This article introduces the special issue of Stability: International Journal of Security & Development on disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) and ‘armed non-statutory actors’ (ANSA). In the 1990s, international DDR programs were used mostly to deal with statutory and insurgent armies following peace accords to which the warring parties were signatories. Since then, however, other types of armed actors, such as militias, have grown in importance and have influenced the stability of governments and the security of civilian populations by demonstrating a high degree of flexibility and adaptability to shifting circumstances.
In response to the shifting anatomy of armed conflict, the DDR concept has increasingly been reconfigured to 1) deal with armed groups while conflict is still ongoing and without a negotiated peace accord being in place, and 2) deal with situations of armed conflict that involve hybrid forms of violence as well as a range of armed actors that control, or influence significantly, populations and territories, without being part of peace negotiations or under direct state control.
In research and policy, the stretching and blurring of the DDR concept to adapt to the changing contexts of violence and conflict has been described as ‘second generation DDR’. Second generation DDR programs include initiatives that aim specifically to disarm and dismantle militias (‘DDM’), transform and provide exit options for at-risk youth and gangs, and develop alternative approaches to disarmament and the control of unregulated weapons, such as the ‘flexible sequencing’ of DDR in which reintegration precedes demobilization and disarmament (RDD).
This introduction to the special issue discusses some of the assumptions and theories of change that have influenced commonly employed DDR templates, and which have been challenged by the changing strategic context of their implementation (also reflected in the second generation DDR). The introduction also summarizes the articles in the special issue, each of which provide deeper understanding of specific kinds of armed actors and contribute to discussions that pertain to the second generation DDR.