The Link Between DDR and SSR in Conflict-Affected Countries

Policy Paper
May 25, 2010


  • Disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR) and security sector reform (SSR) processes should be interrelated and mutually reinforcing. As DDR and SSR share the same objective--consolidation of the state’s monopoly of force to uphold the rule of law--they succeed or fail together and should be planned, resourced, implemented, and evaluated in a coordinated manner. The natural point of intersection for DDR and SSR is in the reintegration phase, as many ex-combatants find employment in the security apparatus that SSR creates.
  • DDR helps ensure the long-term success of SSR, as it shifts ex-combatants into the new security forces, where they no longer threaten the state’s monopoly of force. If done properly, this reenforces the peace settlement by fostering mutual trust between former enemies, encouraging further disarmament and transition into civilian life.
  • SSR helps ensure the long-term success of DDR, as security-sector governance includes ministry programs that provide for the welfare of former combatants. This focus prevents ex-combatants from becoming insurgents or joining criminal gangs. At the same time, effective SSR produces professional security forces that can control spoilers and contain violence.
  • DDR and SSR together promote development by preserving resources and infrastructure, freeing and managing labor, and supporting reconciliation that encourages investment and entrepreneurship. They also promote the interests of women, minorities, and former child soldiers, who should be supported in a consistent manner between the two programs.

About the Report

This report reflects views expressed during a March 5, 2010, conference held at the National Defense University entitled "Monopoly of Force: The Link between DDR and SSR," cosponsored by the United States Institute of Peace and the Center for Complex Operations. The conference sought to dispel the notion that there is no connection between disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR) and security sector reform (SSR). The conference determined that, in reality, DDR and SSR are interrelated and mutually reinforcing and should occur simultaneously in a holistic manner.

The report also reflects the work of the Institute’s Initiative for Security Sector Governance and the practical experience of the author, Sean McFate, an assistant professor at National Defense University and a fellow at the New America Foundation. Professor McFate worked in DDR and SSR programs in Africa, advised Amnesty International USA on the issue, and served as a captain in the U.S. Army ’s 82nd Airborne Division. He holds double BAs from Brown University, an MPP from the Harvard Kennedy School, and is completing his doctorate at the London School of Economics.

The views expressed in this report are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of National Defense University or the United States Institute of Peace, which does not advocate specific policy positions.

Download the full report here.

Copyright 2010 United States Insitute for Peace.

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