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Peace and Conflict in West Africa: Dealing with ex-combatants in Sierra Leone and Liberia


Peace and Conflict in West Africa: Dealing with ex-combatants in Sierra Leone and Liberia Walt Kilroy School of Law and Government, Dublin City University – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Peace and Conflict in West Africa: Dealing with ex-combatants in Sierra Leone and Liberia

Peace and Conflict in West Africa Dealing with
ex-combatants in Sierra Leone and Liberia
  • Walt Kilroy
  • School of Law and Government, Dublin City
  • The support of the Jesuit Centre for Faith and
    Justice and of Trócaire is gratefully

A definition of peacebuilding
  • In current usage... peacebuilding is an attempt,
    after a peace has been negotiated or imposed, to
    address the sources of present hostility and
  • build local capacities for conflict resolution.
  • - Doyle and Sambanis, 2006, Making War and
    Building Peace, Princeton Princeton University
    Press, p. 22
  • Ways to improve the prospects for peaceful
    governance include
  • Strengthening state institutions
  • Increasing political participation
  • Engaging in land reform
  • Deepening civil society
  • Finding ways to respect ethnic identities

Disarmament, demobilization and reintegration
programmes are often at the nexus of
peacekeeping, post-conflict peacebuilding and
development - UN Secretary Generals report on
DDR to General Assembly (2006 8)
  • Disarmament is the collection, documentation,
    control and disposal of small arms, ammunition,
    explosives and light and heavy weapons of
    combatants and often also of the civilian
  • - UN Secretary General (2006)

Surrendered arms stored under UN peacekeepers
supervision Bunia, Democratic Republic of Congo,
May 2005
Combatants from MODEL lining up to surrender
their weapons as part of the DDR process in
Liberia in 2004. (Photo IRIN)
  • Demobilization is the formal and controlled
    discharge of active combatants from armed forces
    or other armed groups.
  • UN Secretary General (2006)
  • Involves registration in camps, and immediate
    support packages.

Registration of ex-combatants Bunia, Democratic
Republic of Congo May 2005
  • Reintegration is the process by which
    ex-combatants acquire civilian status and gain
    sustainable employment and income.
  • Reintegration is essentially a social and
    economic process with an open timeframe,
    primarily taking place in communities at the
    local level.
  • - UN Secretary General (2006)

Bunia, Democratic Republic of Congo May 2005
DDR as an integral part of the peace process
  • Usually part of final peace agreement
  • Does not make agreement inevitable
  • Can be halted by return to hostilities
  • interplay, a subtle interaction, between
    the dynamics of a peace process and how DDR is
    implemented (Berdal, 1996 73)

DDR Literature
  • Early literature Berdal (1996)
  • World Bank etc Colletta et al (1996)
  • Maturing literature Batchelor and Kingma (2004)
  • Quantitive Studies Humphreys and Weinstein
    (2007), Pugel (2006)
  • Best practice SIDDR (2006), IDDRS (2006)
  • Muggah (various)
  • Contemporary Security Policy, Vol 27, No 1, April

Integrated DDR Standards
  • Produced by collection of UN agencies (2006)
  • 700 pages, with Operational Guide
  • Available on web (, open to
  • Principles
  • People-centred
  • Flexible, transparent and accountable
  • Nationally-owned
  • Integrated
  • Well planned

What works well and doesnt
  • Interaction with peace process
  • Building of confidence
  • Reduction in arms
  • Childrens reintegration and rehabilitation
  • Women face greater problems in reintegrating, but
    are not catered for well in DDR programmes
  • Gaps in funding, delays in providing benefits
  • Finding livelihoods for ex-combatants

DDR in Africa since 1990
Sierra Leone
Côte dIvoire
KEY Early cases Recent Underway/proposed
Sierra Leone chronology
  • 1700s departure point for slave trade
  • 1787 Colony for freed slaves set up
  • 1808 Freetown (and later rest the country)
    becomes British crown colony
  • 1961 Independence
  • 1967 Military coup, and move towards repressive
    one-party rule
  • Corruption and poor governance
  • Services for citizens decline
  • Exclusion and poverty (including youth)
  • Diamond trade run for benefit of elites
  • 1989 War starts in neighbouring Liberia
  • 1991 War starts in Sierra Leone with RUF
    incursion from Liberia
  • Outside actors ECOMOG peacekeepers, private
    military contractors, and UK intervention (2000)
    to contain RUF
  • 1999 July Lome peace agreement signed with RUF
  • 2002 War declared over

