What Makes an Ex-Combatant Happy? A Micro-analysis of Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration in South Sudan

  • Citation: Phayal, Anup, Prabin Khadka, and Clayton L. Thyne. “What Makes an Ex-Combatant Happy? A Micro-Analysis of Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration in South Sudan.” International Studies Quarterly 59, no. 4 (December 2015): 654–68.
    • Topics:
    • Conflict Resolution and Peacebuilding
    • Keywords:
    • Africa South Sudan
    • DDR
    • post-conflict peacebuilding
    • ex-combatants
    • employment
    • security
    • ethnic tensions

Successful management of combatants through disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR) remains one of the main challenges of post-conflict peacebuilding. While DDR is meant to contribute to a secure post-conflict environment conducive to economic and political development, the success of DDR efforts remains mixed. Unlike previous work focusing on procedural aspects or post-conflict reconstruction and development, we shift the focus to understand microlevel conditions—economic, security, and ethnic concerns—that influence ex-combatants’ satisfaction with DDR. We argue that ex-combatant satisfaction with DDR should increase as individual-level economic conditions increase, as security situations improve, and as ethnic tensions decrease. We test our expectations using an original data set collected with field interviews and surveys from 122 ex-combatants in South Sudan in 2011–2012. We find that participants are more satisfied when their income-generating activity is based on DDR job training and when the UN has a large presence in their area. Concerns about political instability and an abundance of firearms make ex-combatants less satisfied with DDR.

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