UNDP’s focus on reintegrating ex-combatants brings a “sustaining peace” perspective by embedding preventive approaches as early as possible. This engagement is crucial to help prevent future instability, crisis and conflict. ©UNDP Darfur

 

As prepared for delivery.

Opening

Excellencies,

Distinguished Principals,

Esteemed Guests,

Colleagues,

Let me start by expressing my appreciation for the continued, productive collaboration between the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) with the Department of Peace Operations (DPO) -- our Inter-Agency Working Group co-chair in advancing the revision of the Integrated Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration Standards (IDDRS). 

It is worth recalling that recalling that both UNDP and DPO are founding members of the Inter-Agency Working Group on Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (IAWG-DDR) -- this joint inter-agency leadership, that has lasted for over a decade, continues to be crucial. 

I would like to express my deep gratitude to the Inter-Agency Working Group members for their time and immense dedication to this important task.

I would also like to thank Sweden and Germany for their generous support provided through the Folke Bernadotte Academy and Bonn International Center for Conversion (BICC), respectively -- that has enabled the Inter-Agency Working Group to come together to deliberate and agree on the Standards.

DDR and Development

Before we complete the formalities of this launch, I would encourage us all to take a step back and think about the fundamental aspect behind disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR). 

That is, the human component of DDR and explore why getting it right is a continued priority for us all.  The horror of violent conflict; its toll on human life and dignity; and the negative impact on sustainable development is the backdrop to DDR. 

In the context of armed conflicts, large numbers of ordinary people and their families form part of the ‘fighting forces’. Sometimes they are compelled; sometimes they volunteer in the search for a steady or reliable income; and sometimes they are attracted by an ideology or are driven by exclusion -- they need to find a group to which they “belong”. 

From Colombia to the Republic of Congo to the Philippines, we see different nuances of the same problem:  in the end, DDR is about people.

Regardless of these motivations or the causes of conflict -- as stabilization begins, and peace prevails, solutions need to be found for every woman, man child and their communities. 

The United Nations (UN) is deeply involved in identifying and implementing the appropriate pathways for these people. Examples include support to regional strategies, such as in the Lake Chad Basin and the Great Lakes -- or through programmes we manage in some 20 countries around the world. 

As the UN, our main aim is to ensure that fundamental international human rights norms are respected; that we stop impunity and we maximize the possibility for people to lead productive and dignified lives. 

I would also like to recognize the important work of Member States supporting DDR processes and ensuring persons formerly associated with armed groups have access to the support they need in order to become productive members of society. 

By doing this work, we are reducing the risk of a return to violence. We also help to ensure that countries can get back on a steady development track.

DDR is also a discrete process which takes place at a critical historical juncture. 

It is a moment where governments, the UN and partners do our best to support lifetime “reintegration journeys”.

Getting it right is critical to a country’s recovery and to achieve sustainable peace.

The Added Value of UNDP

In addition to our support of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and our strong country presence, UNDP is involved in DDR because excessive military expenditure and resource capture by armed groups drives away critical resources needed for development.

In the aftermath of conflict, UNDP works with governments to ensure that human and financial resources can be reorganized to support development efforts. For example, instead of paying the salaries of large numbers of dormant combatants, we enable them to become productive members of their communities.

Through DDR efforts, UNDP contributes specifically by restoring social and human capital as part of our broader effort for recovery and peacebuilding. For example, we have developed a community-based reintegration programme to address the spontaneous demobilization of combatants in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). 

We are also enabling the sustainable repatriation of ex-combatants and dependents from DRC to Rwanda, working with the Rwandese Demobilization and Reintegration Commission.  

Through these efforts, we are ensuring investment in individuals and communities in a manner which empowers community-level economic transformation as well as preventing “conflict risks” from taking root. 

UNDP’s focus on reintegration therefore brings a “sustaining peace” perspective by embedding preventive approaches as early as possible.  This engagement is crucial to help prevent future instability, crisis and conflict.

On the IDDRS and its Review

Given the complexity and delicacy of the work, we collectively decided in 2006 that we needed a unified, principled and coherent approach in the form of the Integrated DDR Standards. This body of work now frames the international engagement in DDR and has now been revised and updated to reflect the changing nature of conflict.

We have seen a marked increase in non-state armed conflicts since the end of the Cold War and these conflicts often end messily -- it is increasingly rare that we are working with well-crafted, formal peace agreements.

DDR continues to be important as the nature of conflict evolves. However, against a changing legal and political landscape, we have to be nimble to ensure that DDR is also evolving and adapting.

The revision of the IDDRS sought inspiration in the solutions that Member States have been adopting to challenges caused by protracted conflicts as well as the the lack of peaceful solutions for armed groups’ -- including those linked to organized crime and terrorism.

The IDDRS now reflects this new reality.

Having partners as diverse as the DPO, the World Bank, UNICEF and UNEP engaged in this process, demonstrates its complexity. I deeply appreciate this collaboration and the breadth of this platform which comprises of 25 members -- and welcome the African Union as an observer.

The revised IDDRS now provides the parameters for all actors across the humanitarian, development and peace spectrum. 

From governments wishing to ensure access to legal documentation; to the private sector contribution to creating jobs; to community-level psychosocial and health services for ex-combatants with disabilities and victims of sexual violence. 

It is also fit for purpose as we enter the Decade of Action for the SDGs.

Closing


I would like to call upon Member States -- conflict affected and donors alike -- to come forward to support of the reintegration of ex-combatants, associated groups, dependents, victims and receiving communities. 

Integrating DDR solutions within national and local development plans, addressing the specific needs and harnessing the capacities of women and girls and allocating financial resources for reintegration -- is a crucial part of prevention efforts. Reintegration should be at the heart of development plans; to enable us to prevent cycles of violence and to bring us closer to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

I would also like to recall that these commitments can only be delivered through collaboration -- not by the UN delivering “as one” -- but also through whole-of-government and whole-of-society approaches.

And given the cross-cutting nature of the challenges posed by ex-combatants and, in particular -- reintegration requires the continued engagement of humanitarian-development-peace actors.

In closing, I am delighted to join my colleague, Mr. Lacroix, in formally ‘gavelling’ the IDDRS.  

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