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Integration or separation? The stigmatisation of ex-combatants after war

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 October 2012


Ex-combatant reintegration programmes are buttressed by a number of problematic assumptions about ex-combatants themselves; namely, that ex-combatants should not receive long-term support because such assistance would amplify the threat they pose to security and exacerbate community resentment towards them. The article uses data collected from Liberia to demonstrate that such thinking stigmatises ex-combatants and works against the objective of reintegration: it disrupts integration into the everyday social, economic, and political life of the post-conflict state and aims instead to render ex-combatants separate from communities. Integration will remain elusive unless assumptions about ex-combatants as programme beneficiaries are challenged.

Copyright © British International Studies Association 2012

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46 UNMIL, May 2009 Hotspot, p. 3; UNMIL, August 2008 Hotspot, p. 2.

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48 Willett, ‘Barbarians’, p. 574.

49 Tilly, ‘War Making’, pp. 173, 184.

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53 UNMIL, August 2008 Hotspot, pp. 2, 5.

54 UNMIL, May 2009 Hotspot, p. 4.

55 Ibid., p. 11.

56 Ibid., p. 9.

57 Ibid.

58 Pugel, What the Fighters Say, p. 3.

59 UNDP, Practice Note, p. 38.

60 UNMIL, August 2008 Hotspot, p. 4.

61 Author's interview with ex-combatant, Sinoe Rubber Plantation, Sinoe County (10 June 2009).

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66 Ibid., p. 41.

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68 Ibid., p. 19; Tamagnini and Krafft, ‘Strategic Approaches’, p. 17.

69 Author's interviews with UNMIL/RRR officials, Monrovia (8–19 June 2009).

70 UNSC, ‘Eighth Progress Report’, paras 15–24.

71 Pugel, What the Fighters Say, p. 61.

72 Pablo de Greiff, ‘A Normative Conception of Transitional Justice’, in Dealing with the Past, Politorbis No. 50 (2010), p. 18. Elsewhere, de Greiff treats this similar theme, arguing that ‘the idea of compensation in proportion to harm as an unproblematic criterion of justice’ ought to give way to a conception of ‘three goals which are intimately related to justice, namely, recognition, civic trust, and social solidarity’: de Greiff, Pablo, ‘Justice and Reparations’, in de Greiff, Pablo (ed.), The Handbook of Reparations (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006), pp. 451–77CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

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78 Ibid., p. 57.

79 Republic of Liberia, Vol. III Title VII, p. 14.

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97 Information regarding plantations was obtained via author interviews with UNMIL officials, ex-combatants, Sinoe plantation residents, and local NGOs in Monrovia, Greenville, Sinoe County, and Sinoe Rubber Plantation (June 2009), and at Guthrie Rubber Plantation (April 2007).

98 Bøås and Hatløy, ‘Getting In’, p. 49; Jennings, ‘Struggle to Satisfy’, p. 52.

99 Hill et al., ‘Would You Fight Again?’ p. 5. See also Christian Bugnion, Luc Lafrenière, Sam Doe, Hirut Tefferi and Cerue Garlo, External Mid-term Evaluation Report of the DDRP in Liberia (Monrovia: UNMIL, 2 October 2006), p. 41.

100 Author's interview with local county official, UNHCR coordinator, and NCDDRR official, Lofa County (16 April 2007).

101 Pugel, What the Fighters Say, pp. 2, 5.

102 Peter Uvin, Ex-combatants in Burundi: Why They Joined, Why They Left, How They Fared, MDRP Working Paper No. 3 (Washington, DC: World Bank, October, 2007), pp. 20–1.

103 International DDR consultant, conference panel, International parliamentary conference on peacebuilding: tackling state fragility programme, London (30 Jan. 2010). The UNDP Practice Note says the same thing (p. 11).

104 UNDP, Practice Note, pp. 34, 37.

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108 Author's interview with UNICEF official, Monrovia (9 June 2009).

109 Harold J. Monger, Impact Assessment Report on Infrastructure for Employment Projects (Monrovia: Ministry of Public Works, UNMIL, World Bank, and UNDP, 2008), p. 31.

110 Author's interview with UNDP official, Monrovia (15 June 2009).

111 Author's interview with NCDDRR official, Monrovia (9 June 2009).

112 Such strategic essentialism is well documented elsewhere: see Schafer, Jessica, ‘A Baby Who Does Not Cry Will Not be Suckled: AMODEG and the Reintegration of Demobilized Soldiers’, Journal of Southern African Studies, 24:1 (1998), pp. 736CrossRefGoogle Scholar; and Spivak, Gayatri C., ‘Can the Subaltern Speak?’, in Nelson, Cary and Grossberg, Lawrence (eds), Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1988), p. 298Google Scholar.

113 Uvin, Ex-combatants in Burundi, p. 20; see also Jones, Owen, Chavs: The Demonisation of the Working Class (London: Verso, 2011)Google Scholar.

114 UNDP, Practice Note, p. 52.

115 UNGA, A/65/741, para. 9. See also IDDRS

116 UNDP, Practice Note, p. 5; see also IDDRS and UNDP, Report on the Reintegration of Demobilized Soldiers in Mozambique (1992–1996) (New York: UNDP, 1997), p. 28Google Scholar.

117 Bugnion et al., Mid-term Evaluation, p. 37.

118 McCandless, Second Generation, p. 4.

119 UNGA, A/65/741, para. 26.

120 Keen, ‘Tale of Two Wars’, p. 515.

121 UNGA, A/65/741, paras 41–5; UN Office for West Africa, Youth Unemployment and Regional Insecurity in West Africa (December 2005); Jennings, ‘Struggle to Satisfy’, p. 214.

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