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Nichols, Ryan. 2011 ‘Disarmament: Where Have the Weapons Gone?.’ DDR in Sudan: Too Little, Too Late?; Working Paper No. 24, p. 28. Geneva: Small Arms Survey, the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva. 1 February

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Disarmament: Where Have the Weapons Gone?

In typical DDR programmes, the disarmament component is viewed as a visible indicator that the parties to a conflict are making a tangible commitment to peace-building and a sustainable cessation of hostilities. As such, DDR stakeholders, and in particular the international community, want to be reassured that a robust disarmament exercise is taking place. The most effective way to provide this reassurance is to provide evidence of the weapons collected and, ideally, destroyed. Indeed, many associate disarmament in a post-conflict setting with the image of a burning pyre of AK-47s.

Weapons collection and destruction expectations are not always realistic. In Sudan, both armed forces are statutory armies, not rebel groups, and, as such, they are capable of and responsible for disarming their own personnel. The manner in which they do so is their prerogative. There is no mandate in the CPA for international involvement in the disarmament process, presumably because insufficient attention was given to the details of this process when the agreement was drafted. In light of this, the international community's continued efforts to press for more involvement in the disarmament process are unjustified and will accomplish little more than fuelling their own frustration.

To its credit, the IUNDDR Unit made a sound initial effort to engage the two armies on disarmament. It drafted a well-argued and detailed joint SOP on disarmament verification in a bid to provide some technical support, which, if accepted, could have fundamentally strengthened the DDR programme by promoting transparency and building a degree of confidence in the process. The request was submitted to the respective DDR commissions in early 2010 for their comment, but neither responded. The IUNDDR Unit has now seemingly accepted being frozen out of the disarmament process, although some donors continue to voice a need for their involvement. A better tactic might be to work with the two armies to explore what kind of assistance might be needed for managing weapons stockpiles and inventories, or for improving civilian disarmament and arms control efforts.

[CPA = Comprehensive Peace Agreement; DDR = Disarmament, demobilisation and Reintegration; IUNDDR= Integrated United Nations Disarmament, demobilisation, and Reintegration Unit; SOP = Standard Operating Procedure]

ID: Q5208

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