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Understanding Ex-Combatants. Central Themes in the Lives of Former Paramilitaries in Colombia

abstract To date, the growing body of literature about Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR) has focused primarily on questions of policy design. It has widely neglected the beneficiaries of policy and their lives beyond DDR programmes. The present study intends to balance this shortcoming by systematically describing the individual perspective of ex-combatants. Through a series of 62 interviews with former Colombian paramilitaries, the themes that are central to their lives are identified. The selection of the interviewees and the interview analysis draw on grounded theory. The goal of this inductive approach is to build a substantive theory that consists of interrelated categories grounded in qualitatively collected data. According to the present analysis, the central themes in the ex-combatants’ lives are the emotional legacies stemming from their involvement in war, strategies to overcome security challenges and economic difficulties, as well as a pact with the state, stigma within communities and a disrupted family life. Some preliminary policy implications complement the empirical analysis of this study. The interviewed former combatants demobilised together with their units of the United Self-defense Forces of Colombia (Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia – AUC). The AUC were a paramilitary federation mostly financed through drug-trafficking who fought against leftist guerrilla groups. After negotiating with the Colombian government, 31.671 members of the AUC demobilised between 2003 and 2006. Since that time, they have received support from a national reintegration programme.
   
type thesis (English)
   
keywords DDR; ex-combatants; Colombia; grounded theory
   
university Universität St.Gallen
evaluator Prof. Dr. Yvette Sánchez; Prof. Dr. Christoph Frei
publisher Difo-Druck (Bamberg)
date of appearance 2011
citation Nussio, E. (2011). Understanding Ex-Combatants. Central Themes in the Lives of Former Paramilitaries in Colombia, Universität St.Gallen, Thesis. Bamberg: Difo-Druck.