The masculine logic of DDR and SSR in the Rwanda Defence Force

Duriesmith, David and Holmes, Georgina (2019). The masculine logic of DDR and SSR in the Rwanda Defence Force. Security Dialogue, 50(4) pp. 361–379.



Since the 1994 genocide and civil war, the Rwandan government has implemented an externally funded Demobilisation, Demilitarisation and Reintegration (DDR)/Security Sector Reform (SSR) program culminating in the consolidation of armed groups into a new, professionalised Rwanda Defence Force (RDF). Feminists argue that DDR-SSR initiatives that exclude combatant women and girls or ignore gendered security needs fail to transform the political conditions that led to conflict. Less attention has been paid to how gendered relations of power play out through gender sensitive DDR and SSR initiatives that seek to integrate women and transform hyper-masculine militarised masculinities. This article investigates how Rwanda?s DDR-SSR program is governed by an oppressive masculine logic. Drawing on critical studies on men and masculinities and feminist work on peacebuilding, myths and the politics of belonging, it is argued that Rwanda?s locally-owned DDR-SSR program places the military and militarisation at the centre of the nation-building program. Through various ?boundary construction? practices, the Rwandan government attempts to stabilise the post-1994 gender order and entrench the hegemony of a new militarised masculinity in Rwandan society. The case study draws on field research conducted in 2014 and 2015 and a discourse analysis of RDF historical accounts, policy documents and training materials.

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