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DDR and Stability in Africa. (french / français)

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1st Conference on DDR and Stability in Africa - Freetown, Sierra Leone 21-23 June 2005

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Final report of the Second International Conference on Disarmament, Demobilization, Reintegration and Stability in Africa, held in Kinshasa, The Democratic Republic of Congo, on 12-14 June 2007

In recent years, a significant number of African countries have emerged from conflict and are now undertaking disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) programmes. The importance of successful disarmament, demobilization and reintegration to preventing the recurrence of violence and creating the conditions for sustainable peace and development has been long recognized. However, there is ample evidence that current DDR practices often do not accomplish those objectives since there have been numerous instances of African countries relapsing into violence. In fact, about 50% of post-conflict countries in Africa revert back to conflict within five years.

In view of the importance of this issue to peace and development in Africa, OSAA organized an International Conference on DDR and Stability in Africa from 21 to 23 June 2005 in Freetown, Sierra Leone.  The Conference drew more than 100 participants, including delegates from 15 African countries, as well as representatives of a number of donor countries and international and regional organizations. The African participants represented a broad spectrum of DDR stakeholders, including government officials, current and former members of national DDR commissions, DDR practitioners and other experts, beneficiaries of DDR programmes, members of armed forces, representatives of host communities, women’s and civil society associations.

One of the recommendations of this conference was to strengthen the network of African DDR practitioners and build DDR capacity among African stakeholders by developing a regular and sustainable DDR evaluation process enabling the sharing of the practical experiences of African countries themselves as well as their international partners. For this purpose, it was recommended that consultative DDR reviews should take place at least every two years.

Accordingly OSAA organized, in cooperation with the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo and with support of the Governments of Belgium and Sweden, the Second International Conference on DDR and Stability in Africa from 12-14 June 2007 in Kinshasa.  The conference aimed at building on the achievements made at the Freetown Conference and focused on African-owned processes enhancing effective policy formulation and strategy implementation in African DDR programmes.

Focus of the Conference

The Kinshasa Conference brought African voices to the forefront on issues of DDR and stability and facilitated the dialogue, particularly amongst Africans, in order to identify best practices and lessons learned.

For this purpose, about 20 African countries were invited from different African sub-regions, as well as a number of substantive international experts.  The political significance of having the conference in Kinshasa was to highlight the importance of the newly established government after the successful presidential elections in July 2006.  The conference was pan-African in scope, with the intention of facilitating the sharing of experiences and perspectives from across the continent.  At the same time, the conference had a particular focus on DDR in the Great Lakes region.

Objectives of the Conference

The overall objective of this conference was to improve the effectiveness of DDR programmes in Africa in promoting peace and development after conflict.  In this regard it was emphasized that good governance is a pre-requisite for peace and stability in Africa.  Within this framework, the conference aimed to achieve the following objectives:

  1. To strengthen and build the capacity of African DDR practitioners and experts by providing them with a forum to share their experiences.  This builds on a key recommendation of the Sierra Leone conference, which was to foster networking by African DDR practitioners to facilitate both regional integration of DDR efforts and the sharing of knowledge, experience and best practices for improving DDR programmes across the continent.  The Kinshasa conference will develop, strengthen and expand this network.

  1. To enable and facilitate dialogue in Africa on selected issues of special importance in order to enhance understanding and develop recommendations.  Human rights, good governance, gender issues and community based approach should be considered as cross-cutting themes for all the specific subjects. In addressing the issues on disarmament and demobilization, the target population should be not only ex-combatants but also civilians who may have involved in the conflicts. The particular issues to be addressed in this conference will include:

    1. Combatants on Foreign Soil

    1. DDR and Transitional Justice

    1. Children and women associated with armed forces and groups

    1. The linkage between SSR and DDR

  1. To formulate recommendations based on the best practices and strategies for DDR programs in Africa, particularly in the issue areas identified above. 

  1. To draw further attention by African and international stakeholders to the importance of improving the overall political, social and economic environments in post-conflict countries, within a broad framework of Peacebuilding. Strengthening resettlement and rehabilitation programmes, governance, judicial and security systems, job creation and other sectors can help ensure effective follow-up to DDR programmes and prevent any slide back into conflict. While not part of DDR programmes as such, these are “cross-cutting” issues which can greatly influence the success of DDR and which require greater coordination by various national, regional and international actors. The Conference provided forum for interaction between African countries and the development partners.

Outcome of the Conference

The expected outcomes of the conference included:

  • Enhanced networking, particularly among African practitioners, and the establishment of a sustainable foundation for the network;
  • Development and cross-fertilization of knowledge and experience of DDR design, implementation and operation in Africa, enhancing Africa’s capacity for successful DDR and other programs intended to achieve sustainable peace and development after conflicts;
  • Greater understanding of the requirements of African practitioners and policy makers by their international cooperation partners for peace and development, including the donor community and UN system;
  • Practical recommendations for policy makers and programme designers to improve the formulation of DDR related policies and program orientation.