The Global Center and Hedayah co-organized a panel discussion on the margins for the United Nations General Assembly to explore issues relating to the lessons learned and future challenges for rehabilitation and reintegration, as part of DDR (disarmament, demobilization and reintegration) efforts, particularly within the framework of countering violent extremism (CVE). The first panel presented relevant country case studies and shared experiences from Sri Lanka, Northern Ireland, Colombia, and Pakistan. During the second panel, experts and practitioners focused on rehabilitation and reintegration, considered lessons learned from and for DDR practice in view of transnational challenges such as terrorism and violent extremism, and also reflected on the role of the United Nations and international actors, including the Global Counterterrorism Forum in addressing these challenges from a policy and operational perspective. Richard Barrett, Senior Vice President at The Soufan Group, delivered the keynote addressing some of the recent activities and challenges posed by foreign terrorist fighters and reflecting on how the international community might respond to the threat.
Some important lessons learned from past or ongoing DDR efforts include: the political will to engage in good faith dialogue, involving local communities, particularly in reintegration programs, tailoring programs to specific needs and local contexts, and ensuring the availability of adequate resources and expertise. During the discussions, it was suggested that a “third generation DDR” may be necessary to address the more complex and violent extremist groups that have emerged over the past decade. This would require deeper engagement among DDR and CVE practitioners, including multidisciplinary training, engaging with communities, civil society, and non-traditional actors, and increasing the role of the United Nations and other international organizations, particularly in facilitating trainings, capacity building assistance, information sharing, and providing a platform for the exchange of best practices.
Considering the challenges posed by foreign terrorist fighters, participants recognized the need for further research and platforms to continue the valuable exchange of ideas and lessons learned, particularly in areas of rehabilitating terrorists or violent extremist offenders, and also in exploring ways of integrating the DDR/CVE fields of work.