The 2021 DDR Symposium
Discover the missions
DDR and Transition processes
policy and partnership updates
Stories from the Field
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THIS NEWSLETTER ISSUE
BY DPO-DDR SECTION
The 2021 DDR Symposium
The annual symposium
The objective of the virtual DDR Symposium was to raise awareness of key stakeholders, including member states and UN Agencies Funds and Programmes on the latest developments and innovations in DDR. The Symposium was also an opportunity to take stock of challenges in the area of DDR and to provide strategic recommendations on issues that directly or indirectly impact the work of DDR practitioners. It offered a platform for experience-sharing as well as peer to peer exchanges, thus becoming an important building block of a global community of DDR practice. The entire event comprised of one high-level event, complemented by 5 sessions at technical level, all in the online format.
Launching the DPO Study on The Future of DDR: Engaging armed groups along the peace continuum
Since March last year, the DDR Section with support from the Bonn International Center for Conversion (BICC) and the German Ministry of Foreign affairs, has been working on a study looking at the Evolution of DDR: Engaging Armed Groups along the Peace Continuum. Drawing from the revision of the UN Integrated DDR Standards, the study looks at DDR and DDR-related tools specifically for peacekeeping operations and how they have evolved to adapt to the dynamic nature of armed groups and armed violence. The study directly contributes to the evidence base in support of A4P, most notably the UN’s commitments related to strengthen the impact of peacekeeping on Sustaining Peace.
There are several key phenomena and “frontier issues” that DDR practitioners have been encountering over recent years that makes for the rapidly evolving nature of conflicts that has pushed DDR practice to evolve in response. The study is an attempt to analyze these new trends in DDR policy and practice and provide lessons learned for policymakers and practitioners. It also contributes to the operationalization of the Integrated DDR Standards (IDDRS), but also of key system-wide initiatives, such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), the Youth, Peace and Security (YPS) Agenda, the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Agenda, as well as of efforts to strengthen the nexus between humanitarian, development and peacebuilding efforts. In particular, the findings of the study point to how DDR efforts concretely contribute to the Secretary-General’s Action for Peacekeeping (A4P) initiative, as well as the A4P+ priorities, across key commitments such as those on politics, WPS, peacebuilding, partnerships and sustaining peace.
The study uses a two-prong strategy to explore and describe the evolving global environment of armed conflicts and its impact on DDR policy and practice. First, the study identifies the major phenomena that considerably impact DDR policy and practice. Secondly, the study examines the frontier issues identified by field practitioners as drivers that are likely to accelerate the need for DDR support and further complicate DDR practice in the coming decades.
Implementation of the Integrated DDR Standards (24 June)
The session offered participants an update on the progress of the IDDRS revision and the steps that are planned to support the operationalization of the standards. During breakout groups, participants were given questions on how they currently use the IDDRS and their awareness of the new standards. The final part of the session in plenary aimed to jointly identify the steps that are needed to ensure that Chiefs of DDR component and their teams are aware of and apply the guidance outlined in the revised IDDRS. The main outcome of the session will be to jointly develop a plan for how to transfer the guidance contained in the revised IDDRS to DDR teams in the field.
Operationalizing the DDR-SSR Nexus UN Peace Operations (30 June)
DDR practitioners continue to be confronted with armed groups ambitions regarding integration into national Security Sector forces during discussions on DDR. Due to this interaction with the scope of Security Sector Reform (SSR), the revised IDDRS Module on DDR-SSR has been framed around Integration. In addition, the DDR Section together with SSR Unity and the World Bank, have commissioned a scoping study on Integration as a first step towards joint guidance on this matter. The session served to present the validated and revised IDDRS DDR-SSR Module to practitioners. The discussion under this session will directly feed into the paper produced as part of the joint UN-World Bank project on Integration.
