The disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) programme as implemented in South Sudan provides a perfect entry point to study the interaction between an international intervention and local contexts. The article describes and analyses the DDR programme in South Sudan as a set of practices that are at the core of international peacekeeping and yet are highly challenged by the specificities of local contexts. Consequently, programme results are far from what the international organizations involved expected from the outset, and the case is a vivid example of a lack of context-based approaches to peacebuilding. The article is based on fieldwork conducted among practitioners, project implementers and ex-combatants in South Sudan in 2012.