In the aftermath of violent conflict, no society can afford to rebuild its future without the participation of its young generation and consideration for their interests and needs. Yet, trapped in a state of protracted victimhood, children and youth – and their needs and potential – risk being overlooked in the planning and implementation of post-conflict peacebuilding.
They are frequently mere bystanders to peacebuilding efforts, disempowered to change their fortunes in the midst of societies scarred by death, poverty and destruction. Their voices will not be heard unless they can escape the chains of victimhood and their active agency in post-war recovers effort is recognized.
The contributors to this volume explore the lack of child- and youth- specific peacebuilding practices by local, national and international players; and young peoples’ struggle to escape the continuing victimhood or the pathways of survival criminality and instead secure more opportunities to be agents of sustainable peace.
By drawing on experiences from post-conflict environments in different parts of the world, a diverse group of researchers and scholar-practitioners working in academia, non-governmental and international organisations examine the proactive roles of girls and boys in promoting security for themselves and their families ; their disproportionate suffering and their specific vulnerabilities during and after the war; international legal frameworks created to protect and empower children and youth in post-conflict environments; examples of initiatives to help young people escape the traps of victimhood and voicelessness and actively engage in rebuilding their communities and nations; and international and national efforts to provide for the security of children and young people in post-conflict environments.
Children and youth are essential catalysts for the successful rebuilding of war-torn societies. Many will reach adulthood as new social, economic and political orders are being consolidated, as first elections are held and as international assistance and early rebuilding efforts are handed over into local hands. As the young post-war generation will become the next leaders, parents and teachers, ensuring children and youth’s active role in post-conflict peacebuilding today could be among the most effective means of building a sustainable peace tomorrow.
Albrecht Schnabel is a Senior Fellow in the Research Division of the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF). Anara Tabyshalieva is an Assistant Professor of History at Marshall University and a Research Fellow at the Institute for Regional Studies (Kyrgyzstan).
Part I: Introduction – Conceptualizing the roles of children and youth in post-conflict peacebuilding
Opportunities missed: Sidelining children and youth in post-conflict recovery and reform efforts , Albrecht Schnabel and Anara Tabyshalieva
The active role of children and young people in post-conflict peacebuilding , Claire O’Kane, Clare Feinstein and Annette Giertsen
Part II: The scars of armed conflict – Children and youth as actors and victims
Children and youth in conflict and post-conflict societies: From plights of war to paths of peacebuilding, Kathleen Kostelny and Michael Wessells
Angry young men in Timor-Leste: Post-conflict peacebuilding and its malcontents, Henri Myrttinen
Part III: Protecting and engaging children and youth in post-conflict environments
Protection and participation of children in post-conflict peacebuilding: International law and evolving practice, Vesselin Popovski
Children and security sector governance, David Nosworthy
The resilience of children and youth during conflict and its contribution to post-conflict stability: The case of northern Uganda and “night commuting, Azar Eskandarpour
Part IV: Children and youth as peacebuilders
Do youth programmes contribute to post-conflict peacebuilding? Some reflections on existing practice, Valeria Izzi and Chetan Kumar
“Conflict is a preventable disease”: Recovering child soldiers teach the practice of peace, Deborah Davis
Part V: Conclusion
Escaping and moving beyond victimhood: Children and youth as peacebuilders, Anara Tabyshalieva and Albrecht Schnabel
“This volume, focusing on children and youth in post-conflict situations, takes a very wide-angled view, including chapters on Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Taking a case study approach, the volume attempts to situate local conflicts and their effects on children and youth within an international peacebuilding and security context. The volume attempts to assert a sense of agency on the part of children and youth rather than perpetuating the idea of this group as a vulnerable population and as victims of conflict.”
— Louise Vincent, Professor, Department of Political and International Studies, Rhodes University