From Rebel to Taxpayer? Working Together for Successful DDR

On 30-31 May 2007, the Netherlands government and several Dutch NGOs engaged in development cooperation organised a seminar on lessons learned in the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of combatants. The venue was the seaside hotel Carlton Beach in The Hague, and the participants were policy officials, development practitioners and scholars. The keynote speaker was Patrick Cammaert, until recently the commander of the eastern section of the UN Peace Support Operation MONUC in the Democratic Republic of Congo. One of the lessons that Major-General (Royal Netherlands Marines, retired) Cammaert drew from DDR experience is that reintegration assistance should preferably be given to the communities that are to receive the ex-combatants rather than to the former fighters themselves. Irma Specht of Transition International pointed out that DDR is inevitably unfair, because it offers impunity and special benefits to people who in some cases have committed serious crimes, Sami Faltas (CESS) agreed, but called for an effort to make DDR less unfair. If impunity is unavoidable, it should be limited and conditional. If ex-combatants are given special assistance, they should be obliged to tell the truth and work for reconstruction and reconciliation. If successful, this would not only make DDR fairer, it would also make it more effective. Sami also submitted a paper with some comments on DDR in the DRC. The conference also heard practitioners relate experiences from DDR programmes in Indonesia, Nepal and the DRC.



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