DDR in Northern Ireland
Disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) is a process that brings an end to violence through a series of stages or strategies that aim for significant reductions in violence and the application of democratic means and values. Through DDR those in conflict must use the means at their disposal to build a commitment to peace and the transformation of conflict. Building trust between communities that have been in conflict is also vital to sustainability of any peace settlement. In Northern Ireland the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement outlined features of reform cognisant of a DDR approach including;
‘We reaffirm our total and absolute commitment to exclusively democratic and peaceful means of resolving differences on political issues, and our opposition to any use or threat of force by others for any political purpose, whether in regard to this agreement or otherwise.’
‘All participants accordingly reaffirm their commitment to the total disarmament of all paramilitary organisations. They also confirm their intention to continue to work constructively and in good faith with the Independent Commission, and to use any influence they may have, to achieve the decommissioning of all paramilitary arms within two years following endorsement in referendums North and South of the agreement and in the context of the implementation of the overall settlement.’
‘The participants note that the development of a peaceful environment on the basis of this agreement can and should mean a normalisation of security arrangements and practices’.
‘The Governments continue to recognise the importance of measures to facilitate the reintegration of prisoners into the community by providing support both prior to and after release, including assistance directed towards availing of employment opportunities, re-training and/or reskilling, and further education’.
To that end the following 3 entities were created to uphold a DDR process:
The Independent International Commission on Decommissioning (IICD) was established to oversee the decommissioning of paramilitary weapons in Northern Ireland, as part of the peace process. The Commission was composed of:
General (Ret.) John de Chastelain, Chairman, from Canada, Brigadier Tauno Nieminen, from Finland, and Ambassador Donald C. Johnson, from the USA, and Andrew D. Sens, from the USA. Its objective was to facilitate the decommissioning of firearms, ammunition and explosives, by:
- consulting with the two governments, the participants in the ongoing negotiations in Northern Ireland, and paramilitary and other relevant groups,
- devising and presenting to the governments a set of proposals on how to achieve decommissioning,
- facilitating the process by observing, monitoring and verifying decommissioning, and receiving and auditing arms, and
- reporting periodically on progress.
The Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC), led by Lord Alderdice, was an organisation founded by agreement between the British and Irish governments in 2003. The IMC concluded its operations on 31 March 2011 The IMC’s remit included:
- monitoring any continuing activity by paramilitary groups,
- monitoring the commitment by the British Government to a package of security normalisation measures,
- handling claims by parties in the Northern Ireland Assembly that a Minister, or another party in the Northern Ireland Assembly, is not committed to non-violence and exclusively peaceful and democratic means, or that a Minister has failed to observe any other terms of the pledge of office, or that a party is not committed to such of its members as are or might become Ministers observing the other terms of the pledge of office.
The Review Panel Employers’ Guidance on Recruiting People with Conflict-Related Convictions, was established in 2010 and is a tripartite review panel that comprises an independent chair Prof. P. Shirlow FaCSS and representatives from CBI (NI) (Alan Mercer), ICTU (Peter Bunting) and the Executive Office (Grainne Killen). In its terms of reference the Review Panel is tasked with considering individual cases, building up evidence regarding the acceptance and adoption of the Guidance Principles, and producing progress report on the impact of that guidance. Since its first report the Review Panel has continued to promote the employers’ guidance and meets regularly to discuss and examine the barriers to employment due applicant vetting.
The impact of the Review Panel’s work was recently illustrated by the adoption of its recommendations into government policy notably Fresh Start: The Stormont Agreement and Implementation Plan (The Northern Ireland Executive). Fresh Start promoted;
Support for Transition: Initiatives to help moves away from paramilitary structures and activity. The reintegration of people previously involved in the Troubles taking into account the report of the Review Panel on employers’ guidance on recruiting.
The Review Panel is referred to in the report on tackling Paramilitarism, Criminality and Organised Crime and the Executive’s Action Plan in response.
B1 – The Executive should urgently adopt recommendations by the Review Panel that (a) the Fair Employment and Treatment Order 1998 (FETO) should be amended; (b) the employers’ guidance should be implemented in respect of public sector recruitment and vetting; and (c) that there should be greater transparency over all these issues. Oversight of the implementation of these specific measures should be included within the remit of the Independent Reporting Commission.
The Executive will urgently adopt recommendations by the Review Panel that (a) the Fair Employment and Treatment Order 1998 (FETO) should be amended; (b) the employers’ guidance should be implemented in respect of public sector recruitment and vetting; and (c) that there should be greater transparency over all these issues.
These actions represent a change to both legislation and NICS Policy.
B2 – The Review Panel’s work should continue to consider what steps can be taken to improve access to financial services (including lending and insurance), adoption and travel advice.
The Executive will engage with the Review Panel (appointed by the Ex-prisoners Working Group) to address the issues identified relating to access to financial services (including lending and insurance), adoption and travel.
The Review Panel continues to exist as an entirely non-statutory/voluntary body, which can receive complaints/issues raised by individuals. The Review Panel, like the Guidance Principles, is entirely voluntary in nature and therefore does not impinge on the remit of existing mechanisms or laws.