The process of disarming, demobilizing and reintegrating ex-soldiers at conflict’s end is as old as war itself. The results of these efforts are far from even. Even so, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) has assumed a central place in the imagination of the peace, security and development communities. It is frequently advanced as a key pillar of multilateral and bilateral stabilization and reconstruction efforts at war’s end. Yet, the contexts in which DDR is conducted are also changing. As the United Nations and others grapple with the new geographies of organized violence, it is hardly surprising that they are also adapting their approaches. Organizations operating in war zones (and also outside of them) are struggling to identify ways of ‘disengaging’ Al Shabaab in Somalia or northern Kenya, Jihadi fighters in Syria and Iraq, Taliban remnants in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and Boko Haram militia in Nigeria. There are increasingly complex legal and operational challenges for those involved in DDR about when, how and with whom to engage. In order to effectively engage with these dilemmas, this article considers the evolving form and character of DDR programs. In the process, it considers a host of opportunities and obstacles confronting scholars and practitioners in the twenty first century, offering insights on future trajectories.
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