This report reviews the design and implementation of disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR) in Afghanistan, assessing the extent to which the DDR program met its goals and the effect this had on security sector reform (SSR).

270

Summary

  • Afghanistan’s disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR) program sought to enable the Afghan government to establish a monopoly on the use of force by helping break the linkages between former Afghan Military Forces (AMF) commanders and their troops, helping former combatants make the transition from military to civilian life, and collecting weapons in the possession of the AMF. Although Afghanistan presented an extremely challenging environment in which to implement DDR, a window for carrying out this task arguably existed for a couple of years after the signing of the Bonn Agreement. During this time the security situation throughout much of the country was relatively calm, the population generally supported efforts to establish peace, and the politicization of the security sector that began in the wake of the agreement was not yet entrenched.
  • Unfortunately, the failure to include DDR in the Bonn settlement was the first in a series of missteps that limited the program’s contributions to security sector reform. Delays in the design and initiation of a DDR process, combined with the international community’s initial decision to leave only a light footprint in Afghanistan, left armed Afghan actors to contend with the type of security dilemma that has proven detrimental to other efforts to stabilize the peace. Competing militias’ efforts to provide security as well as some groups’ attempts to gain control of the security sector apparatus generated mistrust among the militias and reinforced the power of commanders and warlords. This situation was exacerbated by the coalition’s reluctance to check the growing factionalization of the DDR process and a civilian- implemented DDR program that lacked the coercive capacity to contend with spoilers.
  • DDR provisions should be part of a peace settlement. If armed groups prove unwilling to agree to such measures, their commitment to the settlement and to a durable peace must be considered suspect. Once such settlement measures have been agreed to, third-party actors—international or regional peacekeeping forces, third-party armies—should commit to providing security before, during, and after DDR; this sends a message to civilians and combatants that DDR will not endanger their safety.

About the Report

This report reviews the design and implementation of disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR) in Afghanistan, assessing the extent to which the DDR program met its goals and the effect this had on security sector reform (SSR). The report also focuses on the international community’s failure to include DDR as part of the initial power-sharing settlement embodied in the Bonn Agreement, the implications this posed for rival groups’ security, and the effects this had on both DDR and SSR. This report is one of a series focusing on DDR and SSR organized by the United States Institute of Peace’s Security Sector Governance Center.

About the Author

Caroline A. Hartzell is a 2010–11 Jennings Randolph Fellow at the United States Institute of Peace and a professor of political science at Gettysburg College. She is currently conducting research on the effects that the terms of civil war settlements have on postconflict economic development and has previously worked on how power-sharing arrangements affect the stability of the peace.

Explore Further

Related Publications

How can Afghans make peace AND protect women? Meet Ayesha Aziz.

How can Afghans make peace AND protect women? Meet Ayesha Aziz.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

By: Palwasha L. Kakar

After nearly 40 years of war, Afghanistan and the international community are urgently seeking paths for a peace process. But amid the tentative efforts—a three-day ceasefire in June, the peace march across the country by hundreds of Afghans and talks by U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad—a somber question hangs for women and human rights advocates. How can Afghanistan make peace with the Taliban while protecting democracy and women’s rights?

Gender; Religion; Peace Processes

How to Secure Afghanistan’s Future

How to Secure Afghanistan’s Future

Monday, December 10, 2018

By: William Byrd

From a diplomatic and process standpoint, Geneva Conference on Afghanistan was generally seen as a success by participants (though some countries were not represented at the minister level), and the Afghan government showcased the progress it made in implementing reforms and national priority programs over the past two years. But what did the GCA accomplish substantively, what was left undone, and what questions were left unanswered?

Democracy & Governance; Economics & Environment

Johnny Walsh on Election Season in Afghanistan

Johnny Walsh on Election Season in Afghanistan

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

By: Johnny Walsh

As Afghans wait for official results from the parliamentary polls, Johnny Walsh says that the country is already entering “high political season” in preparation for the critical April 2019 presidential election. Although the Taliban continues to carry out high-profile attacks across the country, Walsh says that many Afghans are focused on the presidential polls and its implications for the peace process.

Democracy & Governance

View All Publications