Under the gun
Northern Ireland’s unique history with DDR
in Theories of International Relations and Northern Ireland
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Research on decommissioning usually falls within a larger literature on disarmament-demobilization-reintegration (DDR). Although much of the literature on DDR treats it as a single process, some scholars have narrowed in on the process of disarmament (or decommissioning as it was called in Northern Ireland). This work makes several assumptions. First, a process for disarmament is usually an integral part of most peace processes. Second, international third parties are crucial to the process. Third, failure to decommission quickly or in full faith is usually a sign that violence between parties will resume. This chapter argues that decommissioning in Northern Ireland’s peace process does not conform to theoretical expectations about the role of decommissioning. In Northern Ireland peace makers avoided establishing a detailed process for decommissioning because many worried such details would thwart a deal. Though the failure to decommission did have political consequences—the power sharing Assembly at the centre of the Agreement was shuttered for several years—it did not lead a resumption of violence between parties. Rather, delays in the process contributed to spikes in internal violence.

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