The revised UN Approach to DDR

Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) has typically been associated with DDR programmes in contexts where a peace agreement has been signed between armed groups and a national government, and where a UN peacekeeping mission has been deployed. Experience gathered over the last ten years has shown that DDR programmes are viable only when certain preconditions are in place:

  • The signing of a negotiated ceasefire and/or peace agreement that provides a framework for DDR;
  • Trust in the peace process;
  • Willingness of the parties to the armed conflict to engage in DDR;
  • A minimum guarantee of security.

The United Nations is increasingly engaged in settings where these preconditions are not present. Contexts are often characterized by the fragmentation and multiplication of armed groups, some of which sign peace agreements while others do not manage to reach them. Similarly, armed conflict is often localized as armed groups fight each other over the control of territory and natural resources, in addition to (or instead of) fighting State forces. Furthermore, peace agreements are only a remote possibility when it comes to armed groups designated as terrorist organizations by the United Nations.

Responding to these developments, the Inter-Agency Working Group on DDR (IAWG-DDR) took the decision to revise and update the IDDRS, including the strategic module, IDDRS 2.10 on The UN Approach to DDR.  This module provides guidance not only on DDR programmes, but also a range of other options for DDR practitioners under the umbrella of a DDR process. A DDR process may consist of any combination of the following:

  • DDR programmes;
  • DDR-related tools;
  • Reintegration support, including when complementing DDR-related tools.












The revised UN Approach to DDR introduces a number of DDR-related tools such as:

Pre-DDR is alocal-level transitional stabilization measure designed for those who are eligible for a DDR programme. Pre-DDR can be initiated when the implementation of a DDR programme is delayed.

Transitional WAM may include (but is not limited to) weapons collection in exchange for community development projects, and support for the safer management of weapons and ammunition by communities.

CVRis a bottom-up approach that helps to eliminate the main drivers of violence in communities by providing alternatives to recruitment into armed groups and building social cohesion. It includes a wide range of activities from labour intensive projects to community dialogue forums.

DDR support to mediation:DDR practitioners can provide support to the drafting of DDR provisions in ceasefires and political agreements. They can also make proposals on the design and implementation of DDR programmes, provide advice on how to engage armed forces and groups on DDR issues, and contribute to the attainment of agreements.

DDR support to transitional security arrangements:DDR practitioners can provide support to the establishment of security-related confidence building measures as part of ongoing negotiations, ceasefire or peace agreements. This can include the temporary establishment of legitimate non-state security providers or of mixed patrols and units made up of both state and non-state armed forces and groups.

The new UN Approach to DDRalso recognizes that support to the reintegration of former combatants and persons formerly associated with armed forces and groups can be provided not only in post-conflict contexts, but also during active conflict, when the preconditions for DDR programmes are not in place. Support to reintegration in this context may also complement DDR-related tools, such as when reintegration support follows CVR, showing the centrality of reintegration support to ensure sustainable transitions to civilian life.

The revised UN Approach to DDR also includes new principles such as gender responsive and inclusive, conflict sensitive and regionally supported. The specific needs of children and youth are also further strengthened in the revised document.

The new UN Approach to DDR has been validated by all IAWG principals and will be the centrepiece of the upcoming launch of the revised IDDRS on 19 November 2019.

Updated 18 October 2019

Photo by MINUSTHA 2010