Transitional Demobilization and Reintegration Program
The African Union, the United Nations and the
World Bank join forces to enhance DDR in Africa
September 2011
Adolphe Hasabindero, M&E Specialist in the Technical Coordination Team of the Burundi DDR project

The three bodies are developing a program to enhance DDR support to African States.

Of the 54 countries that are member states of the African Union, more than half have experienced some form of conflict in the past 15 years. To curb the vicious cycle of violence in the post-conflict period, an important step is implementing effective disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) of combatants.

This is why DDR is a key area of focus for the African Union, and is part of its post-conflict reconstruction and development policy and actions under the Africa Peace and Security Architecture (APSA). The regional organization wants to enhance its capacity to support member states that need to implement DDR programs and called upon the UN and World Bank to support these efforts.

Both the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) and the TDRP, with the added legacy of the MDRP, have extensive experience of supporting DDR in Africa.

A first joint fact-finding mission took place in May 2011 in Addis, during which an action plan was developed.

In early September 2011, a joint team from DPKO, TDRP and the United Nations Office to the African Union (UNOAU) visited again the Peace and Security Department (PSD) of the African Union, this time to put in place a concrete program of support as previously agreed.

For the TDRP/World Bank, this collaboration falls in line with the Bank’s Africa Strategy on enhanced partnerships with regional organizations. The support is also directly connected to the “operationalization” phase of the 2011 World Development Report (WDR) on Conflict, Security and Development. (Ambassador Ramtane Lamamra, Commissioner for Peace and Security at the African Union, sat on the WDR advisory council.)

In Addis, Dr. Norman Mlambo, focal point for security sector reform (SSR) and DDR in the Defense and Security Division of the PSD, presented the four objectives of the AU DDR program:

  • To provide support to member states implementing DDR,
  • To encourage member states that are struggling with DDR issues (advocacy function),
  • To assist member states in mobilizing technical, financial and human resources for their DDR activities, and
  • To create a continental platform for an African dialogue on DDR.
Grevisse Ditend, Director of the UEPNDDR
Abderrahim Fraiji, TDRP Manager

The way DDR takes place in a particular country after a conflict is highly dependent upon the context in that country”, notes Abderrahim Fraiji, TDRP Manager. “However, we have accumulated a wealth of knowledge from past DDR experiences in African countries, from the late 1990s to now. This experience must be shared with countries now in need of DDR, and the DDR Program of the African Union is the ideal vehicle for that”.

Preparing a the first AU DDR Program

After discussions, presentations and meetings over two weeks, the parties agreed to the following:

  • A preparatory project, funded by the TDRP, will run from October 2011 to December 2012, and will serve to put in place the various pieces of the AU’s first 3-year DDR Program in early 2013: personnel, trainings, resource center, missions, and events.
  • A DDR advisor based in Addis, supported by DPKO and UNOAU, will provide advisory services to the AU.
  • The DDR section of DPKO will lead training activities using its international network of agencies and organizations providing such services.

In order to provide practical experience to the AU staff working on DDR, a few countries were identified where DDR programs are being negotiated and will be implemented shortly.  In the new Republic of South Sudan for example, the objective is to field a team of DDR technical experts coming from central African countries, under the leadership of the AU and with guidance from TDRP and DPKO. The mission will advise the South Sudan DDR Commission as it develops its program.

Adolphe Hasabindero, M&E Specialist in the Technical Coordination Team of the Burundi DDR project
Dr. Norman Mlambo of the African Union

This south-south exchange is exactly what this partnership is about, says Dr. Mlambo. Those who have been in the midst of implementing DDR programs are best placed to know what works and what doesn’t, down to the smallest details.  They are the ones who should advise their counterparts in other countries”.

Over the coming weeks, the three organizations will continue to discuss regularly and work jointly to implement the next steps of this effort: agree on countries where DDR support will be extended initially, and start organizing training for AU staff, after consultations with the Regional Economic Communities (RECs). The first such event is slated for February 2012 to start developing DDR operational guidelines, based on the Integrated DDR Standards (IDDRS), to promote consistency of AU guidance on DDR.

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