Contributing to Peace and Justice: Finding a Balance Between DDR and Reparations

Thursday, August 30, 2007
Pablo de Greiff

It is obvious that one stands in new territory when the first task that the introduction of a paper has to do is to explain the very choice of topics. What is the point of comparing disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programs (DDR) and reparations programs? After all, aren't these very different programs serving different constituencies, and, most importantly, different ends? Isn't it the case that DDR programs are part of the tool box of peace makers and builders as well as development practitioner, whereas reparations programs can be located (if at all) in that of the justice or human rights practitioner? In actual fact, DDR programs have traditionally been designed and implemented in total isolation from transitional justice measures, of which reparations for victims is one kind. Indeed, it is only recently that the traditional approach that considers DDR as essentially a technical issue to be decided exclusively on the basis of military and security concerns with no regard for political or justice considerations has begun to be questioned. While there are now a few documents that argue for the introduction of justice-related considerations into DDR programming, these are still not just few in number but also tentative in nature.

The incentives to try to bring the worlds of the peace maker and of the justice and human rights promoter together are manifold. In the first place, it should be acknowledged that the international legal domain has changed in the recent past. The two most visible manifestations of this change are, perhaps, the (new) disposition to act in accordance with (an older) prohibition against granting amnesties for war crimes and crimes against humanity, and the not unrelated establishment of the International Criminal Court which will now make the effects of any national amnesty for such crimes internationally moot, at least in theory. Peacemaking, then, now has to be practiced in a way that accommodates at the very least these broad justice concerns.

Aside from these legal considerations, there has of course been a long discussion within the peace building and even the peace making arenas about the role of justice. The long negative v. positive peace debate is at least partly about this. Since I have never taken this debate to be about whether negative peace is the best that can be hoped for, but rather about what we ought to be prepared to pay in order to get it (so that then other more substantive goals can be pursued), this means that there are incentives for thinking about the relationship between peace and justice internal to the sphere of peace itself (just as, of course, justice and human rights promoters have a reason to take peace considerations seriously, for war is one of the conditions least conducive to respect for justice and rights).

Although this is a paper written from the standpoint of someone who works in the field of transitional justice, its general aim is to construct an argument about the advisability of drawing some links –to be specified—between DDR and reparations programs, but not just because this is better from the standpoint of justice; the argument is that this may help DDR programs as well. Given this aim, I will of course continue to grant significance from the standpoint of justice to the fact that while in circles where DDR is discussed there is strong support for the idea that each and every ex-combatant should be a beneficiary of a DDR program, there is, neither in the national nor in the international domain, a similar commitment to the idea that each and every victim of conflict should be made a beneficiary of a reparations program; I will continue to grant significance, from the standpoint of justice, to the observation that the international community acts consistently with its rhetoric, at least at this level, and thus provides much more support for peace and security issues than for justice issues; and I will consider significant that of the 22 countries with ongoing DDR programs in a recent global study, programs involving 1.25 million beneficiaries, and the expenditure of more than 2 billion dollars, a few have discussed the possibility of establishing reparations programs, but not one of these countries has implemented one. Ultimately, however, one way of seeing, at least initially, the nature of this paper is by considering that whether it satisfies its own end will be determined not so much by whether it successfully deploys justice considerations in the interest of justice, but whether it does so in the interest of peace.

Now, more specifically, the paper will proceed as follows: it will start with a brief presentation of the facts of two cases, Rwanda and Guatemala, countries that have moved significantly farther regarding DDR than (2). Then I will outline some of the fundamental challenges faced by DDR and reparations programs, respectively (3). In the next section I will present conceptions of transitional justice and of DDR that facilitate seeing why implementing DDR programs but no reparations program is problematic (4). The argument will capitalize on and reinforcing the trust-inducing potential of both DDR and transitional justice measures. If the argument is correct, a successful linkage of these measures will strengthen both DDR and transitional justice programs. Focusing on DDR, one of the main advantages this linkage offers to DDR programs is that it would help them mitigate one of the fundamental criticisms to which they have been subject, namely, that they reward bad behavior. In the last section I will provide some comments on the role of the international community in DDR and reparations programs (5). My hope is that by showing a potential synergy between a peace and security measure on the one hand and a justice measure on the other, the paper will contribute to the achievement of the aims of the Nuremberg Conference “Building a Future on Peace and Justice”, namely, “to promote a sustainable peace concept that comprises not only peace, but also justice, security, development and institutional reforms.”

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Contributing to Peace and Justice: Finding a Balance Between DDR and Reparations