Youth in war-to-peace transitions: approaches of international organizations

Youth in war-to-peace transitions: approaches of international organizations

Effective programmes for youth in post-conflict situations

This study examines youth in war-to-peace transitions and the response of international organisations to them. It specifically asks what approaches have international organisations developed regarding youth? On which assumptions about youth and their role in violent conflicts are they based? How do the different approaches affect programme development and are they are compatible?

The paper argues that since there is no legal framework for youth, they have largely been neglected in demobilisation and reintegration programmes. The study focused on three ideal typical approaches to demobilisation and reintegration to explain the various responses of international organisations towards youth in conflict contexts: a rights-based approach; an economic approach; and a socio-political approach. The paper highlights two case studies of exemplary demobilisation and reintegration programmes for each approach to determine their practical value for postconflict peace building:

  • Rights-based approach: DRP for former child soldiers in DRC; participation of young people in DDR in Sierra Leone
  • Economic approach: urban youth employment and empowering project in Nigeria; youth integration training and education for peace program in Sierra Leone
  • Socio-political approach: youth post-conflict participation project in Kosovo; youth projects in Burundi and Sierra Leone.

The study finds that the strengths of the rights-based approach lie in the preventive phase, the advocacy function and the strengthening of community responsibility. The economic approach, on the other hand, is most effective in the short-term because it can deliver immediate results to young beneficiaries and lure them away from armed forces. The socio-political approach fosters long-term reconciliation by countering the marginalisation of young people through their integration into societal structures; it can best account for youth’s gender-related identity because it is based on their participation. As a result of these different qualities, the study concludes that a holistic approach is needed in order for international organisations to profit from their distinct advantages. [adapted from author]

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