Sierra Leone Truth and Reconciliation Commission
  • Years of bad governance, endemic corruption
    and the denial of basic human rights that created
    the deplorable conditions that made conflict
    inevitable. Successive regimes became
    increasingly impervious to the wishes and needs
    of the majority. Institutional collapse reduced
    the vast majority of people into a state of
    deprivation. Government accountability was
    non-existent. Political expression and dissent
    had been crushed. Democracy and the rule of law
    were dead. By 1991, Sierra Leone was a deeply
    divided society and full of the potential for
    violence. It required only the slightest spark
    for this violence to be ignited.
  • TRC Sierra Leone, 2004, Witness to the Truth
    Report of the Sierra Leone Truth and
    Reconciliation Commission, Volume 1, p 10.
  • http//

Participation What is it?
  • Chambers (1985, 1997)
  • Concept still evolving, and is not uncontested
  • Genuine involvement of beneficiaries in all
    stages of the programme cycle
  • Deciding on needs
  • Planning interventions
  • Implementing them
  • Monitoring
  • Evaluating the programme
  • In reality, most work has been done on the later
    stages (M E)
  • Usually based in more stable communities than
    post-conflict environments

Ladder of participation adapted from Pretty
Self-mobilization People take initiatives independently of outsiders involvement.
Interactive participation Joint analysis, action plans and decisions on resources, with strengthening of local institutions.
Functional participation People implement (esp to reduce costs) and make smaller decisions.
Participation for material incentives People contribute land, labour, in return for benefits.
Participation by consultation Consultation, but decision-making is not shared.
Passive participation People are told what has been decided
Manipulative participation A pretence
Participation how it might help
  • Enhancing the sense of ownership at national and
    community level
  • Addressing social capital
  • Dealing with perceptions that those with guns are
    being rewarded
  • More relevant services for all, including
    marginalized groups such as children, women, and
    the disabled
  • Promoting reconciliation and acceptance of
    ex-combatants, where the whole community can see
    that it benefits
  • Building long term national capacity

Research methods
  • Semi-structured interviews with a range of
  • Questionnaire for ex-combatants (n9832)
  • Focus group discussions of ex-combatants (11)
  • Rural, semi-urban, and urban settings

Key themes from Focus Groups
  • Life is very hard (economically)
  • Problems with quality and duration of training
  • No jobs result, even if the training is completed
  • Inaccurate information re the DDR programme
  • Broken promises
  • Little input to decisions on the programme, apart
    from training/education options
  • Missing or misappropriated benefits
  • Corruption and cheating
  • Lack of confidence in the programme

(No Transcript)
Focus group comments
  • Nothing of what they promised, did they give
  • The problem lies with those who promised things
    to us but did not fulfil. Benefits were expected
    which we would have used to ensure support for
    our families, and these were not provided. That
    is why my kids are all in the streets, so you can
    see that my condition is terrible, I swear to
  • So really the disarmament process did not go
    down well with us, because they cheated us
    what was meant for us was not given to us.
  • - Three participants, Focus Group A, Bo,
    Sierra Leone

Survey of ex-combatants in Sierra Leone (Sept
  • Q If you were running a DDR programme now, what
    things would you do to help people feel included
    in the process, and have their views listened
  • They should learn to fulfil their promises. It's
    a serious issue (we) agreed to disarm fully, but
    some have been abandoned.
  • I would be open with them and give them the
    opportunity to express their thoughts
  • I would try to know what they want
  • Try to encourage people to forget about the past
    and become a new person in society
  • I will help the real people and not bribe

Survey of ex-combatants in Sierra Leone (Sept
  • Q What would you avoid doing?
  • Theft
  • Building up false hopes
  • Cheating
  • Deceit
  • Corruption
  • Marginalising and duping the target group
  • Making bogus promises

Why there are problems
  • Short time frame for starting DDR programmes
  • Many different actors, with varying agendas,
    capacities, and organisational cultures.
  • Funding from disparate donors, who themselves
    have a variety of perspectives.
  • Lack of capacity and social capital in post-war
  • Early stages (disarmament) do not lend themselves
    to consultation.
  • Engagement with commanders may be necessary but
    is problematic.

Is participation possible in DDR?
  • Ladder of participation is a useful tool for
    analysing reintegration
  • Power
  • Agency
  • Social capital
  • Lower rungs of ladder are reached at times
  • Many obstacles, especially time constraints
  • Childrens programmes showed more participation
  • Matter of degree (who, when, and how)
  • More opportunities in later stages
  • It can point to greater ownership,
    sustainability, and better outcomes

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