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Title: RETHINKING MILITIA DISARMAMENT Lessons From the Philippines, Colombia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Authors: Pesce, Jameson
Advisors: Kapstein, Ethan
Department: Woodrow Wilson School
Class Year: 2015
Abstract: How does a government convince combatants to disarm? Across the world, international organizations, nations, and local governments have struggled to convince militias to surrender their weapons after negotiating the end to a civil conflict. Implicit in this problem is Max Weber’s definition of a state as the institution that holds the monopoly on the legitimate use of physical force. After settling the conflict, the state wants the armed groups to disband and disarm because their presence undermines the government’s authority because it no longer holds the monopoly on the use of force. Additionally, if these groups remain armed, the government has no guarantees that they will not restart the conflict in an attempt to gain more concessions. However, after fighting against the government, many combatants are hesitant to surrender their weapons because they fear it will leave them vulnerable to retaliatory attacks. This can create a dangerous cycle where neither side is willing to give up its right to violence, which lowers confidence in the peace process and leaves society vulnerable to relapsing into conflict. To address this stalemate, the international community will often use DDR programs, which stand for disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration, to build confidence in the peace process. DDR programs seek to minimalize the threat the non-state actors present to the state by disarming and disbanding rebel organizations before helping the fighters reintegrate back into civilian life or the national security forces. This thesis evaluates the factors that promote successful DDR by comparing experiences from the Philippines, Colombia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The evidence includes macro evaluations that analyze the impact the programs have on the nation as a whole, and micro studies that rely on interviews and personal experiences to understand the mechanisms and motivations behind the DDR process. The results suggest that there are factors that can promote successful DDR and inspire increased confidence in the overall peace process. These factors are broken down eight hypotheses that are categorized under three themes: security concerns, reintegration support, and wider political reforms. These results hold implications for the structure of DDR programs and the policies and priorities that influence how international organizations and nations participate in stability operations. This thesis concludes by addressing the limitations and obstacles that face effective evaluation of DDR programs, and makes recommendations for follow up research and methods to mitigate these limitations.
Extent: 120 pages
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en_US
Appears in Collections:Woodrow Wilson School, 1929-2017

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