Disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR), security system reform (SSR) and small arms control in Liberia


In 2003, following the end of the war in Liberia, a comprehensive process of disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration of ex-combatants was begun. DDR was followed by limited SSR in 2004 and small arms and light weapons (SALW) control in 2005.

Entry point

DDR, small arms control and SSR are related if distinct categories of intervention in post-conflict contexts. In Liberia DDR provided a platform for intervention in the immediate post-confl ict environment, and small arms control and SSR were integrated at a later stage. Baseline assessments and studies undertaken to shape DDR — including a review to determine appropriate levels of security services for meeting national needs and the availability of small arms — proved crucial for the small arms and
SSR programmes that followed.

Lessons learned

DDR, SSR and SALW control should be integrated — The integration of DDR, SSR and SALW control initiatives prior to and during the post-conflict recovery process increases the sustainability of peacebuilding.

Poor performance in one component of DDR can undermine SSR and SALW control — unrealistic expectations in disarmament initiatives led to riots in Monrovia after ex-combatants received mixed messages concerning cash payments for weapons surrender. Moreover, weak entry criteria and a shortage of qualified personnel staffing the screening process contributed to the admission of too many ex-combatants, leading to funding shortfalls.

Regional approaches to DDR, SSR and SALW control are essential to increasing programme performance — During the disarmament phase only 27 000 weapons were collected. This was partly attributed to weapons collection programmes in Cote d’Ivoire. Perceived higher compensation for weapons in that country led to their being trafficked there from Liberia. Regional approaches could increase the effectiveness of disarmament by avoiding false economies and falsely raised expectations.


It is too early to assess the overall impact of DDR and related SSR activities in Liberia. However, DDR contributed to a reduction in violence and increased stability for the 2006 elections and subsequent SSR. By early 2006, recruitment and training of the new armed forces started with plans to create a 2 000-strong army. Future challenges include ensuring parliamentary oversight and civilian control over all security forces; developing a comprehensive and inclusive national security policy; and securing
stable donor support.


Region(s) or Country(ies)