Unpacking Community-Based Reintegration (15 July)
The session offered an opportunity to update participants on the progress of the revision of the IDDRS Module on Reintegration and also aimed at raising participants’ awareness of the Community-Based Reintegration (CBR) concept, which will be introduced in the revised IDDRS module on Reintegration. CBR is an operational concept that requires further consideration by DDR practitioners, given its similarities to DDR processes, because they often occur within the same contexts. Despite similarities, more work is needed to better understand the various comparative advantages and distinct approaches, scope, and objectives between CBR and DDR-related tools such as CVR. To this end, field practitioners and strategic partners shared their experiences in helping DDR practitioners bridge existing knowledge gaps regarding CBR, with aims to increase awareness regarding the CBR concept and reflecting on how CVR may contribute to CBR efforts. This session will feed directly into possible consultation processes related to the development or implementation of CBR in peacekeeping operations, special political missions, and non-mission settings.
Evolving partnerships to match evolving DDR – a tour d’horizon of the emerging New Partnership for DDR (8 July)
Partnership in DDR implementation, that has involved international entities and national authorities and civil society in various degrees, has remained relatively stagnant over the years with multiple relevant actors working in DDR. With the current shifts in DDR, a New Partnership for DDR emerges reflecting the new contexts in which DDR is implemented: from mission to non-mission settings; with new tools, such as CVR, WAM; reintegration without a DDR programme; and earlier phases in the conflict in which DDR occurs. The session discussed what partnerships needed and how to forge them and shape them to their needs.
Webinar on WAM in DDR Contexts (12 July)
The Department of Peace Operations (DPO) and the Office for Disarmament Affairs (ODA) are implementing a joint initiative on “Effective Weapons and Ammunition Management in a Changing DDR context”. The joint project provides resources and guidance as well as training and technical assistance to DDR practitioners in the design and implementation of tailored weapons and ammunition management (WAM) activities. This session brought together DDR practitioners and experts from UNMAS to provide an overview of the joint DPO-ODA initiative and to introduce the corresponding Technical Assistance Mechanism (TAM) under which strategic, policy and technical support on WAM can be provided. The webinar also presented the recently published 2nd edition of the Handbook for DDR practitioners on WAM. Participants had the opportunity to brainstorm on potential WAM initiatives in their respective contexts, as well as support options for which the TAM could be leveraged. The exchanges also explored areas of collaboration and coordination between DDR and UNMAS in the field.
Discover the missions
Discover our Missions
You can find more information and highlights from the field in the interactive map below. Follow the instructions of use to further explore our highlights. We can see videos and pictures from the projects inside each of our missions and their location.
Click on the side arrows to slide through the timeline
Field Updates Highlights
COVID-19: 4,108 PEOPLE, INCLUDING 2,100 EX-COMBATANTS, FROM SEVEN REGIONS OF MALI BENEFIT FROM PANDEMIC KITS
The filed officers from DDR-SSR section of MINUSMA, together with the National DDR Commision (CNDDR) and implementing partners, ditributed awareness kits in the camps of the Operational Coordination Mechanisms (MOC). This initiative, started in May envolved cantonment sites, units of the new reconstituted army, as well as the beneficiaries of CVR projects, and the populations of the regions of Mopti, Gao, Kidal, Timbuktu, Taoudéni and Ménaka. In collaboration with the public information office of MINUSMA, the latested distribution operation started on May 7, 2021, and will continue until June 13, 2021. The kits are composed of solid soaps, bottles of water of bleach, hydroalcoholic gels (350ml), masks, buckets with lid and plastic tap with a volume of 20L with metal support, 20L receptacle buckets and thermo flash.
Read full article (available only in French) here.
Click on the side arrows to swipe through the gallery
DDR and transition processes
What happens to DDR during transitions?
UN transition is the process through which activities performed by a peace operation are gradually transferred to national authorities or another UN presence such as the UN Country Team (UNCT). It may also refer to the reconfiguration of UN presence from Peacekeeping Operations (PKOs) to Special Political Missions (SPMs). This process represents a key milestone in the lifespan of a peacekeeping operation and mission components, including Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) sections, as the UN footprint significantly decreases following the transition process. To ensure consolidation and sustainability of DDR gains post-transition, including Community Violence Reduction (CVR), DDR practitioners need to plan for transition as early as possible.
