To gain a sense of existing literature on re-integration programs, the University of Calgary’s electronic search engine was utilized to search across many databases, across many disciplines – PsychoInfo; Ebsohost; Proquest Dissertations and Thesis; Social Work and social service abstracts, Sociological. Terms such as “child soldiers” yielded thousands of results, and was narrowed geographically, first to Africa and then finally to Liberia and Mozambique. Liberia is an area of interest because it was part of recent UN peacekeeping Missions (UNMIL) in which the DDR program was implemented, not once but twice, once in 1997 and, when conflict resumed, until another peace agreement was struck in 2003. Mozambique was selected for its use of traditional 'reintegration' programs.
I felt it was important to put re-integration programs into a broader conceptual development and ideological framework so searches were conducted using terms such as neo-liberalism, militarism, globalization, development and conflict.
The websites of international institutions, i.e., the United Nations, Humanitarian Relief, the World Bank – were searched and provided official documentation on formal disarmament, demobilization and re-integration programs, for instance the United Nations DDR Resource Centre.
As well, academic literature providing insight to the issues of these top-down programs from a local perspective were reviewed. Other electronic sources were helpful such as Peace-building, Institute for Security Studies, as well as agency websites known to work with child soldiers, i.e., UNICEF, International Child Soldiers, Coalition to Stop Child Soldiers.
Using the internet, websites for grassroot’s organizations were searched, and YouTube videos gave a very real sense of the personal experiences of ex-soldiers and individuals for example, those Liberians living in the Buduharma refugee camp in Ghana. These searches clearly show that local reintegration programs are not readily accessible demonstrating a much-needed area of field research.
An important search was undertaken to determine the extent to which international social work has acknowledged the issue in conflict studies. The search yielded few results, but there are some scholars working in the area and publications from them were read and incorporated. The International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW) and the International Association of Social Workers (IASSW) were also scanned for evidence of work in this area.
Exclusion/Inclusion of Literature
The intent of the integrated literature review is to compare both international and local practice models of the reintegration of child soldiers into civilian life. International is therefore defined as those actors from the global north and local practice models relating to those found in the global south. This is important because these international actors are charged with implementing DDR programs, while “local” are those practices that may be evoked by individuals and communities and are outside of the formal DDR program. While DDR programs are implemented worldwide, only literature relating to Africa were examined, and a review of re-integration programs largely confined to those that occurred in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Mozambique. Only literature relating to child soldiers were included, excluding adult programs except for when DDR programs in general are germain to children's programing. While a growing body of evidence suggests that upwards of 40% of soldiers are girls, this designation wasn’t made in this exploratory study; rather, this particularly vulnerable group is studied elsewhere. Only English literature was studied but all relevant literature – grey and academic were included.