Community Counts: The Social Reintegration of Ex-Combatants in Colombia
40 Pages Posted: 13 Jul 2012 Last revised: 30 Aug 2012
Date Written: 2012
What are the determinants of the social reintegration of ex-combatants from armed conflicts? In post-conflict settings around the world there has been growing interest in and reliance upon community-based programs and activities to bring ex-combatants back into society. Implicit in these programs is the theory that the social participation of ex-combatants in the communities where they settle and their acceptance by these communities are helpful for minimizing recidivism to illegal activities and increasing perceptions of security. Participation can help ex-combatants feel socially fulfilled and acceptance by their communities can reduce their needs to maintain social connections to their former armed group networks and bosses. Yet little is known about the factors that drive social reintegration or its overall importance for increasing security. We evaluate individual-level, community-level, and broader security environment predictors of social reintegration. A central hypothesis is that the strength of community organization and social relations among residents are associated with increased participation of ex-combatants in their communities. Well organized communities may support participation through providing opportunities to do so and advocating and vouching for the ex-combatants in their midst to mitigate the security dilemma they face and protect them from remaining armed groups. We test the individual, community, and environmental factors using data from a nation-wide survey of randomly sampled ex-combatants from Colombia. The results suggest which ex-combatants are most likely to socially reintegrate and where. We lastly examine how the social participation of ex-combatants and the recent social reintegration program interventions in Colombia may contribute to meeting broader definitions of successful reintegration.
Keywords: community, reintegration, DDR, social capital, Colombia, civil war
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