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  • Sally Sharif

How to Canton Ex-Combatants: Lessons from Peacebuilding with the FARC


Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration (DDR) programs have become an essential part of peace processes, sometimes constituting an important piece of peace negotiations and peace agreements. They generally aim at disbanding rebel wartime structures for the purpose of peace. However, when dealing with rebel groups with a strong command-and-control structure, disrupting ex-combatant communities formed during war has adverse effects on DDR. Cantonment is the temporary period during which active combatants are assigned to cantonment sites for processing, discharging, and disarmament. Cantonment can last multiple years and involve transitional assistance provided to ex-combatants in the form of food, shelter, clothing, and medical services, as well as education and training. Lessons learned from cantonment of Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) show that wartime bonds can be employed for the purpose of peace. The case of the FARC shows that ex-combatants in cohesive cantons led by their wartime commander can succeed economically as a group, even if the cantons are built in regions with weak institutions or unfavorable economic and political conditions. Read more: doi:10.7274/np193775f86.

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