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The Role of Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration Programs in Post-Conflict Reconstruction: Some Lessons Learnt



1.1 Security is more than just the stability of a state and its government. It includes the security of life of individuals and their property i.e. freedom from fear. In all its forms, security is an important aspect of sustainable development and plays a critical role in reducing poverty and addressing human rights in developing countries. The security and development nexus has become much intertwined; short term security operations will not bring about sustainable benefits if they are not coordinated with long-term development efforts (e.g. job creation) and the reverse is also true. As the 2011 World Development Report (WDR) points out, none of the fragile and conflict affected countries (FCCs), have met any of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the poverty rate is 20 percent higher than in countries that have not experienced cycles of violence.1 Moreover, evidence has shown that over the last eight decades, countries having once suffered from conflict have a tendency to relapse2 with the “peacetime” becoming gradually smaller between conflicts.

1.2 Therefore, in post-conflict situations more than in any other, non-state actors such as militias and armed opposition groups with an overabundance of arms and ammunition, pose great risk to internal stability. It is necessary in such situations of reconstruction that security sector reform (SSR) programs address the initial monopoly, and that legitimate use of force is returned to the state very early in the peace process. Legitimate use of force by the state in this case will imply the existence of a recognized government and even fledgling institutions such as the courts to provide checks and balances. SSR in post-conflict situations is different from other situations because it has to deal with the legacy of past conflict and the re-establishment of the state-citizen social contract. Thus in post-conflict periods, it is inevitable to call for Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) of former combatants, an important component of Peace-building that helps prevent the reoccurrence of conflict.

1.3 In line with the Fragile States Unit’s (OSFU) commitment to support better engagement in key priority areas of State Building, the present paper lays out some lessons to be drawn during programming and design stages of DDR. This study seeks to briefly look at DDR as part of a larger SSR process and what role the African Development Bank (AfDB) has played in this regard, within the overall framework of post conflict reconstruction and peace building.