Join the New Tactics community for an online conversation on Sustaining Peace: Reintegrating Former Combatants into Society, September 25-29.
The Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration (DDR) of combatants are vital steps in the peacebuilding process following an armed conflict. The past 30 years has witnessed a rise of DDR programs to help stabilize war-torn societies. The process of reintegrating members of non-state militaries, rebel groups, and their dependents has proved to be particularly challenging and volatile, yet vital to creating and maintaining peace following armed conflict. UN Peacekeeping defines reintegration as “the process by which ex-combatants acquire civilian status and gain sustainable employment and income. It is a political, social and economic process with an open time-frame, primarily taking place in communities at the local level.”
In the wake of conflict, combatants and their dependents face many challenges. Often young and reliant on their affiliations to militant groups for economic and social support, former combatants frequently struggle without community ties, education, or employable skills. Communities may struggle to accept former combatants due to fear or anger stemming from the past trauma of conflict. Weak or unstable political institutions emerging from conflict often exacerbate these problems.
Without support, former combatants are liable to return to their lives in the military or a guerilla group, thereby prolonging or reinitiating the conflict. Consequentially, the social, economic, and political reintegration of combatants into communities contributes to lasting stability and prevention of more human rights abuses. Furthermore, the reintegration process can help initiate community reconciliation and societal healing from past traumas. Ultimately, reintegration plays a key role in the process of rebuilding communities sustainably following the end of an armed conflict.
In this conversation, we seek to explore the challenges of reintegrating former combatants into society and seek to discuss strategies to help communities rebuild peacefully.