DDR as a Political Process
In countries where conflict has raged, but where the political will has developed to work towards a non-violent state of being, DDR has been a policy to aid the sustainable development of peace. Ana Cutter Patel writes that DDR is an integral part of peace building; it tries to disarm, demobilize and reintegrate former combatants in order to establish security which is one of the key components of peace. According to Sandra Pogodda et al. DDR is also part of a state building practice, for demobilization and disarmament of ex-combatants ensures the state's monopoly on the use of force. The intervening organizations that practice DDR, often but not exclusively the UN, are assisting the government to ensure security in the country. Should these interventions be considered political? This essay will argue that because DDR processes take on an important role in the political sphere of a country and influence the distribution of power by taking away the physical power of rebel groups, the DDR process should be considered political. Organizations conducting DDR will have their own interests, and directly influence political will in a country. Furthermore, lasting demobilization will likely depend on the distribution of political and socio-economic power, which will be assessed by DDR, being closely linked development processes.
Since there is no consensus on what is political, it is important to establish the definition of political processes, so that DDR as a practice can be measured as being political or not. Amitai Etzioni has successfully developed a workable definition of political processes, stating that political processes are "processes [that] concern bridging power differences with society with those within the state, bridges that carry inputs both from society to the state (e.g., the results of elections) and from the state to society (e.g., Presidential speeches; legislation). The political realm also includes intrastate - but not intra-societal - processes concerning the application, reallocation, and legitimation of power". However, the same goes for political processes on an international level, only then the power differences between states and the international community are the focus.
In order to explore whether DDR is political, the goal and means of the practice should be explained now that a definition of political processes is established. According to the UN, DDR " Aims at comprehensive reversal of war conditions to peace amongst belligerents and bring about peaceful conditions, enhance human security, stability and development through the transforming the role and posture of armed combatants". Five stages of DDR are acknowledged: firstly, DDR tries to achieve its goals by "weapon surrender, assembly, discharge, short to medium term reinsertion, and longer term reintegration". This reintegration relies on granting opportunities to the ex combatants to gain skills, giving them the option to...