which they ought to benefit. In Lebanon, for
instance, women combatants could not be re-
More generally, whereas programs of integrated into the army and were therefore
assistance tend to make a distinction between disadvantaged. In Sierra Leone and Angola,
‘vulnerable groups’ (i.e. women and children), women and girl fighters were only classified as
and ex-combatants, in many recent conflicts “dependents”: their real experiences were not
combatants have also been women and acknowledged, and they were precluded from
children, sometimes even in large numbers. receiving the benefit provided to “combatants”.
Female ‘combatants’ can voluntarily or In many cases, because they do not fit social
forcibly support fighters as nurses, cooks, sex- stereotypes of what makes a ‘good woman’,
workers, or in administrative positions and they attract the greatest social opprobrium in
logistics. However, some of them also the post-war period. These women are most
participate in armed combat, as in Sri-Lanka, likely to slip through the net of DDR processes
Chechnya or Sierra Leone, to name recent and become either social outcasts who barely
examples. This is a group that may have very survive on the margins of society, or an
different attitudes to the possession and use of increased security threat in the subsequent
weapons. months and years. In Sierra Leone, the 2002
riots and female militia activities have
In some countries, groups of ‘part-time indicated that some young mothers had little to
bandits’ are made up of young boys and girls, lose from resorting to violence as a means of
for whom armed struggle has become a means survival.
of social ascent, as well as survival. In a
number of contemporary wars, they form a This also explains why little consideration
social group on their own, which needs to be is paid to the different dimensions of traumas
analyzed as such. In some cases (as in Ituri, in these women and children have experienced
East Congo), half of those fighting are during the war, as well as to the inherent
estimated to be under-age. modifications in their status and position in

Indeed, even if this is rarely admitted,

child soldiers can, for instance, have many
reasons to enroll in combat. They have the
chance to join a group within which
considerable power can be gained, especially
given their age; they are fed and nurtured in
circumstances where previously they may not
have been able to count on anyone for
sustenance; they are armed and therefore feel
immeasurably powerful. With their own
families scattered by war, children are often
intensely loyal to their fighting group, the
company of comrades-in-arms serving in some
measure as a substitute family. In Sierra Leone
or the Democratic Republic of Congo, for
example, some of the child soldiers
interviewed admitted that they were not forced
to enlist. In Sierra Leone, although the largest
group was undoubtedly made up of children
who were indeed forced to take part in actions
of war, those who were not forced by threats to
enlist faced the greatest difficulties in the
programs of social rehabilitation and in
Child soldier in East Congo (photo Khanh Renaud)
Many adult male ex-combatants are found
If neglected in the process of identifying to be vulnerable in the aftermath of conflict:
ex-combatants, women and children may be disabled, suffering different kinds of trauma,
disregarded by programs of assistance from and experiencing problems associated with
DDR Politics and Anti-politics / Les anciens combattants d'aujourd'hui

drug abuse, they often get little support to cope forces. As in Afghanistan today, every
with their different troubles. commander tends to inflate the number of his
men, to show political superiority and to draw
Leaders and followers more entitlement from the donors. In Kabul
and Mazar, the commanders made up smaller
The peace process generally sharpens the units for disarmament, by taking bits from
divergence of interests between the leaders and several military units. This is just one of the
their followers. For a peace mission, it is strategies that can be used to hide significant
essential to ensure a minimum level of forces and weapons.
cooperation on the part of military leaders,
whose power of obstruction is most serious. The situation is even more complicated
But in day-to-day matters the rank and file can when, as in Haiti, Afghanistan, Iraq, or in
present just as many problems to peace various places in Africa, local militias have
operations, especially in the demobilization been paid and armed by external powers. It is
phase and afterwards. In the cantonment even more the case in Afghanistan due to the
camps, demobilized soldiers often confess their war against terrorism. Such situations are very
feeling of having been “abandoned” by their difficult to manage in DDR programs, among
superiors. In Mozambique, the economic other reasons because former patrons are
package offered to the commanders bore little inclined to apply double standards to their
similarity to what was offered to the ordinary former clients, and are reluctant to reveal any
soldiers. In 1994, uprisings took place and information regarding the actual strength and
hostages were taken to put pressure on the UN composition of these forces.
mission. In October, on the eve of the
elections, former soldiers threatened to disrupt
the democratic process. In this country, the
association of demobilized regular soldiers
also included demobilized members of the
guerrilla force (RENAMO), united in similar
claims; a situation which is not uncommon.
The situation may be just as risky if soldiers
are demobilized but not their commanders, as
is the case in Afghanistan today. In the Afghan
military structure, officers often outnumber
full-time soldiers: in Kunduz, where a pilot
DDR was conducted, none of the officers had
been demobilized.
Kunduz, Afghanistan (photo Kenji Isezaki)
Furthermore, very few international
donors are prepared to pay for commanders
who may be war criminals. Consequently, What does ‘reintegration’ actually mean?
DDR programs have rarely budgeted for
reintegrating commanders. The question arises, The challenges of the individuals who are
therefore, how can a military unit be declared subjected to ‘reintegration’ and ‘conversion’
dismantled without dealing with its are multiple. They are supposed to ‘disarm’,
commander? What guarantee is there that but this does not only mean giving up their
demobilized soldiers will not be remobilized if weapons. Disarmament initiatives should
commanders are still at large? include elements designed to change attitudes
towards weapons, and should not just facilitate
The statistical gap their collection. How different people conceive
the ownership of a weapon in a specific
This complexity is partly reflected in the lack cultural and political context is very important
of reliable sources on the actual strength and in this respect. In many countries, to deprive a
composition of the different forces. The male inhabitant of his gun is like questioning
features of a military structure require a broad his virility. Moreover, for individuals who
and shared intelligence capacity. have been armed for a long time, their gun has
become a means of livelihood. This experience
Local interlocutors are not the most has transformed their frames of reference and
inclined to give an accurate picture of their
DDR Politics and Anti-politics / Les anciens combattants d'aujourd'hui

values. It has also created new networks of When violence and fear have become a
solidarity, new social structures, new strategies way of life, when war has become an ordinary
of survival, and new diffused and profoundly condition and no longer exceptional, everyday
internalized relational models. Furthermore, it life has been changed. Such a devastating
has induced a certain number of traumas. This fragmentation of social ties and individual
subjective atypical experience will not only conscience may contribute to the paralysis of
have an impact on the future lives of the ex- social rehabilitation as well as of peace
combatants, but also on their families. This building intervention, even after war is
implies that the programs of assistance include supposed to be over. In other words, it may
psycho-social support and counseling, which obstruct the reconstruction of a possible
should take due account of the cultural everyday life in communities that have lived
embedding of these dimensions. An ethno- through a long siege of violence and poverty. It
psychiatric approach is necessary in order to explains why it is normally not possible to
avoid frameworks and tools which may be think about the reintegration of former
totally alien to local forms and logics of social combatants outside of the community
ties, their transformations, and above all, the frameworks.
cultural strategies of dealing with death,
mourning, and suffering. As has been argued The complexity of getting a better sense
by some psychiatrists, it makes little sense to who the ex-combatants are and what their
speak of trauma, in the psychiatric or actual situation is means that more time is
diagnostic sense, outside precise historical, needed to plan DDR activities.
cultural and social contexts.

