When violent conflict erupts, the availability and use of arms and weapons surges. Often, particularly in civil wars and internal conflicts, both combatants and civilians own and utilise weapons. Their presence in society makes peacebuilding a very difficult task, increasing the potential for a return to conflict and a high incidence of violent crime. The question of how to disarm factions is a key consideration in official peace negotiations, along with the related issue of how to demobilise fighting units, aiding their transition to
civilian life. International actors have termed the phase of the peace process that addresses these issues as disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR).
In theory, these processes can be described in a rather straightforward way. In reality, the situation is much more complex, as each conflict and peace process holds distinct challenges and opportunities. This chapter attempts to define these terms and processes according to international norms, while demonstrating that women are affected differently than men and offer unique perspectives that can contribute to more successful peacebuilding.