An Integrative Multilevel Approach to Successful Demobilization, Disarmament and Reintegration
The moment the guns fall silent, war is not over. Once conflicting parties agree to stop fighting, they enter into a critical transition period. In more than half of all cases, these problems cannot be overcome and attempts to establish peace fail. Parties resume hostilities and take up arms again (Walter 1999:127). In recent times, the international community has recognized the shattering power of this transition period and has started to react. In order to facilitate the transition period and to soften the arising challenges, Demobilization, Disarmament and Reintegration (DDR) programs are implemented in a majority of civil war countries.
Despite the global emphasis and wide implementation of DDR programs, social science literature is lagging behind with the scientific inspection of this important component of peacebuilding. So far, the majority of studies concerning DDR have either concentrated on lessons learned assessments and policy reports by IOs and NGOs (see ILO 2003, UN 1999, Verhey 2001) or descriptions of the success and failure of single missions (see Coletta et al. 1996, Bieber 2002).
A fairly new branch of civil war research has however started to focus on systematic studies of conflict. To this date, the majority of this research focuses on macro variables. Only a small number of scholars has recently started to conduct systematic studies of conflict on the micro-level. This approach takes a closer look at individuals and examines the conditions under which fighters give up their weapons and become part of civil society. In line with this new systematic research, my dissertation aims to contribute to the overall understanding and examination of the success and failure of DDR programs by responding to the following research question: Under which conditions are DDR programs successful?
While macro as well as micro-level studies offer new and valuable insights into a certain aspects of DDR, they all face one major problem: To examine only one level of analysis at the time inevitably disregards the other levels. Country level studies are able to compare many countries and allows for more general assumptions. However, they fail to grasp local dynamics and mechanisms. Studies on the micro level on the other hand can be useful to understand specific dynamics on the ground, however they miss out on the system level processes (Weidmann 2009: 475). To view them separately does not embrace the full phenomenon. The aim of this dissertation is thus to combine the levels of analysis and to offer a multilevel model for the success and failure of demobilization and reintegration of ex-combatants.