To this end, the OROLSI DDR Section launched the Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) and Transition Planning Processes: Lessons Learned from Recent Transition Processes guide. This paper outlines lessons learned from recent transition processes and presents a series of recommendations aimed at assisting practitioners to effectively prepare and contribute to transition processes at the headquarters and field levels. The specific cases of the recent transition processes in Haiti and Sudan have shown that there is no single blueprint for successful transitions.
Policy and Partnership updates
MINUSMA Mandate Renewal: Resolution 2584 (2021)
On 29 June 2021, The Security Council unanimously decided to renew the mandate of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) until 30 June 2022.
Unanimously adopting resolution 2584 (2021) under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations, the 15-member organ called on all Malian stakeholders to facilitate the full realization of the political transition and handover of power to elected civilian authorities within the 18-month transition period, as decided during the 15 September 2020 meeting of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Mali’s Transitional Government must also organize free and fair presidential and legislative elections, scheduled for 27 February 2022, along with regional and local elections and a constitutional referendum, as appropriate, within that 18-month time frame.
By other terms, the Council called on all parties in Mali to strictly abide by the arrangements in place for a cessation of hostilities and demanded that all armed groups cut all ties with terrorist organizations and transnational organized crime. They must also end the recruitment and use of child soldiers and cease any activities hampering the return of State authority and basic social services. Further, the Council called for the inclusion within national and regional strategies of programmes that address the stigma of sexual and gender-based violence, bring justice to victims and survivors, and support their reintegration into their communities.
General Assembly Resolution 75/291 on the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy: seventh review
The resolution was adopted by the UN General Assembly on June 30.
TESTIMONIals From the Field
Head of the disarmament process for the U.N. peacekeeping mission in the Central Africa Republic, MINUSCA.
Why DDR? How did your previous career lead you to becoming a DDR practitioner and eventually DDR Chief?
I stumbled onto DDR by chance in 2003. I was in the army and deployed for one year to MONUC to the post of deputy director of the DDRRR Section. Back then, MONUSCO was focused above all on the repatriation of the FDLR elements to Rwanda and the director put me in charge of the other components of the nascent DDR. I participated alongside the representatives of the Congolese authorities and the World Bank in the development of the DDR plan for the DRC. A year later, I left the army and joined the World Bank as a consultant to support the implementation of the programme. I learned a lot about DDR during this time and, above all, it allowed me to establish lasting attachments. After that, I moved to the Côte d’Ivoire, DRC again where I replaced my good Friend Gromo [*Gregory Alex, a long term MONUC/MONUSCO DDR Chief who passed away in 2013] upon his passing and finally to the Central African Republic. I stayed with DDR for fifteen years.
Je suis tombé dans le DDR par hasard en 2003. J’étais militaire détaché pour un an à la Monuc au poste d’adjoint du directeur de la section DDRRR. A cette époque la MONUSCO était surtout préoccupée par le rapatriement des FDLR au Rwanda. Le directeur m’avait laissé la partie DDR naissante. J’ai participé avec les responsables congolais et la Banque mondiale à l’élaboration du plan DDR de la RDC. Un an plus tard je quittais l’armée et je rejoignais la WB comme consultant pour la mise en œuvre du programme. J’ai beaucoup appris sur le DDR pendant cette période et surtout j’y ai noué des liens solides. Je suis ensuite passé par la Côte d’Ivoire, la Monusco encore où j’ai remplacé mon ami Gromo après son décès et enfin la RCA. Je suis resté DDR pendant quinze ans.
As a Chief of Section, what was a normal day like for you? What part of your work did you find the most satisfying?
There is no such thing as a “normal day” for a DDR Section Chief. Every single day is a new challenge. In theory, the mission seems very simple: disarm and reintegrate an armed group or another. But the implementation is much more complex and varies between countries: how to construct camps for hundreds of combatants in the middle of nowhere; what to do with their families; how to secure resources and how to utilize them; how to ensure the transportation for thousands of combatants; what to do with foreign deserters who want to return to their homelands; how to bring to the negotiation table a dozen of armed groups commanders who detest each other etc. etc. What is the most exciting is that one always ends up finding a solution!
