KIGALI, May 8 2015 — Since the early 1990s, Somalia has experienced cycles of violence that fragmented the country, destroyed legitimate institutions, and created widespread vulnerability. However recent security gains made by the Federal Government and the African Union have brought stability and a hope that Somalia is finally turning the page on two decades of turmoil. Many observers call the transition a real break with the past, and the best opportunity for achieving lasting peace. Slowly but surely, members of the Somali diaspora are returning, and national reconstruction and reconciliation are the top priorities of the Federal Government in Mogadishu.
The processes of national reconciliation and peace building will bring a whole new set of challenges, especially given the easy access to weapons and presence of armed groups in Somalia. Guided by the Somali Compact—an overarching strategic framework for coordinating political, security, and development efforts for peace and state-building activities—the Government of Somalia is implementing the National Programme for Disengaging Combatants, which establishes a “comprehensive process through which fighters can disengage in conformity with international law and human rights and provides targeted reintegration support.”
Traditionally known as DDR — disarmament, demobilization and reintegration — these programs are implemented to help facilitate security and stability in post-conflict environments so that recovery and development can begin to take root. Given the tenuous security situation in Somalia, the government is advancing with caution and rather than implement a traditional DDR program right away, it is focusing its efforts primarily on building the capacity and the technical expertise of its institutions.
One of the ways in which Somalia is doing this is through knowledge exchanges with countries that have faced similar crises. Twenty years after a civil war and genocide, Rwanda has obtained stability and security at home, in part due a remarkably successful DDR program. In an effort to help Somalia learn from Rwanda’s experience, the World Bank initiated a “Knowledge and Experience Exchange Study Tour” enabling a delegation consisting of Somali officials from the Federal Ministry of Interior and National Security, African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), and United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) to visit Rwanda and its Demobilization and Reintegration Commission (RDRC).