Events

Disarmament, Demobilization and Reconstruction: What Does it Mean for the Policy Practitioner?

July 25, 2002 // 12:00am

The meeting was co-sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and the Wilson Center's Conflict Prevention and Africa Project, with Elon Weinstein, Foreign Affairs Office, Office of Contingency Planning and Peacekeeping, Bureau of Political and Military Affairs.

Demobilization, demilitarization and reintegration (DDR) of armed factions are important components of post-conflict scenarios. On July 25th, the Conflict Prevention and Africa projects of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars joined with the Office of Contingency Planning and Peacekeeping, Bureau of Political-Military Affairs at the U.S. Department of State to examine ways to improve DDR efforts and discuss how key factors to DDR's successes could be transformed into policy recommendations.

Jill Chenok from Analytic Services Inc. (ANSER) presented the DDR process in Africa, focusing specifically on 4 country case studies: Zimbabwe in the late 70s – early 80s; Mozambique in the early 90s; Ethiopia in the early 90s; and Liberia in the mid 90s. The study, prepared for the Office of African Affairs, International Security Affairs, U.S. Department of Defense, found eight critical factors for successful DDR implementation: 1) political will; 2) resolution of major grievances; 3) strategic commitment; 4) credible central authority; 5) the transfer of conflict command structure and support of civilian social structure; 6) economic motivations; 7) conducive geo-strategic environment; and 8) long term demilitarization. The ANSER study highlighted several U.S. government (USG) processes and international DDR issues as important areas for improvement. Specifically, the USG might improve national and international programs by promoting coordination and funding mechanisms, eliminating statutory restrictions, increasing HIV/AIDS prevention efforts, supporting economic motivations and alternatives to conflict, and by employing a more strategic vision, she said.


Panelist Howard Wolpe, former Presidential Special Envoy to Africa's Great Lakes Region, suggested that the United States and others support a regional policy focus in the Congo. Security reforms based on a newly reintegrated national army are also necessary before DDR can work successfully. A lead nation or organization, possibly the United States, must be in charge of this effort and provide for the technical and financial aspects associated with reintegration of the armed forces. However, such involvement is not the norm and furthermore, the legislative inhibition of USG involvement (i.e. assistance to transition governments) undermines the DDR process, he said. The necessity for non-capital centered strategies allowing for interactions with non-capital entities also represents a need to overcome legislative inhibition. This is especially important in scenarios where the central government has very minimal legitimacy. Citing ineffective coordination among donors, Dr. Wolpe suggested the World Bank might lead DDR efforts, thereby partially mitigating the sluggishness plaguing the aid community. Finally Dr. Wolpe emphasized the need to examine effective coercive mechanisms. Recalling the time he attempted to persuade Rwandans and Ugandans through voluntary disarmament rather than on forcing combatants to disarm, he noted they were not very successful. In his opinion, the lack of coercive mechanisms actually discouraged voluntary disarmament.

Ambassador Roger Noriega, the U.S. Permanent Representative to the OAS, stressed four lessons in DDR learned from the Commission for Support and Verification's (CIAV) experience in Nicaragua in the early 90s. First, all key actors should be involved in the early planning phases of the DDR mandate. Next, future DDR missions should have clear oversight capability to ensure compliance. Third, reliable funding sources are imperative. Finally, demobilization must ensure personal security and economic welfare to the demobilized forces. Despite lacking a clear mandate, oversight capability, and reliable funding, CIAV and their DDR effort did have some positive effects. The Ambassador recounted when he visited a village of more than 10,000 reintegrated combatants and their families who weren't receiving government services because the government was unaware of the village's existence. CIAV, using its strong logistical capacity, was able to provide support to the villagers. In addition, the Commission registered 240,000 Nicaraguan voters, a number that proved to be decisive in the 1996 national elections, he said.

Scott Feil and Johanna Mendelson-Forman from the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) discussed how the current DDR dialog relates to AUSA's research of post-conflict reconstruction (PCR). Their work has found that successful DDR programs are necessary factors to prevent keep post conflict countries from slipping back into conflict and such efforts must involve in all aspects of PCR (justice, governance, security, and socio-economic issues). Focusing specifically on security, Scott Feil discussed how to best deal with the military/paramilitary forces that had been involved in the conflict. He proposed instituting some sort of 19th century military-parole system, resembling what is used in present day East Timor, to keep track of, and make sure, former combatants are being re-integrated into society. Relocating combatants, particularly young ones, away from close proximity to their former unit and comrades, might further sever the military structure, he suggested.

Johanna Mendelson-Forman's examination of DDR in PCR settings highlighted the need for good socio-economics practices. Social issues such as care for former female combatants and the prevention of HIV/AIDS are crucial to successful DDR, she said. Furthermore, "DDR is about economics" and "people go to war...because there are very few alternatives," demonstrate the necessity for better economic policies, Dr. Forman stressed.

During the discussion one audience member asked if, in order to preserve long-term stability, former combatants should be reintegrated into the military, although it would increase rather than downsize the military. Dr. Mendelson-Forman cited the South Africa case, but noted that the upsizing did eliminate the peace dividend. Two more issues raised included which types of coercive mechanisms should be employed, and whether the international community should pursue more actively arms destruction. Mr. Feil noted RAMP is examining the creation of an integrated security force that has the ability to coerce spoilers. Finally, he concluded that demilitarization in the strictest sense of the word included destruction of weapons and equipment.



To receive a copy of the ANSER report please e-mail Jill Chenok at jill.chenok@anser.org. You can also obtain the report online from the Office of the Secretary of Defense, International Security Affairs, Office of African Affairs (OSD/ISA/AFR). The address for the African Affairs web page is http://www.defenselink.mil/policy/isa/africa/afrindex.html, select New 2002 Study "Critical Factors in Demobilization, Demilitarization and Reintegration: An Analysis of Ethiopia, Liberia, Mozambique and Zimbabwe." For more information on the Post-Conflict Reconstruction Project, please see www.pcrproject.org.

Written by Eddie Onaga with Anita Sharma, Deputy Director, Conflict Prevention Project,
202-691-4083

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