What is DDR?

DDR stands for disarmament, demobilization and reintegration. The objective of the DDR process is to contribute to security and stability in post-conflict environments so that recovery and development can begin. The DDR of ex-combatants is a complex process, with political, military, security, humanitarian and socio-economic dimensions. It aims to deal with the post-conflict security problem that arises when ex-combatants are left without livelihoods or support networks, other than their former comrades, during the vital transition period from conflict to peace and development. Through a process of removing weapons from the hands of combatants, taking the combatants out of military structures and helping them to integrate socially and economically into society, DDR seeks to support male and female ex-combatants and men, boys, women and girls associated with armed forces and groups, so that they can become active participants in the peace process.

In this regard, DDR lays the groundwork for safeguarding and sustaining the communities in which these individuals return, while building national capacity for long-term peace, security and development. It is important to note that DDR alone cannot resolve conflict, prevent violence, or enable development. It can, however, help establish a secure environment so that other elements of a recovery and peacebuilding strategy can proceed.

Who is eligible to participate in a DDR programme?

While a peace agreement will generally state or otherwise indicate which armed forces and groups will participate in DDR, the development of detailed and transparent eligibility criteria is a priority in the initial assessment and planning phase. When determining eligibility, it is important to break outside of the traditional view of DDR participants as only being adult males carrying weapons, and remember that DDR participants and beneficiaries may fit all types of profiles including female ex-combatants and women associated with armed forces and groups, children, youth, the elderly and persons living with disabilities.

Eligibility criteria should avoid allowing persons to enter a programme simply because they have surrendered weapons or ammunition. Rather, the criteria should be based on tests to determine an individual’s membership of an armed force or group. All those who are found to be members of an armed force or group (to be included in the DDR programme), whether they were involved in active combat or in support roles (such as cooks, porters, messengers, administrators, sex slaves and ‘war wives’), shall be considered part of the armed force or group and therefore shall be included in the DDR programme.


DDR defined:

Disarmament is the collection, documentation, control and disposal of small arms, ammunition, explosives and light and heavy weapons of combatants and often also of the civilian population. Disarmament also includes the development of responsible arms management programmes.

Demobilization is the formal and controlled discharge of active combatants from armed forces or other armed groups. The first stage of demobilization may extend from the processing of individual combatants in temporary centres to the massing of troops in camps designated for this purpose (cantonment sites, encampments, assembly areas or barracks). The second stage of demobilization encompasses the support package provided to the demobilized, which is called reinsertion.

Reinsertion* is the assistance offered to ex-combatants during demobilization but prior to the longer-term process of reintegration. Reinsertion is a form of transitional assistance to help cover the basic needs of ex-combatants and their families and can include transitional safety allowances, food, clothes, shelter, medical services, short-term education, training, employment and tools. While reintegration is a long-term, continuous social and economic process of development, reinsertion is short-term material and/or financial assistance to meet immediate needs, and can last up to one year.

Reintegration is the process by which ex-combatants acquire civilian status and gain sustainable employment and income. Reintegration is essentially a social and economic process with an open time-frame, primarily taking place in communities at the local level. It is part of the general development of a country and a national responsibility, and often necessitates long-term external assistance.

Secretary-General, note to the General Assembly, A/C.5/59/31, May 2005.


* Reinsertion is part of the demobilization phase.