Colombia (photo ICRC)

DDR Politics and Anti-politics / Les anciens combattants d'aujourd'hui

– IV –

Local Communities & Local Knowledge

Community accountability and ownership left unconsidered. At the local level,

concrete avenues may be
Because reintegration implies a community, a conceptualized to deal with this.
group to ensure this process, ex-combatants (in ‰ It allows building on existing local
the broader meaning of this category) cannot customary structures, empowering
be considered without taking their families and communities to define their own
social ties into account. Since they are not objectives and identify collective
isolated from what is happening within the rest incentives that are generally more
of the society, the broadening of the DDR suitable than measures proposed by
framework is extremely challenging and not outsiders. The designation of weapons-
easy to ensure. Yet community consultation free zones by the communities
and engagement is, in fact, critical to themselves is a good example of such
successful and sustainable DDR: a process.
‰ It contributes to building up
accountability at the level of families Ex-combatants not (re)integrated back into
and communities – a way of ensuring communities (even new ones) often turn to
social control over former combatants. urban crime or fighting in regional conflicts,
This has to be understood as a creating additional security issues.
progressive process to be built up
while disarmament is under way. It is The incorporation of local communities is
made possible by the fact that even not an easy process. How are local
during war, the relations between interlocutors identified? How can one be sure
armed forces and local populations are of dealing with the real person in charge? Who
generally based on a combination of should be co-opted into the process? Are there
solidarity and coercion; which means sufficient resources in post-conflict
that local people have some leverage communities to absorb ex-combatants and
over ex-combatants. ensure their livelihoods? What has been the
‰ It must be linked to weapons collection community’s experience of conflict and how
programs in all sectors of society and does this impact upon reintegration? All this
long-term small arms reduction requires a clear understanding of the local
strategies. context as well as an integrated multi-
‰ It helps to provide balanced assistance disciplinary approach.
packages given to ex-combatants while
addressing the needs/perceptions of Local Contexts and Politics
communities they are coming back to,
and also prevents tensions over special It is very important to take local contexts and
treatment of ex-combatants upon their regional specificities into consideration in
return. It will probably need to include DDR processes. For instance, the relations
joint work schemes involving ex- among groups are generally very fluid and the
combatants and the community to switching of alliances is most often a function
rebuild trust and show that ex- of highly localized conditions, as are the
combatants are making a contribution rivalries and splits within each of the camps. In
to the community. Similarly, the fact, although the belligerents pursue diverging
sharing of some financial benefits political objectives, the pursuit of these can
from assistance packages that ex- depend, locally, on fluctuating alliances. This
combatants receive in the community demands an analytical capacity which is not
can assist in ‘reconciliation’. sufficient in current DDR programs, in spite of
‰ It should help deal with the impunity improvements over the last 15 years.
issue. Impunity is generally badly
understood and negatively perceived The effort has essentially to be directed
by local people, as their memories of towards field staff in charge of day-to-day
violence and their sense of justice are operations. Indeed, very small details can
DDR Politics and Anti-politics / Les anciens combattants d'aujourd'hui

derail the whole process; if no-one pays complain about. They are unable to effectively
attention to them, they may prove absolutely ascertain a broad picture of what is happening
decisive in spoiling a process. Everyone in a in the whole country, and act to some extent
field team– not just members of the mission’s blindly.
analysis or military intelligence units – must
continuously have at their disposal, at all Such an improvement in the accessible
stages of their work, relevant tools of analysis knowledge of local contexts and politics does
to understand and monitor what is changing in not assume years of study and expertise, but
the societies and communities in which they simply takes advantage of what various social
are working. Indeed, this daily work with science disciplines have to say about the
former combatants and the communities at situations under consideration, and using that
large requires the greatest flexibility, knowledge in a constantly updated operational
pragmatism, and capacity to adapt to volatile analytical approach,. Resort to a true trans-
contexts. The balance of power between the disciplinary approach (until now more readily
different military groups may change invoked than put into practice) would also
drastically from one region of a country to have the advantage of helping outsiders to re-
another. An approach may work in one link the individual and collective dimensions
neighborhood and not at all in the next because of concrete situations, especially when dealing
of differences in organizational structures, etc. with traumas caused by conflicts. It would
From this point of view, the closer one gets to finally help us to acknowledge the fact that
what constitutes the ordinary work of a DDR also has a legacy in most countries that
mission, the more important it becomes to have experienced various DDR processes in
understand the local situation. This assumes their history. In other words, it is not a
circulation of information in two directions: culturally neutral process.
from the head offices of the mission to the
teams deployed around the country, so as to Information and Communication Strategy
adjust general directives to the overall political
changes and make it possible for each Public information and sensitization campaigns
peacekeeper to be informed and aware of what need to be considered a priority, and must thus
is at stake at each stage of the DDR process; be provided with adequate resources.
and also from the field to the center, so that the However, these campaigns are rarely given any
overall management of the mission takes primacy in DDR programs. Such programs
account of the diversity of realities of should be based on an informed strategy to be
operations and their day-to-day fluctuations. applied through different means. First, efforts
Today, information sometimes goes ‘up’ but need to be made to develop a good relationship
rarely ‘down’. with the local media. Second, more attention
has to be paid to the quality of the material
This failure of analysis, at different levels produced for DDR programs. Even when
of a mission, has a number of consequences. missions have the means to produce videos,
First of all, it may explain the very technically- posters, brochures, leaflets, streamers and
oriented approach of some DDR programs. In banners to be put up in public places, it is
the absence of complete information to manage regarded as “superficial propaganda” (as local
the specificities of each situation, one tends to people themselves call it when interviewed)
become fixated on procedures and techniques. rather than part of a real information campaign.
One of the most worrisome consequences of In addition, it is not uncommon for that
the interventions that neglect local material to seem completely divorced from the
anthropological but also historical variables specific context and culture under
remains the inability to formulate effective consideration. The choice of images and
intervention strategies that adhere to the messages is crucial in this respect. This refers
specificity of local discourses and needs, to the to the basic management of the difference
complexity of the context, and to the dramatic between what people hear and what is actually
nature of events. Many NGOs and said (or intended to be said). One specific
international agencies have learned not to be aspect concerns the level of language used. In
surprised at the very limited participation of most languages, different repertoires exist, and
local populations who are unconvinced by the they need to be taken into account in any work
efforts of peacebuilding actions. At the head of of public sensitization. Even when a principal
the missions, those deficiencies also partly language is widely dominant, it is not
explain the lack of perspective officials often uncommon for the language spoken by the
DDR Politics and Anti-politics / Les anciens combattants d'aujourd'hui

