6.7 Necessary Condition: Legitimate State Monopoly Over The Means of Violence
6.7.1 What is legitimate state monopoly over the means of violence? Why is it a necessary condition?
The legitimate state monopoly over the means of violence is a condition in which a state’s security forces operate lawfully under a legitimate civilian authority, where actors conduct themselves in accordance with democratic norms and principles of good governance.122 This condition exists when armed groups from the conflict are disarmed, demobilized, and reintegrated into society, and a military and police force is vetted, retrained, and monitored on human rights principles. Realizing this condition usually entails two major processes: disarming, demobilizing, and reintegrating armed groups (known as DDR), and reforming the security sector (known as SSR)—the system of actors and institutions that provide for the security of the state and the host nation population. Both processes are extremely time- and resource-intensive ones that are always challenging and politically volatile. In war-torn countries where security and security oversight institutions are weak, citizens become vulnerable to intimidation; arbitrary arrest; serious criminal activity; and general fear of violence, oppression, and injustice. These threats disproportionately affect vulnerable and marginalized populations, including women and children. A core responsibility of the state to its citizens is protection against external and internal threats.123 Accountable and effective state security institutions are necessary for these functions.
6.7.2 Guidance for the Legitimate Monopoly Over the Means of Violence
6.7.3 Approach: Disarmament and Demobilization (DD)
Dealing with combatants is a first-order step in moving to peace. Disarming and demobilizing ex-combatants is a highly visible process that can increase public confidence in the peace process. Disarmament involves collecting and destroying weapons; demobilization involves dismantling military units and transitioning combatants to civilian life through orientation programs and transportation to their communities. Demobilization involves registering individuals and monitoring them in assembly camps while they await reintegration. Reintegration is typically grouped together with disarmament and demobilization and benefits from similar guidance points, but it is separated here to emphasize the unique challenges of successfully reinserting ex-combatants into society.
6.7.4 Start DD planning early. Strategic planning for disarmament and demobilization should commence before a peace process begins or at least while negotiations are still ongoing.124 This ensures that details of the DD program are entrenched in the peace agreement. Be careful not to rush the start of disarmament until sufficient peacekeeping troops are in place for security. The strategic planning period should address the role of the host nation government vice international agencies; define roles for implementing and monitoring the disarmament and demobilization program; identify rebel groups, government forces, and their weapons; determine eligibility for the DD program; and build confidence, buy-in, and host nation ownership. The role of women in DD programs has proven to be critical to their success, so be sure they are included.125 Build in flexible and realistic timetables to account for implementation delays and to build public confidence.
6.7.5 Tailor the DD strategy to local conditions.126 A great deal of information is needed to properly tailor a disarmament and demobilization program to the situation on the ground. Assess the nature of the conflict, the set of targeted clients, and the overall power balance among warring parties. For the disarmament phase, peacekeepers should collect information on the number, types, and locations of weapons used during the conflict, along with storage depot sites and stockpiles that exist throughout the country. In devising a demobilization program, be sure to profile combatant demographics, paying special attention to vulnerable groups, such as women and children.
6.7.6 Include details of disarmament and demobilization in the peace agreement. Details of the program must be entrenched within the peace agreement127 and broader peacebuilding strategies to minimize inconsistency in the implementation of disarmament and demobilization and the training of forces carrying out disarmament. In particular, the peace agreement should specify details where possible, such as when a cease-fire is to come into effect; flexible target dates and benchmarks for progress; the types of weapons and ammunition being collected and modes of their disposal; and the institutions that will implement the DDR and SSR programs. Participants in the process can include formal national security forces, paramilitary units, intelligence operatives, private militias, or other armed groups, as well as non-combatants who supported those groups.
6.7.7 Provide credible security guarantees to build confidence in disarmament.128 The provision of credible security guarantees helps ensure that disarmament and demobilization participants have the confidence to give up their weapons. The peacekeeping force must have the capacity to provide this security at all phases of the program, particularly at demobilization camps where many ex-combatants gather while waiting to be reintegrated into society. This also means paying close attention to the balance of power among factions throughout the process. International support can lend credibility to these efforts, by overseeing disarmament and demobilization implementation or participating in a national oversight commission to ensure that disarmament rates among rivals are comparable.129 This support should also ensure that disarmament violations are investigated, confronted, and corrected.
6.7.8 Maximize host nation ownership in the disarmament and demobilization strategy. Ownership requires not just the buy-in of the host nation government, but the participation of the community and civil society, and the political will of the parties.130 Ownership may be difficult to achieve in the immediate aftermath of a conflict because capacity is low. In the transition, a robust partnership between host nation and international actors is essential, where host nation actors provide the drive and international actors provide the necessary technical capacity. International actors should maintain active consultation with host nation actors to maximize ownership.
