11 June 2010
Press Conference

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Press Conference to Launch Report ‘Second Generation Disarmament,

 

Demobilization and Reintegration Practices in Peace Operations’

 


With the scale and complexity of United Nations peacekeeping operations increasing dramatically over the past decade, new and innovative approaches to disarmament, demobilization and reintegration — driven more by practitioners in the field and their local partners than by diplomats in New York — were beginning to make a difference on the ground, a senior peacekeeping official said today.


“Headquarters is catching up to the realities on the ground,” said Ayaka Suzuki, Chief of the Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration Section in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, at a Headquarters press conference.  “As peacekeeping environments have changed, our colleagues in the field are adapting […] working with national partners to help consolidate peace.”


Launching the Department’s new report, Second Generation Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration Practices in Peace Operations, she said the complex situations in which peacekeeping operations were now deployed involved greater levels and diffusion of violence against civilians, often perpetrated by unregulated armed groups, such as militia and gangs that were not part of the broader political framework.


More than ever, peacekeepers were being thrust into settings where there was either “no peace to keep” or no traditional peace agreement in place, she said.  “What we have found is that our practitioners in the field had already adapted to these changes […] they are there to help national actors consolidate peace and will not sit idle if no comprehensive [disarmament, demobilization and reintegration] plan is in place.”  She added that the report was the Department’s attempt to document and take stock of those efforts where United Nations field staff had “come up with some truly innovative approaches in partnership with national and international actors”.


The 70-page study describes the new and innovative approaches that peacekeepers in the field are using to address new and emerging threats, drawing extensively on field research carried out in Haiti, Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia and Afghanistan.  To facilitate better understanding of the “second generation” concept, the study contrasts that new approach with “traditional disarmament, demobilization and reintegration”, which shares the same strategic aims as “second generation disarmament, demobilization and reintegration” — to support the peace process, create political space and contribute to a secure environment.


According to the report, the focus of second generation programmes shifts away from military structures towards larger communities affected by armed violence.  Instead of implementing the relevant provisions of a peace agreement, second generation activities are programmed locally, using an evidence-based approach.  Those efforts, reinforced by regular assessments, enable practitioners to more effectively and quickly adapt to new developments.


Ms. Suzuki, a 15-year veteran of the United Nations peacekeeping system, said: “Often at Headquarters we get caught up in processes.  And while, of course, policies are important and Security Council resolutions are important, we often lose sight of what is really happening on the ground.”  She went on to underscore that disarmament, demobilization and reintegration was not only about taking weapons from combatants and reintegrating former fighters into civilian life, it was also about opening political space, supporting a peace process and contributing to security.  Indeed, it was often one of the first major activities to be undertaken after a peacekeeping mission was deployed, and therefore a tremendous confidence-building measure for formerly warring parties, as well as the wider civilian public.


She said second generation disarmament, demobilization and reintegration aimed for the same strategic gaols as the traditional form, but focused on such areas as labour-intensive projects and specific, targeted interventions for women or former gang members, who could often become enablers of peace processes.  Citing an example of that innovative approach, she said that, just as the press conference had been getting under way, the Community Violence Reduction Programme in Haiti had been bringing the opening game of the 2010 FIFA World Cup live to the people of that earthquake-ravaged country.


Since early January, millions of Haitians, especially those living in camps in and around the virtually flattened capital, Port-au-Prince, had had no access to basic services, including electricity, she said.  Frustrations were high and tensions were understandably rising, particularly in the city’s notorious slums.  The coordinators of the Community Violence Reduction Programme, working with local and international civil society organizations, had managed to ship in huge television screens from Chicago, and to install them in a football stadium to bring the World Cup live to thousands of Haitians.


“This means a great deal.  Haitians love football, and for young and old people alike to share something together […] bringing such hope, is contributing to a better environment,” she said.  While that might not be the best example of some of the work under way in the field, it was certainly a concrete and innovative initiative under way on the ground to adapt to and address local-level needs, she added.  “This shows one of the unique things about this approach: it was not developed in the Security Council Chamber here in New York.  Our colleagues did this because they are there on the ground and they have partnerships with local actors.”


That approach was also a sign of the ways in which peacekeeping was evolving beyond merely implementing peace agreements, she noted.  Indeed, provided with robust, multidimensional mandates that often involved civilian protection or even peacebuilding activists, peacekeepers were now more than ever a part of the societies in which they were deployed.  “So, modern peacekeeping cannot exist without partnerships and strong relationships between [the United Nations] and the many agencies and organizations working on the ground,” Ms. Suzuki said.


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For information media • not an official record