majority of the population, especially in rural they see of the mission from their own
areas but also in the poorer districts of the positions and through the prism of their
cities and towns, to be noticeably different interests. It would obviously be unrealistic to
from the written language or the vernacular expect to achieve an understanding of the
used by the elite. In addition, errors of details of a mission’s mandate on the part of a
translation, sometimes with damaging local population as a whole. However, by
consequences, are not uncommon. These are largely neglecting the information dimension
basic factors to be considered in any effort to of their work, too many missions considerably
disseminate information. Yet in DDR increase the risk of being misunderstood.
programs, they are far from receiving the full Second, communication difficulties may
consideration they deserve. Last but not least, deprive DDR teams of a tool that can be very
it is crucial to get a harmonized message useful at certain critical stages of the process,
across. Sometimes, the messages given to the or indeed as possibly counteracting hostile
local people regarding disarmament efforts, for propaganda. Nevertheless, by doing so, one
example, are incoherent. It is also equally should not try to minimize the security
important not to raise false expectations, as problems, for instance, or to try to convince
some programs are tempted to do in their people that the situation has improved or that it
concern for ‘winning hearts and minds’. In this is worse in other countries. In places where
respect, the knowledge progressively such arguments were used, comments in the
developed by local teams should be exploited streets can be dismissive: “they take us for
by people in charge of the production of these idiots”. People may not feel safe because of
materials, so that they can contribute to their phobias, rumors, and false impressions, but
assessment and adequacy. questioning their subjective perception of
insecurity will not solve the issue. On the
Failure to establish such a communication contrary, it is a political reality and has to be
strategy may have two main consequences for acknowledged, analyzed and addressed as such
DDR programs. First, a lack of knowledge of through a consistent and informed
the program objectives creates unrealistic communication strategy.
expectations among the population. Without a
minimum of ‘objective’ information, people
form their own ideas, based primarily on what

East Congo (photo Khanh Renaud)

DDR Politics and Anti-politics / Les anciens combattants d'aujourd'hui

–V –

DDR as Social Engineering

DDR is a truly novel issue on the development ‘liberators’, as is the case in Iraq and
and security landscape. Emerging in earnest in Afghanistan.
the late 1980s (the UN’s first dedicated
disarmament operation took place in Namibia When disarmament is not undertaken, or
in 1989 as part of the UNTAG initiative), it has where it is unevenly applied (as is generally
now been applied as part of the standard ‘post- the case with arms retained in caches and
conflict package’ in dozens of conflicts. DDR supplied to adjacent countries), small arms
resides at the nexus of the security and frequently reappear in acts of organized and
development agendas, and has emerged as a spontaneous violence. They constitute genuine
critical tool in the development kit. DDR has threats to international, regional and domestic
been introduced as a ‘preventive’ intervention, security. For example, the contagion of such
as a core component of peace agreements, and weapons contributes to destabilizing effects as
as a post-conflict reconstruction initiative have been witnessed repeatedly in West
independent of formal peace deals. Most Africa, the Great Lakes, the Balkans and parts
interventions, however, fall short of truly of Latin America. Their availability presents a
articulating the different dimensions of DDR ready supply to networks of disenchanted but
processes. generally well-organized ex-combatants, so-
called militarized refugees, and organized
DDR and Insecurity: Issues in the criminal syndicates. Household and combatant
Aftermath of War surveys reveal that gun availability and
‘insecurity’, both real and perceived, act as key
Human security – defined as the real and drivers of acquisition.
perceived safety of people – often remains
precarious and even deteriorates in the troubled Harnessing Local Structures for DDR and
period after wars are officially declared over. If Practical Disarmament
the barometer of a ‘post-conflict’ situation is
greater security and guarantees of ‘protection’ DDR represents one approach among many to
for the civilian population, then it is a rare ensuring disarmament and some degree of
apple indeed. Post-conflict environments often ‘reintegration’ after the formal hostilities are
bear little resemblance on the ground to what is alleged to have ended. For example, coercive
implied in their definition. Rather, and deterrence-based interventions in post-
epidemiological evidence from studies carried conflict situations include forcible
out by the ICRC, the IRC, the Small Arms disarmament campaigns, short-term amnesties,
Survey, and others indicate that death and and the introduction and enforcement of stiff
injury rates often stay high (as in Afghanistan, legislative penalties to enforce compliance.
El Salvador, or Iraq). This is particularly the Other types of interventions seek to introduce
case when the issue of widely circulated small normative compliance through local peace
arms, light weapons, and unexploded agreements with voluntary disarmament and
ordinance is not effectively addressed as an reintegration clauses (as in Papua New
integral part of peace processes or as a Guinea), the declaration of weapons free areas
component of cross-border ‘interventions’. where civilian as well as combatant weapons
Armed violence is part of the new political are collected (as in South Africa and the
landscape, and civilians often make rational Solomon Islands), and even so-called
decisions to possess weapons because security “weapons for development” projects favored
is not ensured. In some instances, local by the UNDP (in over fifteen countries world-
situations may be defined as pre- and post-war wide).
at the same time. In this respect, outsiders may
have great difficulties accepting that local Lessons from coercive interventions are
people feel more insecure – in what often that they are capital and labor intensive, and
appears to be a power and security ‘vacuum’ – seldom sustainable. By contrast, interventions
than before the arrival of the peacekeepers or endorsing normative compliance, by building
on existing customary institutions, offer a

