Disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) programmes aim to support the voluntary disarmament and discharge of combatants from armed groups, and to assist them in starting a new life, making a living for themselves, and finding a place in society. Without a good DDR process and the sustainable re-integration of combatants, armed groups can quickly re-group and resume violent activities. Even after a peace process, war-like conditions may continue for many communities as poorly re-integrated ex-combatants continue to depend on violence for survival.

Disarmament is the collection, documentation, control, and disposal of small arms, ammunition, explosives, and light and heavy weapons of combatants and often also of the civilian population. Disarmament also includes the development of responsible arms management programmes.

Demobilisation is the formal and controlled discharge of active combatants from armed forces or other armed groups. The first stage of demobilisation may extend from the processing of individual combatants in temporary centres to the massing of troops in camps designated for this purpose.

Reintegration is the process by which ex-combatants acquire civilian status and gain sustainable employment and income. Reintegration is essentially a social and economic process with an open timeframe, primarily taking place in communities at the local level. It is part of the general development of a country and a national responsibility, and often necessitates long-term external assistance.

DDR is therefore a vital part of the peacebuilding process. As reintegration is the most challenging part of this, it requires an integrated and holistic approach which places emphasis upon creating a positive relationship between ex-combatants and the communities in which they settle.

Ultimately, it aims to enhance the sense of ownership, rather than dependency, at national and community level, and promote a reconciliation and acceptance of ex-combatants from which the whole community can benefit long-term.