DDR (Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration) broadly refers to the process by which combatants become civilians and military assets are transformed to benefit civilian economy, society and infrastructure. Generally, DDR processes occur at the end of an armed conflict when the government forces need to be downsized to peacetime levels and armed groups, with whom the government has signed a peace agreement, need to be demobilized. Today, however, DDR processes occur more frequently in ongoing armed conflicts or where peace processes are incomplete or unstable. In these environments, a series of Second Generation DDR processes are being utilized to create the conditions for genuine DDR to occur. This may include programs that diminish the motivation to use violence, programs that encourage defections as part of counter insurgency operations, or pension schemes that right-size government security services.
In order to create greater ownership and regional capacity to implement DDR, DPKO and the World Bank began to liaise with the AU to develop a common plan to create capacity within the AU and the broader African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) to support DDR processes on the continent. As a result, in October 2012, the AU DDR Capacity Program was created after a consultative meeting with the Regional Economic Communities and Regional Mechanisms (RECs/RMs) and the design of a 3-year project document. Unlike the other capacity programs which focused first on developing AU policy, the DDR program aims to provide actual support to AU PSOs and member states in order to develop policies based on practice.
The DDR Capacity Program is therefore built on 3 pillars: building AU capacity, namely hiring staff and creating a strategic Steering Committee; creating knowledge DDR products; and providing support to AU PSOs and member states pursuant to requests for assistance. Since the program was launched the AU has hired three full time DDR staff at AU HQ and deployed DDR staff to its PSOs in CAR and Mali. The AU also created a Steering Committee formed of the eight RECs with DPKO and the World Bank as observers, and merged this committee with the Small Arms and Light Weapons Steering Committee in order to enhance synergy between the two programs.
With regard to knowledge products, the AU has developed and validated five DDR Operational Guidance Notes (OGNs) including on women, children, reintegration processes, detention and national frameworks, the later of which focuses on steps which governments need to take in setting up a national DDR program. These products are disseminated to AU member states and the African Centres of Excellence. The AU is now in the process of developing guidance notes on deradicalization programming and managing foreign fighters. Other products under development include a web-based DDR compendium which provides an analysis of field experience linked to the OGNs, and a training manual which will harmonize training being given by the African Centres of Excellence.
The AU has received requests for support and conducted joint assessment missions to the Comoros, Sudan, Libya, South Sudan, Somalia and CAR. Currently, AU-follow up is focused primarily on CAR and Somalia where technical, political and logistical support are particularly needed. UNOAU participates in all of these missions and ensures that the AU efforts are effectively coordinated with the UN teams on the ground and that a common approach between the AU, World Bank and the UN is developed.
As the first phase of the AU DDR Capacity Program ends in 2015, UNOAU will be working to support the development of the next phase which will focus on furthering the mutually beneficial partnership between the UN, World Bank and the AU based on their respective capacities. The AU DDR Capacity Program is supported by AU assessed funding, World Bank funding and the UN-World Bank Trust Fund.