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G8 Conflict Prevention: Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration

June 13, 2002

  1. Introduction

    The G8 Miyazaki initiative on "Small arms and light weapons" (SALW), emphasised the central importance of "Disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration" (DDR) in post-conflict situations. The initiative on "Conflict and development" recognised that peace and democratic stability are prerequisites for economic growth and sustainable development.

    DDR is an important example of how this may work in practice. Once combatants cease to be involved in conflict and are reintegrated into society, substantial progress can be made towards the creation of a safe and secure environment thereby enabling poor communities to build better lives and work their way out of poverty. DDR thus makes a key contribution to peace building and sustainable development.

    But reintegration is not only the end-result of disarmament and demobilisation. It is also the key to ensuring that disarmament and demobilisation take place in the first place and are maintained in the long term. As the Brahimi Report noted, demobilised fighters "tend to return to a life of violence if they find no legitimate livelihood, that is, if they are not "reintegrated" into the local economy". For this to happen successfully, both ex-combatants and the local community must feel secure, and there must be opportunities for employment that can be sustained in the long term. New work on DDR is beginning to recognise that DDR not only paves the way for development, but also relies on long-term development for its own success.

  2. Conditions for successful DDR

    Past experience suggests some essential pre-conditions for successful DDR: a peace agreement with genuine commitment from all parties to the conflict; proper co-ordination and clear unambiguous leadership within the group of actors involved in DDR; and the personnel, material and financial resources to make it work. DDR could take place in the context of a peacekeeping operation mandated by the UN Security Council. In this regard, the Brahimi Report recommended improved co-ordination between the relevant UN agencies and a greater role for DPKO in DDR. But there may also be occasions where regional organisations and NGOs can play a valuable role in DDR as part of post-conflict peace-building.

  3. DDR

    The availability of weapons and the resulting insecurity can have an adverse effect (both humanitarian and socio-economic) on the stability and development of a country. A key part of any DDR process is disarmament; weapons clearly need to be under the strictest of control and where appropriate, destroyed. Previous disarmament initiatives have had varied, often limited success. As part of its Miyazaki initiative on Small Arms and Light Weapons the G8 recognised that the availability of weapons, especially small arms and light weapons is an important factor in exacerbating conflict and that disarmament is therefore a priority. Unless another form of disposition has been officially authorised and such weapons have been marked, effective provisions for the collection, control, storage and destruction of SALW should be included in peace agreements.

    But it is also particularly important to ensure that peace settlements include sufficient, preferably non-cash incentives to give parties the confidence to disarm in the first place. Ideally reintegration should offer incentives to soldiers to return to civilian life, including access to health and education programmes. There is a particular need to recognise the special requirements of women and child-combatants. But many who enter post-conflict DDR processes will want to rejoin the security forces, either police or military. Therefore a broader security sector reform is often critical in enabling the development of disciplined security forces accountable to civilian authority. Provisions should also be made for the rehabilitation of victims, many of whom are women and children. Broadly speaking, reintegration incentives should focus on the establishment of a visibly successful, long-term reintegration programme, which goes beyond military intervention and emergency humanitarian assistance into long term development assistance.

  4. Conclusions

    Recognising that it is important to see DDR in the wider context of peace building and development, the G8 endorses the importance of DDR as a key step in the process of moving from conflict to sustainable development.

More specifically:

Source: Canada. Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade


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