The 29th and 30th of April 2013, the Inter Agency Working Group (IAWG) on Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) held its strategic planning retreat at the United Nations (UN) Headquarters in New York. In what was later described by participants as a “collegial and cordial atmosphere”, the members revisited the IAWG’s objectives looking for elements that could strengthen its relevance in face of today’s DDR new challenges.
In 2005, the United Nations Executive Committee on Peace and Security formally established the IAWG. The working group main purposes are to work towards developing a strategic framework on DDR for the UN and to improve DDR programmes’ effectiveness at the field level. During the 8 years that passed since, a lot has been achieved to work towards an effective coordination between agencies.
In 2010, the IAWG on DDR received a generous financial contribution from the European Commission (EC). The EC contribution enabled the IAWG to implement the “Joint Project on DDR”. More than 25 activities were implemented during the “Joint Project” including a wide range of trainings, the creation of new materials and resources available in multiple languages, research conducted internally and with partners from the academic community and support provided to several countries carrying out DDR and related processes. Furthermore, we ought to outline one of the most important achievements of the IAWG “Joint Project” has been the development of the Integrated Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration Standards (IDDRS) and the supporting Operational Guide and Briefing Note for Senior Managers. For the purpose of the IAWG’s retreat, the group’s internal evaluation of the Joint Project was presented to underline gaps and issues the IAWG is facing.
In the eyes of more than 20 participants from several member entities, the IAWG retreat was a success. This was a perfect time to reassess the role of the IAWG and define its future post-Joint Project. After two days of intense discussions and debates, the IAWG members agreed on short-term action (i.e. terms of reference update, revisiting sub-working groups, reinvigorating the monthly meeting) and reconfirmed the IAWG purpose to be an advocacy-focused community of practice leveraging its diverse human capital, institutional strength, organizational skills and its direct communication channels with the field. This last point was highlighted during the meeting. Indeed, the IAWG is relevant if it can contribute to the field operations and to the DDR community. In light of its comparative advantages, the group decided to use at best its resources and to be proactive and flexible. It would enable the group to face the DDR’s new contexts and answer the needs in trainings and new guidance that the operations in the field asked for. The IAWG is trying to implement a bottom-up approach with the field always first in mind.
The retreat gave members an opportunity to re-evaluate their engagement in the IAWG that had changed a lot during the Joint Project. Moreover, the IAWG’s structure and functioning of the membership will be discussed further in a dedicated task force. This retreat enabled the members to speak about the successes but also the challenges that they are facing and how the IAWG’s new path could support them. Even if a lot of work remains to be done, IAWG’s future is brighter.