Il n’y a pas de jour »normal » pour un chef de section DDR. Chaque jour est un challenge. En théorie la mission semble toujours simple, désarmer et réinsérer socialement tel groupe armé. La mise en œuvre est beaucoup plus complexe et différente dans chaque pays: comment monter des camps pour des centaines de combattant au milieu de nulle part, que faire de leurs familles, comment trouver des budgets et comment les utiliser, comment transporter des milliers de combattants, que faire de déserteurs étrangers qui veulent rentrer dans leur pays d’origine, comment amener à la table de négociation une douzaine de chefs de groupes armés qui se haïssent etc etc. Le plus exaltant c’est que l’on trouve toujours une solution.
What key challenges did you face as a DDR Chief?
I reckon all DDR Chiefs stand up to the same major challenges: to conceptualize a DDR plan both realistic and implementable; to maintain communications with armed groups and the trust of national authorities; to find adequate resources; to utilize the resources within a very strict set of the international rules and procedures; to procure the kits; to reintegrate the combatants in a country engulfed in a crisis, having extremely weak economic absorption capacities, to be capable of adjusting oneself to specific situations such as it was the case while working on CVR in the Central African Republic. And while attempting to face all of that, at all times, to have a plan B!
Je pense que tous les chefs de section DDR font face aux mêmes challenges majeurs: concevoir un plan DDR réaliste et réalisable, le lien avec les groupes armés, la confiance des gouvernements, la recherche de budgets conséquents, l’utilisation de ces budgets suivants les règles internationales très strictes, les achats de kits, la réinsertion de combattants dans des pays en crise avec de très faibles capacités d’absorption économiques, la capacité de s’adapter à des situations particulières comme le CVR en RCA. Et surtout, avoir toujours un plan B!
What are you most proud of in DDR?
Before I get to what I am proud of, I must stress that oftentimes I witnessed with deep sadness failures and tragic human conditions. More often than not, it was due to the lack of will by the International Community to act. What brings some peace of mind is to think of those whom we did manage to help, of women and children we extracted from violence, all those we managed to send back home, of areas that we helped stabilize. What left its mark on me throughout those fifteen years are human relations, bonds of trust and mutual respect established with national partners, United Nations staff, international partners, such as the World Bank colleagues who placed their confidence in me and with the team in the UN Headquarters, always there to support and assist. I feel deep gratitude to all of them.
Technically, I am proud of our successes, and there were quite a few of those. One particular example, the establishment in the DRC of a joint operations center with the transportation team which helped us move and demobilize in one particular year more than 30,000 combatants. More recently, in the Central African Republic, the implementation of the Community Violence Reduction programmes – procurement and delivery of products to make this happen was an enormous challenge! I am so thankful to all those who contributed.
Avant d’être fier je suis triste de certains échecs ou de situations humaines tragiques, le plus souvent par manque de volonté de la Communauté internationale. Ce qui me tranquillise c’est de penser à tous ceux que l’on a pu aider, aux femmes et aux enfants que nous avons sortis de la violence,à ceux que nous avons pu reconduire chez eux, aux régions apaisées. Ce qui m’a beaucoup marqué pendant ces quinze années ce sont les rapports humains, les liens de confiance et de respect liés avec les partenaires nationaux, les staffs UN, les partenaires internationaux comme les collègues de la Banque mondiale qui m’ont fait confiance pendant toutes ces années et toute l’équipe de NYHQ toujours prête à nous soutenir et nous aider. J’en garde une profonde gratitude.
Techniquement je suis fier de nos réussites, nombreuses. Particulièrement la mise en œuvre d’un centre des opérations conjointes en RDC avec une équipe transport qui nous a permis de déplacer et de démobiliser en une année plus de 30 000 combattants. Plus récemment en RCA, le mise en œuvre de programmes de réduction de la violence communautaire, l’achat et le transport de marchandises pour ces plan a été un challenge énorme. Merci à tous ceux qui ont participé.
What is your perspective at the current evolution of Peacekeeping? Where do you think it is going? What is your opinion of Action for Peacekeeping (A4P) and its application in the field?
A difficult question. However, it seems to me that Peacekeeping is more and more absent from major zones of conflict. And this is not a good sign.
