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Reintegrating former fighters in the Congo: ambitious objectives, limited results


international peacekeeping coverJournal abstract

Current scholarly works in International Relations grew increasingly preoccupied over the effectiveness and programmatic failure of international assistance, especially with regard to issues pertaining to the ‘security–development’ nexus and the post-9/11 ‘securitization’ agenda. Complex Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) programmes implemented worldwide since the late 1980s became a key component of international post-conflict intervention. With the extension of UN peacebuilding operations, DDR packages, which initially embraced short-term security goals in mere support of negotiated peace settlements, now entail significantly broader development objectives. Located at the interface of security and development approaches, DDR’s third phase, reintegration, has yielded limited outcomes despite growing efforts to implement long-term economic and social recovery activities. Using micro-level data derived from extensive fieldwork conducted in the Democratic Republic of Congo, this article argues that the challenges encountered in implementing reintegration might originate from high politicization of programme outcomes and recurrent neglect of local programme recipients and the socio-economic context in which they evolve. Despite formal endorsement of broad development objectives, this affected reintegration processes and their outcomes since what was really implemented consisted mainly of minimal activities prioritizing immediate security gains.

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