This article explores the barriers faced by ex-combatants in Northern Ireland and Colombia as they reintegrate into civil society. It focuses on analysing three key aspects for a successful reintegration process: access to education opportunities after demobilisation, inclusion and participation into the civilian economy, and the exercise of equal citizenship in order to guarantee social and civic reintegration. The article presents the results of fifty-four interviews with former combatants from both countries. It is argued that for the purpose of developing effective and inclusive reintegration processes for ex-combatants, it is crucial to address claims for recognition as a central dimension of reintegration. The paper concludes that the recognition of ex-combatants’ social expectations during the demobilisation stage, and the acknowledgement of their experiences of marginalisation in the course of the reintegration process, is vital to enable former combatants to achieve the self-realisation of their civilian identity.