C’est une question très difficile. Cependant il semble que le peacekeeping soit actuellement absent des zones de crises majeures. Cela n’augure rien de bon.
How has DDR changed throughout your career? Has there been a development of DDR? If yes, in what direction?
When I was beginning, DDR was really quite technical and prescriptive, with few variations from the template such as the repatriation of foreign combatants. As time went by, DDR has adapted to new missions and new theaters. It is in fact quite inspiring to see how innovative and stubborn DDR practitioners can be when it comes to implementing development and violence reduction programmes. Even more, so that Universities do not offer courses on how to do that. Fortunately, there are now some training courses offered by partners such as the Folke Bernadotte Academy in Sweden. Here, it is also important to recognize the emphasis that is nowadays being placed on the political aspect of DDR. From my very first deployment to the DRC, I have always felt very strongly that DDR is above all political and extremely sensitive.
Quand j’ai commencé, le DDR était vraiment très technique et « réglementé « avec quelques variantes comme le rapatriement de combattants étrangers dans leur pays d’origine. Au fil du temps le DDR s’est adapté à de nouvelles missions et à de nouveaux théâtres. Il est d’ailleurs surprenant de voir combien les staffs DDR peuvent être inventifs et opiniâtres quand il s’agit de mettre en œuvre des programmes de développement et de réduction de la violence. D’autant plus qu’il n’existe pas réellement de cursus universitaire pour cette activité. Heureusement les différentes formations qui sont données comme par exemple par le FBA (Folke Bernadotte Academy). Ici, il faut bien reconnaitre l’importance qui est désormais attachée à l’aspect politique de DDR ; personnellement j’ai toujours eu le sentiment très fort, dès ma première mission en RDC , que le DDR était avant tout politique et extrêmement sensible.
Looking back at your career what was the most impactful experience that changed you as a person?
As I already said, what left the most lasting imprint on me as a person, beyond programmatic successes, are human relations with all the people for whom or with whom I had a pleasure to work. The trust confided in me by combatants, partners, my supervisors have left a mark on my life. I think about them quite often.
Je l’ai déjà dit plus haut, ce qui m’a le plus touché en tant qu’homme au-delà de la réussite de certains programmes ce sont les relations humaines avec l’ensemble des personnes pour qui et avec qui j’ai travaillé. La confiance de combattants, de partenaires, de mes chefs m’ont beaucoup marqué. J’y pense très souvent.
In your belief, how will DDR evolve in the future? Where and into what should DDR evolve?
Another tough question. DDR will evolve hand in hand with Peacekeeping. But it will always need men and women capable of conceptualizing a realistic disarmament plan taking into a measured account the socio-economic implications of their actions. DDR is a potent tool but not a magic wand. The Heads of Missions who will know how to use it will be able to achieve through it a lot. But only on the condition that there will be sufficient will on the part of the International Community and resources adapted to tasks at hand.
I have not served in areas affected by terrorism and don’t know related issues so I will abstain from giving opinions on those.
Development and violence reduction programmes are paths to follow but certainly not the only ones. I am confident that whatever the future has in store, the DDR practitioners will know how to adapt.
C’est encore une question difficile. Le DDR évoluera avec le peacekeeping. Mais il faudra toujours des hommes ou des femmes capables de concevoir un plan de désarmement réaliste mesurant toutes les conséquences sociales et économiques. Le DDR est un outil formidable, pas une baguette magique. Les chefs de mission qui sauront s’en servir pourront réaliser de grandes choses. A condition qu’il y ait une réelle volonté de la part de la Communauté internationale et des moyens adaptés aux missions données.
Je n’ai pas servi dans les zones touchées par le terrorisme. Je n’en connais pas bien les aspects alors j’évite de donner mon avis.
Les programmes de développement et de réduction de la violence sont des pistes mais certainement pas les seules. Je sais que les staffs DDR s’adapteront aux situations futures.
