Since the defeat of the M23 in eastern Congo, around 8,000 combatants of other rebel groups surrendered to the Congolese army. The surrenders are a very positive development, but the Congolese government together with are slow to put in place a robust disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration program (DDR). They risk losing a great opportunity for peace. Read More »
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Implementing a viable and effective national strategy on disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration, or DDR, of ex-combatants of armed groups in eastern Congo is an urgent issue in the regional peace process for the Democratic Republic of Congo, argues a new Enough report.
By Fidel Bafilemba, Aaron Hall, and Timo Mueller | Feb 27, 2014
Congo: New Opportunity on DDR for Congo Peace Process
Goma, DRC and Nairobi, Kenya – Ahead of the March 5-6 meeting of the International Contact Group on Congo, the Enough Project released a new report today outlining challenges to the successful implementation of the national disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration, or DDR, strategy known as DDR III. The report, “Crafting a Viable DDR Strategy for Congo,” argues that resolving outstanding differences on DDR III must be a priority in the overarching regional peace agenda for the Democratic Republic of Congo.
According to the UN, nearly 8,000 combatants from a range of armed groups have surrendered since the official defeat of M23 in November 2013. Of that 8,000, 2,674 combatants, accompanied by 3,084 dependents, surrendered to the Congolese national army, or FARDC, at the transit camp of Bweremana, in Masisi, North Kivu province. The Enough Project report states that an effective program to rehabilitate ex-combatants is hindered by questions concerning funding, the current security environment, the fate of M23, and where and how to resettle ex-combatants. Additionally, previous DDR programs have been ineffective in the inclusion of justice and accountability while incentivizing defection.
Aaron Hall, co-author of the report and Enough Project Field Consultant, says,
“Implementing a viable and effective national DDR strategy in eastern Congo is now an urgent issue. New opportunities for the Congolese government and its international partners to establish stability in eastern Congo have become apparent since the signing of the U.N. Peace and Security Framework, and the fall of the M23. However, the speed and efficacy with which they implement a national DDR strategy will to a great extent determine the future of peace and economic growth in the region."
The report urges the United Nations and U.S. Special Envoys to the Great Lakes, Mary Robinson and Russ Feingold, other leaders and donors, and the Congolese government to address these issues before the International Contact Group on Congo meeting on March 5-6. Integrating lessons from previous national DDR strategies can help the Congolese government effectively and swiftly disarm a large portion of armed groups in eastern Congo and reintegrate ex-combatants into the military or provide alternative livelihoods, further incentivizing existing armed groups to surrender to the FARDC.
Timo Mueller, co-author of the report and Enough Project Field Researcher in Congo, says
"The success or failure of the DDR process is a major factor that determines the propensity of renewed violence. At its worst, an ill-designed program might become a conflict driver itself. Implementing partners should draw on the lessons learnt and pay particular attention to the reintegration of combatants, the most difficult part of the DDR process."
The national DDR strategy is one element of the peace process. The report states that it must be implemented in coordination with related regional peace and security agreements, including the U.N. PSC Framework and the International Security Stabilization and Support Strategy, or I4S. Coordinating these efforts will determine the success of DDR efforts and the long-term peace and stability of the region.
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