Rwanda's programme of disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration is distinctive for the minimal involvement of the UN. The programme's success raises important questions about local ownership in peacebuilding efforts.
By Martin Edmonds, Greg Mills, and Terence McNamee, Director of Publications
Rwanda is at the centre of one of the key areas for the United Nations’ Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR) activities: Africa’s conflict prone Great Lakes region. Yet Rwanda has adopted a unique and, in many ways, radically different DDR program to that of its neighbours, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), one that finds the UN playing no direct role. In part, this is a consequence of circumstances and experience. Above all, it reflects sharp contrasts in the quality of leadership and strategic vision within the region. As a result, Rwanda has proven itself a model for the continent as a whole, a fact that poses a number of challenges not just to current thinking on DDR in Africa but also to wider Security Sector Reform (SSR). Rwanda’s successful program begs the question of other conflict-affected countries in the region where peacebuilding has proved less successful: ‘How important is local ownership of DDR in the Great Lakes?’
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