The end of hostilities between warring factions in Congo-Brazzaville has marked a decisive moment in the state’s developmental history. Post conflict reconstruction is a foundational component of public policies that restore order within society, igniting the engines of economic development, and in obtaining sustainable peace. In recent years, Africa has experienced a disproportionate share of conflicts compared with other regions; and leads the world in the number of present intrastate conflicts. Since the end of the Cold War, some African states have made advances in post conflict peacebuilding and intergroup reconciliation. This article focuses on post conflict reconstruction through the lens of security sector reforms, primarily disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR) programs. This study asks, how can postconflict scholars and practitioners determine if a DDR program has been a success or failure? Using Congo-Brazzaville as a case study, this article integrates the literature of political science and program evaluation to assess the level of “success” in Congo’s DDR programs. DDR is a highly complex and contingent process, and complete success or failure is unlikely, with most program outcomes result in a series of mixed effects. In summing the successes of individual indicators (e.g., weapons collected, munitions destroyed) DDR may be commonly perceived as successful, however, the conflict context, power dynamics, level of development, or social reintegration of ex-combatants may retard short-term gains for long-term instability. DDR programs should not carry the burden of peacebuilding themselves, and donor summary reports should not rely on easily quantifiable indicators in decreeing a program’s success without contemplating domestic power politics and elite cooptation mechanisms.

Author Bio

Zachary A. Karazsia is a Ph.D. student in political science at Florida International University. He serves as a Graduate Teaching Assistant to faculty in the Department of Politics and International Relations, with a concentration in comparative politics and international relations coursework. He earned two Bachelor of Arts degrees in Global Studies and Communication Arts and Sciences from The Pennsylvania State University and his Masters in International Development from the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs (GSPIA) at the University of Pittsburgh.

He has professional experience in evaluation and performance measurement, specifically, program evaluation, government reporting, statistical analysis, and human security. In his former capacity, Karazsia managed multiple federal and state grants and joint one-off evaluative projects with private sector clients. He has applied theory-driven research to brick-and-mortar projects and directed the administration of, a minimum of two, evidence-based practices (EBPs). Karazsia has authored six performance assessment reports analyzing descriptive statistics of program participants, fidelity assessments of programs to EBP and federal government guidelines, and provided recommendations for improvement in all cases.

Karazsia’s research includes the study of genocide and mass killing, ethnic conflict, security studies, and postconflict reconciliation through the lenses of comparative politics and international relations. His most recent manuscript (for inclusion as a book chapter) examines reconciliation in Rwanda following two prominent periods of mass killing. Presently, Karazsia is investigating comparative cases of genocide or “near misses”; and the role political scientists play in influencing policymakers in the realm of mass atrocities.


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