South Sudan

Time for Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR) in South Sudan


Launch of new DDR programme calls for renewed debate on ensuring security in South Sudan

Following decades of civil war South Sudan achieved independence from Sudan in mid-2011 as the culmination of a long peace process. Both the Government of South Sudan and international donors consider a successful Disarmament Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) program a prerequisite for successful stabilization, peace and development in Africa’s newest nation state. In spite of the challenges encountered during the first phase of DDR (2005-2012) and the meagre results achieved, a second phase DDR for some 150,000 personnel is now to start the 15th of April. It calls for an evaluation of past experiences and the prospects for a successful DDR program in the future.

This report written by Jairo Munive explores the DDR programme in South Sudan 2005-2012; in particular how it has evolved, what the major challenges have been to its implementation and, finally, what can realistically be expected from renewed efforts to disarm and reintegrate fighters vis-à-vis security imperatives on the ground.

The basic argument presented is that standard DDR programmes – or rather the conventional peace and security templates that characterise them – are not fit for purpose in a context like South Sudan. This is so because achieving security in the country goes beyond DDR and is not related to the ‘rightsizing’of the South Sudanese Armed Forces/ Sudan People’s Liberation Army nor to the ‘reintegration’ of combatants. Rather, as the report argues, it will depend on a serious engagement with the following twofold task: firstly, to comprehend and eventually change the basic structures and mechanisms of armed mobilisation prevalent in South Sudan and, secondly, to understand and adapt security sector reform to a political environment that is constructed in terms of potential for violence and threats of destabilisation.