On 22 January, the final draft of the IDDRS module on DDR and Armed Groups Designated as Terrorist Organizations (AGDTO) was submitted for validation to the UN entities members of the Inter-Agency Working Group (IAWG) on DDR. The dissemination of the module constitutes a critical milestone, as it represents the final step prior to its official adoption. Over 2 years have passed since the inception of the operational guidance, which responded to the demands from DDR practitioners deployed in complex environments. Supported by the European Union, the module required extensive consultations among IAWG entities in order to harmonize perspectives and consolidate institutional buy-in.
Also as part of the IDDRS revision process, the DDRS hosted a dedicated webinar on the latest draft of IDDRS module 6.30 on DDR and Natural Resources, bringing together IAWG members as well as private sector entities working in the field of supply chain tracing and natural resource due diligence. This module provides DDR policy makers and practitioners – in mission and non-mission settings – with necessary information on the linkages between natural resource management and integrated DDR processes during the various stages of the conflict-peace continuum, with particular emphasis on economic and social reintegration. The guidance highlights the role of natural resources in all phases of the conflict cycle, focusing especially on the linkages with armed groups, the war economy, and how natural resource management can be considered to support successful DDR processes. This module has now been shared for validation.
IDDRS 6.20 on DDR and Transitional Justice has been revised and a webinar to discuss this module was held on the 21 April. The module is now shared for validation.
Finally, three modules have been validated by the IAWG members since January: IDDRS 4.20 on Demobilization; IDDRS 4.60 on Public Information and Strategic Communication in Support of DDR; and IDDRS 6.40 on DDR and Organized Crime.
IDDRS Modules Status
To Be Validated
Introduction to the IDDRS
Glossary: Terms and Definitions
Concepts, Policy and Strategy of the IDDRS
The UN Approach to DDR
The Legal Framework for UN DDR
The Politics of DDR
Community Violence Reduction
Reintegration as Part of Sustaining Peace
Structures and Processes
Integrated DDR Planning: Processes and Structures
DDR Programme Design
Participants, Beneficiaries, and Partners
National Institutions for DDR
Mission and Programme Support for DDR
Finance and Budgeting
Personnel and Staffing
Monitoring and Evaluation
Operations, Programmes and Support
Transitional Weapons and Ammunition Management
UN Military Roles and Responsibilities
UN Police Roles and Responsibilities
Public Information and Strategic Communication in Support of DDR
Women, Gender and DDR
Children and DDR
Youth and DDR
Cross-border Population Movements
Food Assistance in DDR
HIV/AIDS and DDR
Health and DDR
Disabilities and DDR
DDR and SSR
DDR and Transitional Justice
DDR and Natural Resources
DDR and Organized Crime
DDR and Armed Groups Designated as Terrorist Organisations
Brownbag discussion with the Institute for Security Studies (ISS)
Agenda: Managing the journey out of violent extremism in the Lake Chad Basin
Date: 04 May, 2021
Time: 10 am (NY time)
Brownbag discussion with Mary Beth Altier (author)
Agenda: Violent Extremist Disengagement & Reintegration – Lessons from Over 20 Years of DDR
Date: 14 May, 2021
Time: 10 am (NY time)
Joint UN-ZIF Berlin Expert Dialogue
Agenda: Challenges in Peace Operations related to Armed Groups Designated as Terrorist Organizations
Date:14-15 June, 2021
High Level Launch Event of the joint DPO/BICC Study on The Future of DDR
Agenda: High-level discussion on the Study, and launching of the Virtual DDR Senior Officers Symposium
Date: 22 June, 2021
The recently updated Compendium of DDR Training Courses provides an overview of training opportunities provided by the United Nations System, by partner organizations, and training institutes. Upcoming opportunities include:
Foundational Training Course on DDR with Special Emphasis on Asymmetrical Contexts
Training provider: Cairo International Center for Conflict Resolution, Peacekeeping and Peacebuilding (CCCPA) and the Egyptian Agency for Partnership for Development (EAPD)
Date: 10 – 24 June 2021. Deadline for applications is 30 May 2021.
Effective Weapons and Ammunition Management in a Changing DDR context
Training provider: Department of Peace Operation (DPO) and Office of Disarmament Affairs (ODA)
Format: In person, Accra (Ghana)
Date: 13 -17 September 2021