Disarmament, demobilization and re-integration of ex-combatants and the security forces after Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) between the two warring parties in post conflict operations is known as the DDR process. Similarly, Security Sector Reform (SSR) is carried out when the country’s full security apparatus has failed and needs overall restructuring from the very grassroots.
Both processes are important for integrating ex-combatants into the security apparatus and demobilizing state’s security forces to prevent any further escalation of conflict. DDR and SSR decisions are generally undertaken during peace agreements on numbers, modalities of screening and training. The lack of appropriate awareness in programming and implementation between DDR and SSR during transition may ruin the delicate balance of the entire security apparatus and lead to turmoil in future.
The DDR/SSR related work prior to integration of modern Nepal by King Prithvi Narayan Shah was carried out by mixing the brute forces together and strategic marriage alliance if it was needed. Until 1768-69, the prosperous Newar city states of Bhaktapur, Lalitpur and Kantipur hired mercenaries from Kumaun and Gharwal of India. Jaya Prakash Malla of Kathmandu valley had mercenaries known as ‘nagarkoti’ from Gharwal to fight with Gorkhali troops as well as to suppress family rivalries in 1762. The Newari caste lacked warriors, and hence, they appointed Chhetris from surrounding hills of Kavre Palanchok and Sindhupalchok. This clearly illustrates that even before integration of modern Nepal began, troops were hired from outside to protect the motherland.
Immediately after the first popular uprising in 1950, the former fighters staged a coup led by Kuwar Indrajeet Singh, which created considerable turbulence within the Congress and chaos in Kathmandu valley. The coup was suppressed by the then Royal Nepal Army. This created the urgency for a DDR process. The fighters were disarmed and merged into a new security organization named Rakshya Dal. After 11 years in 1961, out of 8000 freedom fighters, 3000 were re-integrated into Rakshya Dal and 5000 into the Nepal police. Though many initially chose to join the Nepal army, due to strict training requirements they ended up opting to join the newly formed Nepal police instead. Freedom fighters who did not wish to join the integration process were provided some monetary allowance. Fifteen years after the first revolutionary uprising, Rakshya Dal was merged with the Nepali army under three new battalions.
However, given our history, it is important to remember that a western liberal approach to SSR and DDR for peace building efforts may not be completely appropriate in Nepal’s context. Before deciding on any model, one must think of its unique position as well as the background in which the Maoists were made to enter the peace process. The ultimate element of national power is the military of the state. If it surrenders its arms in front of the opponent, then the SSR model is applied to restructure the national army. The DDR model is appropriate after the war to manage weapons and find out acceptable ways to adjust military or civilian posts for the ex-rebels in the army or elsewhere.
In addition, an integration process should not only include ex-combatants but also all the victims, internally displaced people and former soldiers who need reconciliation in society. In Nepal, the Maoist rebellion has witnessed thousands of killings, disappearances, tortures, rapes, and cases of extortion which need careful handling in the post conflict scenario so as not to let the conflict erupt once again. Overall integration and coordination need a wider strategy for better control, community security building and peace building efforts. Reconciliation and re-integration are processes of continuous engagement in addressing the sufferings, pains and tragedies of the conflict victims, developing their confidence, bringing communities together to develop peace and harmony by understanding the motives and intensions of offenders and exploring ways and means to provide justice in all aspects.
The crux of SSR principle lies in civilian control and parliamentary oversight of security apparatus, modernization/ professionalization of the security forces, respect for the rule of law by all the stakeholders and facilitating war to peace transition, among others. The classical security approach was based mainly on legal monopoly of state to employ security instruments and forces for safeguarding people and national security. Unless such monopoly is eliminated, trust cannot be developed. The conventional approach of security operations is narrow and ignores modern notions of security which need to be in tune with the framework of human rights, livelihood security, environmental security and energy security. Hence, democratic governance, which is a serious issue in Nepal, is the central element of SSR. Confidence, which might have got eroded during the conflict, is re-vitalized during the SSR process.
Integration process should include ex-combatants, victims, internally displaced people and former soldiers who need reconciliation in the society.
It is imperative for all concerned to understand the ground realities and analyze the possibility of implementing the seven-point agreement concluded among mainstream political parties including the Maoists, before deciding whether or not it is viable in the present scenario. The accepted modalities and terms and conditions for integration of ex-combatants into the Nepali army have been challenged by some stakeholders. In addition, the Maoist party—the main party in the conflict—has already split into two and one section has raised serious objections to the modalities itself.
The earlier political consensus has been diluted. The special committee meeting has also been suspended indefinitely in the absence of consensus among mainstream political parties. In the backdrop of this political trust deficit, the desire of the political leadership to act as a solo dictatorial regime combined with the need to address the aspirations of the people of having a country with democratic norms and values have put Nepal at crossroads from where it can neither move forward nor step back.
The author is a Ph D Scholar in conflict management