DDR Politics and Anti-politics / Les anciens combattants d'aujourd'hui

process that engenders ownership and ensures considerable numbers of weapons being
a degree of sustainability. They demand a shipped or exported – legally and illegally – to
greater appreciation and assessment of the insurgents, criminals and responsible gun
‘values’ and ‘norms’ of particular societies in owners alike, across porous borders. Moreover,
order to elaborate appropriate incentives and many of these fall into the ‘wrong’ hands. But
deterrents for disarmament. As in Papua New the reality is often a little more complex.
Guinea and the Solomon Islands, a classical Without more accountable procedures around
rational-choice approach which focuses on stockpiling, security and leakage – and even
‘individual’ incentives may miss the broader reconsidering the appropriate size and
‘collective’ dimension that drives community distribution of inventories – the problems that
decision-making and weapons possession. The DDR is attempting to address will recur.
“wontok” – which is basically a social mortar
binding clan and sub-clan groups together – is DDR has often been treated as a short-
strong, and acquisition and possession of a gun term measure designed to complement a
is strongly correlated with tribal fighting, ceasefire and demobilize people as quickly as
societal relationships, and other customary possible. The consequences of this have been
demands often not considered in more clearly illustrated in Iraq, where the Iraqi Army
technical disarmament and reintegration was disbanded by the US administrator in May
interventions. This illustrates the importance of 2003, and denied any security role – a decision
identifying local structures to ensure the that largely contributed to the rapid
legitimacy of the disarmament process and its proliferation of new militias and armed groups
effectiveness. This sensitivity to local based on religious, ethnic and tribal lines.
mechanisms also needs to include the
identification and use of local conflict The way the security apparatuses are
prevention/dispute mechanisms which can reformed is very important in this respect.
actually facilitate weapons reduction. Indeed, Reconstitution of former military groups into a
controls and policing are insufficient unless new force has often been a favored option.
tied to measures that remove the rationales for Selected soldiers from the various guerrilla
having weapons, akin to treating the symptoms groups in South Africa were merged into a
rather than the cause. Policing drives the illegal composite Defense Force. But this was not
activity underground, alternative channels are made conditional on the surrender of weapons.
used, and the poor who make money out of Consequently, redundant weapons were
transactions try something else, such as drug distributed for use in other African conflicts or
trafficking. used in the pursuit of crime. South Africa has
one of the most socially destabilizing gun
Lessons from the past also highlight the cultures in an economic environment where a
important role played by penalties and gun is as good as a job. In Kosovo, the Kosovo
deterrents – penalties that are enforced – to Liberation Army (KLA), a guerrilla force with
ensure compliance. In other words, some of its leaders and members linked to
‘deterrence’ and ‘normative compulsion’ can criminal networks and activities, was partly
and should work side by side. reconstituted as the Kosovo Protection Corps
(KPC). This option was chosen by the
To be sustainable, however, these international community as a way to keep them
interventions need to be complemented by under control while offering them a structured,
others, such as strengthening regulation around civil framework. It was also a pragmatic
legislation (often hopelessly outdated), imports solution for those who would not enter the new
and exports, as well as the more traditional local police (KPS) but refused to go back to
security sector reform issues tied to customs, civil life. And it was a way of coping with the
border patrols, domestic stockpile ambiguous mandate in UN Security Council
management, reform of the law and judicial Resolution 1244, which ruled out any Kosovo
sector, role and outreach of the police, human armed force. The difficulties were enormous
rights and IHL training, etc. All are vital to and the result remains controversial. This
ensure that DDR is sustainable. Indeed, the approach was proven to be partly successful in
majority of ‘illegal’ weapons acquired by the perspective of short/mid-term stabilization
combatants and criminals alike are of the situation. However, many observers
domestically sourced: from the formal security would argue that the KPC is merely a Kosovo
sector (military, police), politicians and army in the waiting, pending the definition of a
security companies. There are, of course, “final status” for Kosovo.
DDR Politics and Anti-politics / Les anciens combattants d'aujourd'hui

goes to veterans of the conflict and the families

In all cases, DDR needs a clear of deceased soldiers. In Republika Srpska, and
perspective for future internal security, and to a certain extend in Kosovo too, employment
thus has to be linked to security sector reform, priority has been given to veterans, as former
including the police (e.g. attitudes within the combatants are regarded as national heroes.
security forces need to change) if the state and Whatever the motives, however, the economic
society is to be fully demilitarized. impact has probably been to cushion society
against a return to violence. An additional
In other instances, ex-combatants may be example of the reluctance of donors to address
demobilized, but with the command structures this issue is the difficulty to get donors to pay
remaining intact and easily mobilized for non- for the Palestinian police force, consisting of
conventional combats, as with the civil defense former PLO fighters.
forces (CDF) in Sierra Leone or former
Baathist militias in Iraq today. Leaving the Another legacy of post-war situations is
military structure and the command chain informalization, and sometimes
together is a downsizing approach that most of criminalization. The link between DDR and
the military factions also tried to pursue in economic criminality needs to be explored. A
Afghanistan. In some cases, demobilized particularly instructive case in point has been
combatants rejoined the same faction. In other Mozambique, where the reintegration of
cases, the commanders harassed demobilized combatants was one of the most
combatants to get a ‘kickback’ from the comprehensive ever attempted. But partly
demobilization benefit. Downsizing is a because external actors were anxious not to
flawed, albeit common, approach of DDR. repeat the Angolan catastrophe, the program
concentrated exclusively on avoiding a return
Moreover, in all these instances, very little to violent conflict, and did not pay attention to
attention is paid to groups left out. In Haiti, in the way it was reinforcing the control of
1994, the members of the former army and militaries in certain economic sectors, as well
former para-military groups simply as activities linked to regional organized crime,
‘disappeared’ in society with their arms. In including the control of drug trafficking
Iraq, the Coalition dismissed almost 400,000 (Mozambique being used as a transit point).
soldiers, and initially refused to allow them to Generally speaking, former combatants,
keep their pensions, when at the same time including those reconstituted into post-conflict
most of them kept their weapons (only 10 % police and security forces, are particularly well
accepted to voluntarily hand them over to the equipped either to participate in criminal
Coalition). activities, or to take advantage of it in order to
generate income for the survival of their
Finally, the tendency to promote the families and communities.
development of a large private sector for
security not only infuses a certain form of The economic policies of deregulation,
social contract, but also hinders any privatization, deflation, and reduction in
accountability and democratic control over welfare, have the effect of ‘rubbing salt into
security forces. war wounds’. Consequently, the most
vulnerable sectors of society rely increasingly
The Economic Dimensions of DDR on ‘criminal’ or shadow economic activity. In
war conditions, ordinary people organize their
DDR is not easily compatible with policies economic activity to maintain as many of their
aiming at the liberalization of economies. It is assets as possible. When these are reduced,
well known, for instance, that when a peace they may well resort to illegal activities to
plan calls for demobilization and reintegration survive on a daily basis. One illustration of this
of former combatants, the IFIs also demand may be found in Sierra Leone, where former
reduction in the civil service payroll and combatants crossed the border to register in
general public expenses. But even for the more Liberia because they knew they would receive
welfare-oriented donors and agencies, the link better rewards for their guns there. The mixed
between DDR and economic development has results of weapons-buy back programs must be
not led to sustained programs. For instance, in considered in that perspective. Some of them
Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Office of the have actually stimulated demand for weapons.
High Representative has often complained Calculating the price offered for arms
about the proportion of public expenditure that surrenders, therefore, needs thoughtful
DDR Politics and Anti-politics / Les anciens combattants d'aujourd'hui