6.7.9 Inform the population to build popular support. A strong public information and education campaign that boosts transparency and accountability is essential to a successful disarmament and demobilization campaign.131 Sensitizing the population to the objectives of the program will build confidence for the effort and demonstrate the importance of accepting ex-combatants into communities to give them a chance at an alternative life. The information campaign should also inform combatants of their rights and obligations in the process, details on disarmament and cantonment sites, as well as the benefits of participation.
6.7.10 Aim for inclusivity of all warring parties. Disarmament and demobilization programs are most successful when all parties to the conflict demonstrate a desire to abide by the terms of and participate in the broader peace process. In turn, the program must include and treat all warring parties equitably, regardless of gender, race, class, or political positions.132 The rate of disarmament among different warring parties should be comparable to avoid a sudden change in the balance of military power.
6.7.11 Include affected nontraditional combatants. The disarmament and demobilization program must carefully consider vulnerable groups within the ex-combatant community, such as female and child soldiers, disabled and chronically ill individuals, as well as the families of combatants whose livelihoods may have been derived from militias.133 Many of these individuals may not have carried guns but were involved in the logistics of the conflict. Programs should also be “gender-aware” (both male and female), which includes having a clear understanding of gender relations in the country, an understanding of masculinities and patterns of male violence, as well as female-specific interventions to ensure women have the same access to disarmament and demobilization benefits as do men.
6.7.12 Ensure accountability to human rights standards through identification.134 Registration and identification of ex-combatants can ensure that the bad guys are not inadvertently reintegrated into state security forces and are prevented from sabotaging or subverting the peace process. Identification can also encourage participation in representative government, aid in resolving property disputes, and be used to validate professional credentials. Creating an identification program can involve securing documents on personal information, including identification cards, land titles, court records, professional certificates, voter registration, birth certificates, and driving licenses.
6.7.13 Ensure that DD is civilian-led, with technical input and operational support from international forces. Disarmament and demobilization is largely a civilian effort, though the military has a critical role in the methodology for disarmament and ensuring security during this process. Overall, DD requires high levels of coordination  between civilians and the military. The military has a big role in disarmament; military and civilians assist in demobilization, while civilians are primarily involved in the reintegration phase of the conventional DDR program.135
6.7.14 Approach: Reintegration of Ex-Combatants
Reintegration is a social and economic process in which ex-combatants return to community life and engage in alternative livelihoods to violence.136 Integrating ex-combatants into civilian life gives ex-combatants a stake in the peace and reduces the likelihood that they will turn to criminal activity or join insurgent groups to support themselves if they cannot find gainful employment. Reintegration activities include creating microenterprises, providing education and training, and preparing communities to receive ex-combatants.137 Reintegration is attached to the DDR process, but in reality it requires the attention, resources, and expertise of a very specific set of social and economic actors. It is a big gap for peacebuilders. Economic aspects of reintegration are further discussed in Section 9.6.17. Education for demobilized soldiers is addressed in Section 10.6.12.
6.7.15 Prepare for reintegration to be the most sensitive and difficult phase of DDR. The reintegration of former combatants is the most politically sensitive element of the conventional DDR program and thus presents a more complex challenge than either disarmament or demobilization. While DD processes are time-bound and quantifiable, reintegration is much less discrete, making it harder to implement, monitor, and measure for success. Successful reintegration requires deep understanding of the social and economic needs of the combatants, as wielding weapons may have become a major part of their identity or livelihood. Reintegration also requires careful treatment of psychosocial impacts for child soldiers or women and girls who were abused during violent conflict.138 Another reintegration challenge involves preparing and convincing host communities to accept ex-combatants into their neighborhoods. In particular, consider the risk of displacing women who may have assumed head-of-household responsibilities during the conflict.139
See Gap/Challenge: Section 6.11.5, Reintegration of ex-combatants.
6.7.16 Avoid making ex-combatants a privileged class by integrating them into broader recovery strategies aimed at all conflict-affected populations. While ex-combatants may need special attention to prevent them from destabilizing the peace, paying exclusive attention to them risks generating resentment from the broader population. Other groups also requiring substantial social and economic support include refugees, IDPs, women, and children who were victims of the conflict. Security should be balanced with equity. As much as possible, integrate strategies for ex-combatants with broader strategies addressing resettlement and rehabilitation for displaced populations, reconciliation efforts, rule of law, and governance.140 Doing so will also help to prevent ex-combatants from becoming stigmatized or isolated from the rest of the community.
6.7.17 Sustain international support for the reintegration process.141 International actors often show great enthusiasm for disarmament and demobilization, and they fund these programs based on peacekeeping assessments in UN missions. But their commitment to reintegration programs may be less certain. Inadequacy of resources has frequently hampered reintegration efforts in the past.142 Successful reintegration requires a prompt and sustained commitment of international financial and technical assistance for many years.
