DDR, Social Contact and Reconciliation : A case-study on Colombian former combatants

University essay from Uppsala universitet/Hugo Valentin-centrum

Abstract: As part of the peacebuilding measures in scenarios of transformation from civil conflict to a state of post-conflict, the control of hostile forces constitutes a risky, yet necessary process. In such contexts there is also a concern to generate strong ties and incentives that minimize the recurrence of violence. For this purpose reconciliation emerges as a condition for long-lasting peace. This concept eventually requires that armed actors, victimized subjects and society in general agree on critical points and become able to live together. For former combatants these steps are especially challenging since they are confronted by an adverse environment that requires the assumption of new codes of conduct that are no longer ruled by any sort of weaponry. With this puzzle in mind, this study enquired about the extent to which social contact is likely to influence the perspectives of reconciliation held by demobilized combatants immerse in an institutional scheme of DDR. In order to gather a comprehensive discussion around this question, this thesis observed the Colombian DDR process, gathering unique empirical data from individuals exposed to varying degrees of contact. From the information collected and its qualitative analysis, it was found that inter-group interactions are able to promote deep understanding about out-groups; nonetheless, extended contact along ongoing hostilities does not ensure complete transformation of misperceptions, even among subjects coming to the end of their reintegration process.

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