economic analysis in order to avoid any life is a common pattern of many DDR
distortions in the local and regional arms programs. Assistance packages are sometimes
markets. Disregard of the economic too restricted, and inappropriate livelihoods are
dimensions of weapons collection may help to targeted. A classic example is the provision of
keep mafia organizations in business. This assistance for ex-combatants to enter
issue also illustrates the importance of agricultural activities, even though they may
developing regional and sub-regional never have worked as peasants and may also
approaches to DDR, as are being gradually no longer be able to survive with that kind of
developed by UNDPKO in Africa. work. Others may not want to return to
farming because they see it as lacking prestige
Neglect of poverty reduction and public and think, probably mistakenly, that they could
welfare has affected the long-term economic get a ‘better’ job. Moreover, people often
sustainability of war-torn societies. In this move during the conflict from rural areas to the
respect, DDR needs to be integrated with city. As a result, a number of ex-combatants go
employment and general economic policies, as to fight in regional conflicts, and pose a
well as with security strategies. This aspect is potentially destabilizing element when they
easy to understand when one considers that, in return, as is particularly clear in Sierra Leone.
many post-war situations, as much as 70 % of This tendency is not limited to African
the local population may be unemployed. Post- contexts, as illustrated by the presence of ex-
conflict states with impoverished economies Yugoslav mercenaries in many ongoing wars.
offer little to reintegrate into. As a former
Mozambican combatant, cited by McMullin, One can thus perceive a very common
explained: ‘The government told us, “Now you pattern in most post-war situations where in
are all equally poor. You have been the absence of the minimum level of survival,
reintegrated back into basic poverty.”’ In that people need to cope with the impact of the war
country, for example, five years after the 1992 and the socio-economic consequences of, at
cease-fire 71% of all demobilized soldiers times, harsh reforms. These reforms can lead,
were still unemployed. In Angola, today, the among other things, to high levels of
death of Savimbi and the collapse of UNITA unemployment and reductions in health and
might ensure that the war is finally over. education spending, including in countries
Conditions in terms of reintegration for ex- where HIV is a major threat.
UNITA combatants are causing concern,
however, as many of them are impoverished The Necessity of Political Reconversion
and jobless with few employment prospects for
the future. In Sierra Leone, both CDF and RUF Military and para-military groups also pursue
rebel ex-combatants remain among some of the ideological and political goals. These also
most disadvantaged groups in terms of need to be converted in the course of the
employment, and there have been complaints conflict-resolution process. This should lead
that reintegration packages have been too short to putting politics back at the center of the
and directed at the wrong job skills. DDR process and to evaluating them with
different temporal perspectives.
Demobilization and reintegration are not only
an individual, but also a collective process.
The evaluation must take into account the
future of the former collective political group
that was the guerilla, and also the electoral
success of the political party, not only in the
first elections, but also in a medium to long
term perspective – meaning in a different
temporal perspective than the one scheduled
for the reintegration of former combatants in
the peace agreement. The success of a peace
process is, of course, based on the success of
Orientation and vocational training in Aghanistan DDR, but also on the position occupied in the
(photo Kenji Isezaki) new institutional arena by political parties
linked with former guerilla groups.
Poorly-directed training and assistance in
terms of returning ex-combatants to civilian
DDR Politics and Anti-politics / Les anciens combattants d'aujourd'hui

The political reconversion of former considered as an element of evaluation in DDR

guerrillas in political parties seems to be the programs. The percentage of participation in
logical result of a peace process: if guerilla elections by former combatants should also be
groups are political actors, they have a place in taken into consideration.
the institutional arena after their
demobilization. This was the conventional path A key element in the success of a peace
adopted, for example, in El Salvador, process is that violent conflict now finds other
Nicaragua, Guatemala, Mozambique, and modalities of expression in politics. This
Kosovo. However, in other instances, guerrilla clearly means that DDR has to be seen from a
groups have become depoliticized – as was the long-term perspective. This also means that the
Revolutionary United Front (RUF) in Sierra organization of elections in contexts where
Leone – due to the redundancy of its ideology DDR is far from being completed, such as in
after conflict, and the aversion of civilians to Afghanistan, may be highly counter-productive
the atrocities the RUF had committed. In peace for the mid-term evolution of a peace process.
agreements, the issue of political reconversion
is often marginal in comparison with the That combatants do not return to war is
technical aspects of DDR. Similarly, very little indeed important, but it is not sufficient. As
attention is usually paid to the actual change demonstrated in Iraq, unless DDR programs
and implementation of laws which may not can encompass other security, social, economic
favor former guerrillas and minority groups and political challenges that groups of ex-
that resorted to violence to achieve political combatants may pose, the local state capacity
aims. The reform of the constitution of to actually govern the country remains
electoral lists and the adoption of actual doubtful. As a consequence, not only the
incentives for political participation should be national but the regional stability may be put
a key in this respect. More generally, the under threat. This is exactly what the peace
transformation of a former armed group into a efforts – of which DDR is a part – are
new political party, or any other kind of supposed to avoid.
political actor resorting to democratic
mechanisms to achieve its aims, should be

East Congo (photo Khanh Renaud)