6.7.18 Approach: Security Sector Reform
Security sector reform is the set of policies, plans, programs, and activities that a government undertakes to improve the way it provides safety, security and justice.143 Developing an integrated system of actors, institutions and oversight bodies is the only mechanism through which the government can provide security. All security forces must always be subordinate to and act at the direction of a legitimate civilian authority. This is challenging in societies emerging from conflict where the population may retain a deeply ingrained perception of security institutions as self-serving and dangerous as opposed to existing for the protection of the public.144
See Gap/Challenge: Section 6.11.1, Security sector reform.
6.7.19 Ensure that reforms reflect the security needs of the host nation population.145 Reforms cannot be imposed from the outside and should reflect the needs and priorities of the population. The success of SSR principles, policies, laws, and structures depends heavily on consideration of unique local history, culture, legal framework, and institutions. Transform the culture of insecurity by supporting new institutions and forces that operate in accordance with democratic principles, the rule of law, and respect for human rights. Promote the participation of women in new ministries and security forces.146 Building a police force should also be prioritized over the military, as internal threats are more likely to pose a greater threat to security than external threats.147 Police are better equipped and trained to handle common threats to public order, such as arms trafficking and transnational organized crime.
6.7.20 Strengthening security forces is not enough; promote good governance and legitimate civilian oversight to ensure long-term accountability.148 The focus for SSR has been skewed toward building new military and police forces. While important, more attention must be paid to strengthening civilian oversight mechanisms for accountability of those forces over the long term. Oversight should come from across the government, as well as civil society and the media. Legislative committees, for example, can call ministers and other military/intelligence leaders before them to account for proper use of public funds. When building training platforms and providing material assistance to security forces, also provide infrastructure, personnel, and administrative support for civilian oversight institutions. Good governance over the security sector is also discussed in Section 8.6.13.
6.7.21 Prevent infiltration of security forces through robust vetting. Police forces may comprise individuals who have committed human rights violations or who are corrupt. Lustration or vetting may be necessary. Vetting requires a great deal of time and resources. It typically begins with identification. For example, in the police, there are often no records to confirm whether someone was indeed on the police roster. Set up stringent recruiting criteria to eliminate incompetent or corrupt individuals. Develop effective monitoring and auditing mechanisms to maintain those standards.149 Also keep in mind that widespread vetting and lustration early on can pose risks by eliminating the majority of human capital from the police forces. Balance this risk against the harm that may ensue if human rights violators are allowed to remain in the force and contravene rule of law standards. Recruit only individuals, not groups, to avoid allowing groups to consolidate control in a force that is still weak. Ensure that the force is representative of the population in terms of gender, ethnicity, religion, and language.150 For a discussion of vetting the judiciary, see Section 7.6.18.
6.7.22 Focus on public service ethos and competence when training security forces. Instilling concepts of human rights and accountability will restore confidence in the security forces over the long term. Communicating these concepts to the population can also help build support for the security forces. Focus on competence through imparting technical knowledge and skills, including those for management, investigation, intelligence, search and seizure, and forensics. Also work closely with senior-level police, whose buy-in and political support will be critical to the success of reform and bringing about cultural change in the whole organization. Provide gender-sensitive training for forces with specific attention to the need to prevent and treat gender-based violence.151
6.7.23 Support the improvement of police-community relations and police responsiveness. Historic mistrust and lack of respect for the police makes people turn to other forms of justice. For the police to be seen as a force for good, community-police relations need to be improved. Relations can be fostered through community policing committees or consultative fora where the community has an opportunity to share their concerns with the police. Information gathered from the public about general public order problems or specific incidents can both have a preventative effect and aid police investigations. Consultations also help enhance the responsiveness of the police.152 Other ways to enhance police responsiveness are to ensure there are more officers on foot or bicycle patrol, making them more accessible to the public, and to train police to courteously explain the reasons for their actions.
6.7.24 Ensure coherence of strategy and effort among major actors.153 SSR is highly cooperative in nature and should involve the military, intergovernmental organizations, NGOs, multinational partners, civil society, media, and the host nation. The security sector comprises all actors who collectively provide security:154
  • Core actors directly involved in protecting civilians and the state from violent harm (e.g., police and military forces and internal intelligence agencies)

  • Institutions that govern these actors (e.g., ministries of interior, defense, and justice, and national security councils)

  • Oversight bodies.
Reform of any of these elements must be conducted in tandem with other reform activities in the security sector. A weak justice system, for example, can undermine any benefits of policing by enabling organized crime, corruption, extrajudicial killings, and petty crime.155 It can also lead to a militarized security or the use of forces outside of the appropriate human rights and justice frameworks.
6.7.25 Promote the civil authority of the state; long-term stability depends on it.156 S&R missions are no longer dominated by traditional military tasks (e.g., interpositioning, supervising ceasefires, verifying peace agreement compliance). While the military is still crucial for containing hardcore militants, pursuing insurgents, interdicting arms supply chains, or confronting obstructionists to the peace process,157 it should always act at the direction of the civilian authority to ensure support for the broader political strategy.