The International Research Group on Reintegration
Efforts to ensure the social, political and economic reintegration of former combatants are persistently neglected in peacebuilding interventions. This is so, even as reintegration of former fighters is a central prerequisite for durable peace to take hold and for post-war economic reconstruction to be kick-started.
The Centre for Peace Studies’ (CPS) International Research Group on Reintegration (IRGR) is is a specialized research group that is currently in cooperation with other applied academic institutions and international agencies, including the United Nations Interagency Working Group on DDR (IAWG-DDR), in undertaking interdisciplinary and comparative studies of reintegration. Current initiatives build on a four years in-depth project with the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI) on the contexts of DDR. Ongoing applied research will enable the group to assess strengths and weaknesses in current DDR policy formulation and programming and contribute to a bolstering of reintegration efforts in key conflict zones.
The research initiative will solidify the standing of the Centre for Peace Studies at the University of Tromsø and associated partners as an international hub for expertise on reintegration. Complementary to the ongoing IAWG-CPS collaboration, which also has a focus on customization of DDR knowledge products, CPS is in collaboration with UNIDIR (Geneva) and Livework (a leading innovator of service design), developing prototypes which may enable CPS gradually to take on global service functions on reintegration.
Disarmament and demobilization, the shorter and technical sides of DDR, usually receive considerable focus and resources. Reintegration, however, is understudied and critically underfinanced. The work of the IRGR may help rectify this by maintaining a deliberate focus on reintegration and substantiate why long-term funding will enhance cost-effectiveness of peacebuilding. An underlying premise of current initiatives is that if reintegration, in all its facets, is systematically studied, we can generate new important evidence-based knowledge that will help future reintegration programming. Too little is known about the mechanisms that facilitate and play into reintegration processes. These need to be recorded, distilled and analyzed in order for researchers and practitioners to see common patterns and processes, which in turn can shed new light on why and how reintegration processes unfold in the way they do. Reintegration is an issue gaining importance in inter-agency efforts – helping to develop UN-wide tools and approaches will therefore provide important support to the Integrated Missions concept.