DDR Politics and Anti-politics / Les anciens combattants d'aujourd'hui

– VI –

DDR as Politics
Whereas DDR has historically been overseen authorities), and the nature of the agreement on
by peacekeeping operations, it is increasingly the basis of which DDR proceeds, all make a
taken on by mainstream development agencies. difference. It is in this blurred environment and
As with ‘development’ more generally, DDR with these ambiguities that international
is coming to be interpreted as a technical and agencies intervene and deploy their various
‘apolitical’ intervention, and may even be programs, with their own ideology,
perceived as a way to avoid dealing with root vocabulary, and techniques. Their work is even
causes in armed countries – e.g. the more complicated by the traditional division of
production, export and import of weapons, labor between the diplomats and the
aspects of governance and accountability, and operational staff who work more closely on the
so on. However, DDR is about politics as well issues of DDR; the former do not always know
as it is about social engineering. how to negotiate the elements of DDR in a
realistic and effective way.
This chapter will deal with two specific
political dimensions of DDR programs: No progress will be achieved on the
‰ The way the concerns of DDR are ground if key advice cannot be better
integrated by decision-makers when integrated at different stages of the decision-
intervening in a conflict resolution making process. This could be facilitated by
process; the presence of a technical committee based in
‰ The way the international community UNDPKO. Decision-makers could call upon
actually commits itself to DDR this for guidelines about their options, the
programs, particularly through long-term impact of their decisions, the
funding. different priorities between different and
sometimes competing aims, as well as issues of
DDR and political commitment timing. As short term benefits seem to be more
important than long term solutions in current
Analysts have long insisted on the necessity of world politics, it is the responsibility of the UN
getting a political commitment, a clear Secretariat to provide the governments of
mandate and involvement from the member states with serious and consolidated
‘international community’ in DDR programs. information as well as analysis, so that they
Much of this is often absent. can be conscious of, and hopefully willing to
minimize, the potential negative impacts of
The interests of international and local their decisions.
actors can either coincide in favor of DDR, or
can alternatively work to minimize the actual
impact of programs in the field. The
motivations of local politico-military actors
may be to seek a limit to the impact of DDR
measures, and to ensure that these do not cause
any alternation in the basis of their power and
the redeployment of the numerous lucrative
activities they may have been engaged in
during the conflict. On the part of the
‘international community’, DDR procedures
are generally seen as ‘risky’ politically (there
is a great chance of failure) and for the safety
of the mission staff. Of course, the DDR issue
is not raised the same way if it is part of a
Kashmir (photo ICRC)
peace agreement, if one party is winning over
the other, or if it comes after an international
intervention. The modalities of conflict
settlement, the respective strength of the main
actors in the conflict (particularly the ruling
DDR Politics and Anti-politics / Les anciens combattants d'aujourd'hui

DDR and funding building. Too often, however, very superficial

short-term action on disarmament and
“A DDR policy must, first, rely on the demobilization seems to please donors, rather
international community’s will and the than long-term action heading towards actual
provision of appropriate means”. This claim, reintegration in all its dimensions. No
made by many officials who have been in sustainability can be ensured while donors’
charge of DDR programs, points to the fact engagements remain short-term. To avoid this
that without defined objectives and means, difficulty and guarantee a minimum of
mere rhetoric is often rather counterproductive continuity, one option could be that the
and discouraging. A main concern is that financing of reintegration programs becomes
donors are not serious about funding the part of the UN regular budget, and is no longer
developmental component of DDR. The dependent on voluntary contributions. More
international community tends to forget about importantly, to make it sustainable, it should
long-term reintegration processes very quickly. be quickly included into war-torn societies’
Certainly, disarmament and demobilization national budgets in order for local states to be
may play an important role in stopping the responsible for these aspects.
fighting and allowing the beginning of peace

DDR Politics and Anti-politics / Les anciens combattants d'aujourd'hui

– VII –

Monitoring & Assessment Processes

A Permanent Monitoring System necessary to produce a DDR process in the

first place. These discrepancies depend both on
Whereas some progress has been made in the the international and local political context in
evaluation of UNPKOs, much remains to be which the specific operation has been decided,
done on pre-assessment and actual monitoring and on how the intentions of key actors have
of the socio-political contexts and been channeled into this process.
consequences of DDR programs. In each
operation, a few key factors and indicators In many instances, the ‘international
should be identified, and concrete tools should community’ aims at stabilizing the situation in
be given to DDR teams so they can monitor the short to mid-term, as was the case in
and report on the way DDR actually works on Kosovo, and not necessarily promoting an
the ground. actual resolution of a conflict, something
usually more demanding and painful.
This should be part of a comprehensive
monitoring and verification system of the Conflicting objectives in the short and mid-
dynamics engendered by a DDR program in a term
given state, as well as in its regional
environment, when such connections are The agendas of political leaders generally carry
important to consider. This work should be plenty of weight, and this may play in favor of
conducted in close cooperation with other short-term imperatives and superficial
agencies involved in activities directly or programs that are not sustainable. Many police
indirectly related to DDR. Currently, the focus programs have resulted in a few weeks of very
of most evaluations tends to be on the number superficial training. The same kind of concerns
of guns returned or people relocated. More explain the lack of long-term policy at the
intangible, but equally important, issues relate international level and its immediate
to community victimization, security, and consequence: a lack of consistency and
long-term development prospects. These, continuity, sometimes even from one UN
unfortunately, are often glossed over. Security Council resolution to another.

Realistic deadlines should also be set from The UN Secretariat or the field teams
the beginning, and revised if necessary on the cannot solve contradictions and ambiguities
basis of the results of the verification process. that are not of their own making. But they need
to take them into account and develop
About Success and Failure strategies to manage them, as they have no
choice but to act in this blurred environment.
There are no agreed parameters for what This means than in the actual planning,
constitutes success or, alternatively, failure in monitoring and successive evaluation of their
DDR. In all cases, it is a way of measuring work, they need to consider the distinction
objectives which are not always clear, set between short, medium and long-term
down or explained because they are divergent objectives, and to anticipate the contradictions
and contradictory. For instance, when they this may create.
agree on a DDR program, local and
international actors generally have quite
different sets of objectives, for the short, mid-
and long terms. But these ambiguities are often

