Contributing to peace and development by strengthening DDR
Established in 1963, the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) is a dedicated training arm of the United Nations, with a mission to help Member States develop the capacities of individuals, organisations and institutions to enhance global decision-making and to support country-level action for shaping a better future. Guided by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and other international agreements, UNITAR works in several key thematic areas that aim to promote peace, human well-being, planet conservation, sustainable prosperity and the cross-fertilisation of knowledge by strengthening multilateralism. The Institute also conducts research on innovative learning approaches, methods and tools, as well as applied research to address critical issues such as disaster risk reduction and humanitarian emergencies.
Within UNITAR, the Division for Peace supports the building of peaceful, just and inclusive societies by empowering individuals, institutions and organisations to contribute meaningfully to sustainable peace. The pillars that integrate the Division, including Recovery and Resilience (R&R), apply an innovative and comprehensive set of learning and knowledge-sharing methodologies that are specifically tailored to the needs of beneficiaries and aim to transform attitudes and behaviours.
Among the thematic areas covered by the R&R pillar, Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR) is perhaps one of the most strategic in its mission to contribute to stabilisation and peace-building efforts in conflict-affected countries. UNITAR’s work on DDR seeks to support national, regional and international actors and practitioners by building and strengthening their capacities to implement both emerging and traditional programmes and processes in accordance with international standards and guidelines, such as the UN Integrated Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration Standards (IDDRS) and the African Union’s Operational Guidance Notes (OGNs).
Over the course of 2022, UNITAR’s involvement in this area has been significant in terms of knowledge sharing and capacity building for DDR practitioners, policy makers and other strategic stakeholders. This has been achieved in collaboration with other members of The Integrated DDR Training Group, as evidenced by the following:
- As part of the joint BICC-DPO-UNITAR initiative to provide trainers with the necessary skills and knowledge on the revised IDDRS, an online training of trainers was provided for practitioners with more advanced operational and/or policy experience in DDR, as well as training design and facilitation skills. In order to broaden the geographical reach, the online course was translated into French and the scenario-based online course was opened to interested participants, who can access it on the UNITAR website. Within the same initiative, and with the aim of further strengthening skills and knowledge, UNITAR contributed to the design of the face-to-face training Support to the Disengagement, Disassociation, Reintegration and Reconciliation (DDRR) Steering Committee in Chad in Developing a DDRR Strategy for Former Associates to Boko Haram and the Islamic State – West Africa Province.
- As an active member of the UN Inter-Agency Working Group on Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (IAWG-DDR) and The Integrated DDR Training Group, UNITAR has participated in the revision and updating of the Integrated Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration Standards (IDDRS). In this field, UNITAR offers a self-paced online course “UN Approach to DDR” available in English and French.
- As part of efforts to support the dissemination and capacity development of the revised UN approach to DDR and, in particular, DDR-related tools, UNITAR and the DDR Section of the UN Department of Peace Operations organised and conducted a workshop on Community Violence Reduction (CVR). Based on the principles of Systems Thinking, participants, all with extensive experience in DDR contexts, analysed the complexity of CVR, assessed current gaps and challenges, and critically reflected on opportunities for intervention to strengthen DDR processes.
- With the aim of creating a common understanding of key DDR-related concepts and processes among practitioners working in African contexts, UNITAR, together with the World Bank, has supported the African Union in the intersection of conflict prevention and response, in particular early warning systems and DDR-related activities in priority settings. This has been done through the dissemination and operationalisation of the African Union OGN’s on DDR with two different focuses: weapons and ammunition management, in partnership with the Regional Centre on Small Arms and Light Weapons (RECSA); and counter-violent extremism, in partnership with the Cairo International Centre for Peacekeeping, Peacebuilding and Conflict Resolution (CCCPA).
For this year 2023 and the years to come, UNITAR will continue to strengthen ties with IDDRTG colleagues and contribute to the UN system’s Member States in the search for creative solutions to transfer knowledge, build capacity and transform attitudes needed to solve the pressing challenges of this complex world.