Just Keeping Them Busy? Youth Employment Projects as a Peacebuilding Tool

The promotion of youth employment is a popular peacebuilding measure in post-conflict settings. Giving jobs to young people is widely seen as an essential way to harness their energy towards constructive and peaceful purposes and discourage their recruitment for violence. Unlike traditional youth employment projects, these interventions set themselves a twofold objective: creating jobs and promoting peace in post-conflict societies. However, little is known about their impact on either of these fronts, and there is anecdotal evidence that youth employment projects in post-conflict settings have often fallen short of the expectations of donors, governments and beneficiaries alike. This article argues that the practice of using youth employment projects for peacebuilding is rooted in untested, problematic and possibly flawed assumptions, and this fundamentally affects the chance of success for such interventions.


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