Seen, but not heard: placing children and youth on the security governance agenda

Seen, but not heard: placing children and youth on the security governance agenda

Addressing the security needs of children and young people

Security sector reform (SSR) is increasingly being seen as a key component of post-conflict reconstruction. This is due to the recognition that for there to be an emergence of a fair and equitable society the state’s security apparatus needs to be inclusive of and responsive to the needs of all its citizens. Nowhere is this more needed than for children and young people who undoubtedly suffer most during conflict and violence. However, although there has been increased recognition of the need for a gender perspective in security governance, children have largely been ignored – in part due to the fact that they do not have a ‘political voice’.

Yet there are a significant number of areas of security governance which are requisite in order to ensure states fulfil their obligations to the ‘rights of the child’. These include:

  • demobilising and reintegrating former child soldiers into society
  • implementing mine action programmes
  • curbing the proliferation of small arms and light weapons
  • reforming the justice system particularly the juvenile justice system
  • re-establishing rule of law
  • addressing past abuses of human rights
  • providing youth with alternatives and a vision of a tenable, productive future.

This substantial document seeks to examine the interaction between the security sector and children – with the authors arguing for a ‘broader rights-based approach to security governance that responds to the security needs of children and youth in both policy and practice’.

The research covers a wide range of issues, including:

  • creating a secure environment for children
  • the juvenile justice system - a key to human security policy reform
  • independent oversight and the security of children
  • children in peacebuilding and security governance
  • children and Disarmament Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR)
  • engaging armed non-state actors on the issue of child recruitment and use
  • children and young people in post-conflict peacebuilding.
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