Bridging the Gap: The United Nations Peacebuilding Commission and the Challenges of Integrating DDR and Transitional Justice

While peacebuilding is a long-term and complex endeavor, a cacophony of actors and agendas, together with a persistent tendency to focus on short-term needs at the expense of long-term priorities, stymie efforts to build lasting peace. Complex problems call for innovative and integrated interventions. The staples of post-conflict peacebuilding — including, disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR), security sector reform (SSR), rule of law initiatives, and transitional justice mechanisms ranging from prosecutions to truth commissions — are meant to serve overlapping constituencies and common purposes. In practice, however, such initiatives have often operated on separate tracks, leading to redundancy, avoidable tensions, and lost opportunities. This article focuses on the special challenges that arise out of the need to develop more integrated approaches to DDR and transitional justice and argues that the United Nations Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) must play a stronger role in bringing together this and other pieces of the post-conflict puzzle. Even though the possibility of tension between transitional justice mechanisms and DDR programs cannot be eliminated, careful attention to areas of overlap should be part of innovative and integrated approaches to post-conflict peacebuilding going forward in order to advance common goals. The gains of such an approach would be modest, but worthwhile.

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