The purpose of this research was to explore and analyse the literature on internationally sponsored Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration programs designed to facilitate child soldiers transition from members of combat or fighting forces back to civilian life. The literature focused on the reintergration phase of the program.
While the direct involvement of UN peackeepers in the Disarmament and Demobilization stages of DDR programs may be justified in the tenuous transition from civil war to peace, the literature shows that this top-down approach when applied to the reintegration phase serves other interests besides child soliders. The lack of community involvement is evident and this is one reason among many to cast the UN-mandated reintegration program into doubt. The literature clearly shows that there is no evidence of their succcess or failures. International Non-government Organizations tasked with implementing the reintegration phase may incorporate local practices but this is not always always the case and there are many competing interests and at times, a competitive envirnoment among INGOs. The literature on the formal DDR program in Liberia suggests it was largely unsuccessful if actually measured on other criterion than is dictated by program designers. The literature on Mozambique's reintegration after the long civil war clearly shows alternative ways of knowing that occur at the local or grassroots level.
Clearly, there is a gap between the top-down component and the grassroots level of implementation. This research represents a good beginning to get a better grasp of the complex envirnoment in which these programs take place. It is instructive to note that social workers have an integral role in bringing to light the narratives of children who clearly show resiliency and growth despite unimaginable challenges. It allows us to begin the work of countering the idea that these children are simply victims or a lost generation. The situation is simply more complex than is commonly portrayed.
From an ecological perspective, countries in the south are an interconnected social system – an interconnection of nature and the environment with socially constructed entities, such as families, communities, schools, churches, governments, rituals, mores and morays, to name a few. All are systems unto themselves, while simultaneously part of other systems. They are constantly interacting and changing, in a similar process of dialectical evolution – theses, challenged and changed by antithesis, to merge again, as a new way of thinking.