DDR Politics and Anti-politics / Les anciens combattants d'aujourd'hui

– VIII –


Practitioners working in war and post-war

situations face ethical issues that are partly the An additional difficulty comes from the
lot of any social worker. These are, however, fact that practitioners will be confronted by
exacerbated when engaged in situations of contradictory memories and accounts that
violence. In the field, each person has to design differ or are unspeakable or even impossible to
and implement a code of ethics. This should be reconstruct. Contradictory depictions and
the subject of discussions among the teams and images usually form around acts of violence.
agencies working on DDR, and in the training Different myths are conjured up, offering
of field staff. Several elements should be varying interpretations of the event, including
considered. the most ‘delusional’. Key information
concerning the conflict, who are/were the
Working with people who have been victims and the ‘evil-doers’, what and where
directly implicated in violent events (as are the arms in circulation, will be difficult to
victims, as perpetrators, as bystanders) is obtain or manipulated. Sometimes, one will
demanding and often painful from a find as many explanations and stories as there
psychological as well as a moral and ethical are persons encountered. Under such
viewpoint. Ideally, it entails critical analysis of circumstances, practitioners have to heed
each DDR staff member’s underlying different reactions. When a field worker does
perceptions of those situations: constantly not know what he is ‘witnessing’, He or she
examining the images that work on one’s own might tend to (re)present an undifferentiated
conceptions of peace and war, violence and, round of suffering, a carnival of horror, that
even more so, the ‘unthinkable’. The conflicts will exclude any consideration of its political
of the last 15 years have all too often tended to or social dimensions. She may also be tempted
be characterized as irrational, inexplicable, to ‘rework’ the account in order to overlay her
more violent, or more “barbarous”. Such own ‘authentic’ version of the facts, or may
qualifiers generally serve to denote not the quite simply construct her own narrative.
dark part of every human being, but rather the There is also a risk that this version or
behavior of the ‘other’. It is most often, albeit narrative might ‘simplify’ situations that are
unconsciously, linked to a desire to distance highly complex. But sometimes the mind is
oneself, as if to reassure through emphasizing impervious to any call on it to envisage those
difference. In many instances in which DDR situations in their complexity, or indeed to
programs are to be implemented, many of the envisage them at all. In the face of horror or
individuals concerned do not correspond to the acts of pure savagery that defy understanding,
conventional image of a soldier, and most of there can be no ‘meaning’. Even attempting to
the stories heard by practitioners appear as find any meaning or to ‘understand’ can seem
mere manifestations of barbarism. Practitioners appalling – just as it can be appalling to hear
must remain conscious of this, and be able to oneself saying that the victim/perpetrator
also consider the individuals they will meet, dichotomy may not be sufficient. Yet
register, and perhaps disarm, as human beings. simplification is rarely a good guide.
This sometimes means a sharp clash between
monstrous deeds and the human face of their Moreover, the frameworks of analysis and
perpetrators. Most of the people that intervention of most programs of assistance are
practitioners will work with will be “ordinary greatly influenced by the catch-all,
people”. In their eyes and to their ears, one’s undifferentiated image of the victim as civilian
vision and words as an outsider will appear as and passive. It is not always easy to maintain a
though it represents the view of a world from momentum between the collective dimension
which they were ‘expelled’ at the time of the and the individual dimension, between mass
tragedy. It is too much to put on an tragedy and personal tragedy, between the
individual’s shoulders, but each individual in history of a child as a victim and as a former
the DDR team will have to cope with this. soldier who may have committed atrocities.

DDR Politics and Anti-politics / Les anciens combattants d'aujourd'hui

Also, a genuine effort has to be made to dimensions of the investigative process. This is
perceive the local ‘others’ as capable of being particularly evident when reference is made to
something other than victims, capable of concepts or categories that do not always have
asserting themselves – at least partially – as direct equivalents in the host countries’
actual participants in re-evaluating their languages. Working with issues relating to war
situation and commenting on it. Practitioners and peace and respecting the integrity of the
must cease to consider the local people either person can complicate matters. One often tends
as passive recipients of their largesse, or as to reduce such questions to the dialectics of the
potential obstacles to the smooth progress of universal and the particular. The actual
their work. Practitioners will never achieve challenge is much more basic than this: is an
their work without them or against them, but individual capable of fully understanding what
only with them. their interlocutor is saying to them, what is
important in the interlocutors’ eyes and not in
Being in the position of an “outsider” (a the practitioners’ own? More often than one
person outside a group with which one’s might think, staff working on DDR issues may
relations are strongly asymmetrical) also be the first person to whom fragments of a
immediately places one in a position of power; story are told. The staff needs to have a
one needs to assess the actual consequences of minimal level of training in psychological
this with regard to interaction with the former issues in order to be prepared to face such
combatants and the communities. The way compelling situations. The staff may also
practitioners first appear in a village, initiate involuntarily engender false hopes or raise
the dialogue or ask questions, may have a great unrealistic expectations. Their position in the
impact on what will happen afterwards. In that field is in fact formed interactively. It depends
respect, participatory methods can be as much on how they themselves view their
important, not for the information that they place and their role and portray these to their
yield or the direct contribution they will make interlocutors, as on how the latter perceive
to the DDR program, but because they will them. Their task may be misunderstood. They
enable relationships of trust to be forged. can also, under certain circumstances, actually
Those working with children (including child alter the power relationship simply by their
soldiers) in a context of war are aware that, presence, and they may even be “used” by
even beyond the social codes governing different groups.
relationships with adults, who, moreover, are
outsiders, it may be more important simply to The preparation, pre-briefings, continuous
play with the children, spend time with them, training, monitoring and debriefing of
rather than wanting to force them to talk. missions’ staff should be a priority. This
should include specific psychological support
Having to use an interpreter or other so that the staff can anticipate and deal both
intermediary is also a determining factor. It with their own reactions, and with the reactions
means working with the intercultural of their interlocutors in the field.

