Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration Planning Course

”I realised the other day that I was the only native English speaker there, and I said to myself you’d better do well, Ben, because you have got a big advantage here. It’s such a multi-cultural course.”

Mr Ben Potter from the UK, working as a DDR coordinator for the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) in Mogadishu, Somalia, was one of the students on the Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR) Planning Course, which just finished at SWEDINT.

The DDR Planning course enables the participants to effectively take part in the planning and preparation phase of a present or future DDR program. Photo: Jan Gustafsson - SWEDINT/NCGM
The course program is based on the United Nations Integrated Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration Standards (IDDRS), as well as practitioners’ best practices. Photo: Jan Gustafsson - SWEDINT/NCGM

The course is not intended as an introduction to DDR but rather as a continuation of existing introductory courses, and most of the participants are already  at work in a DDR programme somewhere. Mr Potter in a quite difficult one, in the ongoing confllict in Somalia.

”It’s a very challenging and complex context, but that is why I want to be there. DDR in Somalia is very different to the traditional DDR, when a peace agreement has already been done”, says mr Potter. ”One of the most refreshing insights for me was early on when I realised that even for me in an ongoing conflict, I can pick and chose various parts of the UN Operational Guide for DDR, and mould that to the context that I’m in.”

Ms Isa Macedoine is a Sierra Leone national, now working for the United Nations’ DDR programme in Darfur, the Sudan. Her first experience working with DDR was at home in Sierra Leone, and after that in Haiti. Ms Macedoine is clear about the benefits of the course.

 ”Personally, for me, it’s two things: Learning from the instructors and the other students, but then also an opportunity for self-evaluation in terms of my capacity. I’ve worked in the field of DDR since 2003, but still there are things that you need to learn.” 

The DDR course is conducted through a combination of presentations, videos, syndicate discussions and scenario exercises. Facilitators present and discuss with the participants, and syndicate groups solve scenario-based problems and present solutions to the plenary. The syndicates are mixed in order to prepare the students for the work in an integrated UN-mission.

”There is a wealth of experiece here”, says mr Potter. And the mix of military and humanitarian is great because we operate in the same space, particularly in ongoing conflicts like in Somalia. So as you talk and listen to the others and get their experience you can formulate your own ideas about you can apply it to your own context.  Also the instructors, it’s been really useful for me talking to them outside the lectures. We live in the same student hotel, we eat together and so on, and there are many benefits with that.”

The DDR-course is held annually at SWEDINT.