The soldier and the post-conflict state : assessing ex-combatant reintegration in Namibia, Mozambique and Sierra Leone
Several organizations, most prominently the United Nations and the World Bank, have emphasized that ex-combatant reintegration is crucial to consolidating peace after war. Strategic thinking about peace-building and opportunities for international involvement in post-conflict states after the Cold War have focused attention on programs to disarm, demobilize, and reintegrate fighters. Despite the resources and effort invested in reintegration programs, however, the evidence from Namibia, Mozambique, and Sierra Leone shows that significant problems linked to incomplete reintegration persist after formal programs end. These problems include widespread unemployment among former fighters, ex-combatant involvement in criminality, re-recruitment into neighboring conflicts, and political and social polarization of reintegration grievances. Left unmanaged, such problems threaten security even if they do not lead a state back to war. The thesis explains the persistence of reintegration problems in terms of two variables: the capacity (defined as resources, operational expertise, and authority) and preferences (defined as the explicit and implicit interests and assumptions that guide programs) of reintegration actors. The capacity and preferences of these actors are aggregate independent variables that are themselves the product of endogenous (organizational and bureaucratic) and exogenous (systemic) pressures that literature on political economy and international relations theory helps to elucidate (i.e., helps to determine how reintegration actors' own behavior exacerbates or ameliorates problems). Drawing on documentation and interviews, the thesis constructs a narrative of reintegration in each case and employs process tracing within cases to identify reintegration problems, measure their impact on security, and determine whether and how the capacity and preferences of reintegration actors contributed to the persistence of reintegration problems. The thesis uses comparative analysis to generalize inferences about the variables observed, and suggests potential solutions to improve the management of reintegration problems and creation of economic opportunities. Unless deeper issues of reintegration governance related to problem management and opportunity creation are addressed, targeted remedies to improve program design will not succeed.