DDR Politics and Anti-politics / Les anciens combattants d'aujourd'hui

– IX –

From the Field

Reports are full of lessons learnt from negative Solomon Islands
outcomes. Instead, this chapter will highlight
some positive experiences which exemplify The Solomon Islands’ National Peace
how innovative approaches may help to Council’s Weapons-Free Village Campaign
improve current DDR practices. aims to garner public support for “weapons-
free” status in more than 1,200 villages in the
Albania conflict-affected provinces of Guadlcanal and
Malaita. The multi-year project, supported by
In the aftermath of civil unrest in Albania in the UNDP among others, is complemented by
1997, the government requested that UNDP an initiative to demobilize Special Constables
implement a DDR program. The project took and militants, and to assist them in their long-
place in the district of Gramsch, where there term reintegration. Moreover, the program
were an estimated 10,000 illegal weapons harnessed village leaders, police, and church
among a population of 50,000. With no readily authorities in recognition of the importance of
identifiable military actors, the weapons collective decision-making associated with
collection program focused on collective various tribal and clan subgroups in Solomon
incentives for individual weapon return. In a Island society. Its relative success, measured
region of high unemployment levels, the by a demonstrated reduction in firearms-
program rewarded voluntary surrender of related homicides and injury as well as
weapons with participation in community insecurity, is the product of deliberate support
development projects. The largely labor- to customary institutions, and the harnessing of
intensive and infrastructural projects helped particular values and norms of the
generate employment. The “weapons for communities involved to promote the goals of
development” approach was supported by local DDR.
NGOs who, through media campaigns,
advocated the voluntary handover of arms. Papua New Guinea
Altogether, the program’s success came from
the linkage of DDR aims with assisting Following the explosion of violence in the
communities in meeting their specific Southern Highlands of Papua New Guinea
development needs. from 1998 onwards, a number of interventions
have sought to promote weapons reduction and
In collaboration with the UNDP, reintegration among competing tribal factions.
UNIFEM developed a pilot project aimed at In the absence of a strong deterrence (e.g.
increasing the role of women in the “Weapons police or defense forces), much less a clear
for Development Program” (1998-2002) in the government commitment to improving safety,
districts of Gramsch, Elbasan and Diber. local initiatives mediated by stakeholders such
Women in the pilot project reported an as faith-based and women groups, as well as
increase in their knowledge of disarmament, development agencies, have quietly emerged.
and therefore their capacity to assist the
authorities in accessing and collecting
weapons. They commented that they
understood disarmament from a more
comprehensive perspective, not just as a means
to reduce criminality, but also as a means for
communities to make political, social and
economic progress. They also felt that their
participation in family decision-making
processes had been improved because their
preparation gave them a more authoritative
opinion on family and community security
matters. Some women asserted that they could
now deal more effectively with local Papua New Guinea (photo Robert Muggah)
authorities, including the police.
DDR Politics and Anti-politics / Les anciens combattants d'aujourd'hui

Between 2001 and 2002, an informal “Peace In addition, in order to ensure the
Agreement” was brokered between two tribes sustainability of the reintegration support, the
– the Wogia and Unjamap – and a “Mendi focus was on individual support to each ex-
Peace Commission” was chaired by local combatant. Individual sustainable reintegration
businessmen along with the bishops of both the solutions were thus supported (mainly micro-
Catholic and United Churches. A transparent enterprises), instead of group projects of a
process of reconciliation was organized to transitory nature (high intensity main d’oeuvre
cement the Peace Agreement. Both tribes projects), which since Mozambique have –
sought forgiveness in public ceremonies, wrongly – become the norm. The result was a
repeating their vows to cease all hostilities, to 65% survival rate of micro-enterprises, versus
allow freedom of movement, and to respect about 30% for the Mozambique reintegration
tribal boundaries. Commitments were signed projects, and even lower rates elsewhere
(and enforced) to “dismiss” mercenary (although many programs were never
gunmen, entrust all firearms to the control of evaluated).
tribal leaders, cease the public display of
offensive weapons, and cooperate with police In addition to the collection of over 4,000
to contain alcohol and drug abuse. More than high-powered weapons and the reintegration of
two years after a public ceremony attended by several thousand ex-combatants from three
more than 10,000 people, the Mendi Peace militia, victimization surveys in the capital
Agreement has survived without any serious indicate that the interventions fostered a degree
breach. of confidence in the nascent peace process.

Congo Brazzaville Congo Brazzaville experimented a full

DDR program with no peacekeepers and no
In this country, the reintegration benefits were cantonment. It simply worked through a
used as the incentive for disarmament, but network of offices, and showed that
instead of a fixed number of weapons for cantonment is not a technical DDR
access to benefits, as is the norm, priority requirement, but rather a security-related
access to the program benefits were given to decision by peacekeepers.
those who turned in weapons – thereby not
excluding those without weapons, but forcing Mozambique
those that had to turn in at least one. For future
cases, we learned that the optimal approach In Mozambique, mediums and traditional
would be to have an “open bidding” process healers (kimbanda) helped with the peaceful
for this priority access – the greater the number reintegration of former combatants and former
of weapons, the higher the priority. child soldiers, through purification rituals
involving the whole community. Referring to
concepts of pollution and purification, they not
only made it possible to designate and describe
the period of violence as ‘abnormal’, as
‘unacceptable’, but also to redefine the rules
indispensable for the group’s coexistence and
survival. These actions demonstrate the
success of strategies which are deeply rooted
in the social and cultural context, and take into
consideration the subjective and psychiatric
dimensions of the re-integration process.
Whereas the Reintegration Support Scheme
(RSS) employed by the UNDP probably
helped combatants become reintegrated in their
communities by providing them with a steady
source of spending, most observers consider
the role played by traditional healers as key in
some of the “success stories” registered in that

Mozambique (photo ICRC)

DDR Politics and Anti-politics / Les anciens combattants d'aujourd'hui

Sierra Leone

The formal DDR program in Sierra Leone was

incorporated into the 1999 Lomé Agreement.
Disarmament initially started in 1998,
organized by the National Committee for
Disarmament, Demobilization and
Reintegration (NCDDR). The NCDDR worked
in collaboration with UNAMSIL and was
supported by the World Bank, international
institutions, and NGOs. The difficulties
presented in disarming combatants emanated
from a lack of trust between Government and
RUF forces, the personal significance a
weapon provided to an individual, and the
importance such ownership entailed in gaining
access to the country’s resources. Despite these
obstacles, the program was largely successful
in ensuring that combatants did not return to
conflict, although large numbers of weapons
were thought to be uncollected and hidden in Sierra Leone. RUF soldier hammering his AK after
arms caches. Its success stemmed from using disarmament (photo Kenji Isezaki)
DDR as a complement to the peace agreement,
but more so from recognizing the actual This was seen through the Community Arms
conditions in the country, even though they Collection and Destruction (CACD) program.
deviated from the framework of the Lomé The program was instigated in 2001 as a
Agreement, and from applying the appropriate follow up to formal DDR, and in part
measures under a flexible policy framework represented recognition that there were gaps in
design. DDR established its legitimacy through it. Indeed, there were large numbers of
inclusion in the peace agreement, but was weapons unaccounted for amongst civilians,
applied in a realistic manner. and there were fears of criminality/insecurity
in communities. It was also supposed to
alleviate the concerns of RUF over the
collection of weapons not part of the original
DDR process. Furthermore, the actual
destruction of weapons stood out in the Sierra
Leone program, as weapons were generally
destroyed at the community level to increase
people’s confidence in disarmament. The
procedure was finalized in a symbolic burning
of about 3,000 weapons on January 18th, 2002,
at Lungi Town.

DDR Politics and Anti-politics / Les anciens combattants d'aujourd'hui

Selected Bibliography
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Farr, Vanessa. “The importance of a gender perspective to successful disarmament, demobilization and
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Women Waging Peace, Policy Commission case studies, particularly the one on Sierra Leone.

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