Peacebuilding projects are often designed to intersect with other objectives (economic development, education, etc.). In some environments, such as Lebanon, a former Chief of Party advocates an "indirect approach" to peacebuilding, engaging youth of different ethnic groups in vocational training and other civic projects. In other cases, cross-sectoral programming may simply be more cost effective or logical. These resources examine best practices in cross-sectoral programming with peacebuilding outcomes for youth, and sheds critical light on the role of youth in peace and security.
What We Know about “What Works” in Youth Civic Engagement, and Voice, Youth Organizations, Youth Leadership, and Civic Education
This literature review examines academic empirical studies from the year 2000 onwards that focused on evidence of the impact of interventions in youth civic engagement and voice, youth organizations, youth leadership, and civic education for youth. The review paid particular attention to interventions in conflict and violence-affected areas and in the context of countering violent extremism but was unable to identify empirical academic literature on the impact of interventions in conflict and violence-affected areas and for countering violent extremism was identified. Literature that was located is descriptive and does not address impact in a rigorous manner. According to the authors of the literature review, “There is little consensus on the definition of basic terms, theories of change, desired or expected impacts, or ways these impacts should be measured. The theory of change is often not well articulated, but may include promoting greater attachment to the community, persuading youth to adopt counter narratives, or simply occupying the time of youth and crowding out less desirable activities.”
This article looks critically at the new global youth, peace and security agenda, that has been marked by the passage of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2250 in December 2015. It argues that this agenda needs to be situated within the broader context of the securitisation of development, and that the increasing interest in youth as a security subject and actor is shaped by three overlapping sets of global security concerns: the concept of the youth bulge is a euphemism for the problem of growing surplus populations worldwide; the ideal of youth as peacebuilders is a model for eliciting youth support for the current global social and economic order; and the spectre of globally networked youth being radicalised by extremist groups has legitimated joint state and private sector projects that are taking an increasingly active role intervening in the online lives of young people around the world. The article draws on an analysis of a collection of core documents that form the heart of the global youth and security agenda; and it argues for the need for greater critical reflexivity in considering the growing attention being paid to youth as a social category in global development and policy discourse.
This paper explores the role of youth as peace-builders and uses four examples to show youth’s unique power for and participation in peacebuilding. The paper is divided into four sections:
Sections 1 and 2: Describes the most generalized perspectives on the role of youth in conflicts, based on a short review of existing literature.
Section 3: Challenges the generalized perspectives and contrasting these perspectives with positive examples of youth engagement that illustrate the power and potential of youth as peace-builders, that is, as positive agents of non-violent change through four recent historical examples.
Section 4: Suggests points for further research and exploration.
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.
Mercy Corps, in collaboration with the Political Violence FieldLab at Yale University and Princeton University, and with financial support from the United States Institute of Peace, undertook a randomized controlled trial with 1,590 participants to test the impact of particular economic interventions—specifically, a youth employability program and cash transfers—on youth attitudes toward and willingness to support political violence in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan. Key Findings:
* Vocational training by itself had no impact on youth support for political violence, despite helping to improve economic outcomes six to nine months post intervention. Even after experiencing those improvements, youth still showed no change in support for political violence.
* Cash transfers reduced willingness to support violent groups in the short term; however, these positive effects quickly dissipated.
* The combination of vocational training and cash transfers resulted in a large reduction in willingness to engage in pro-armed opposition group actions six to nine months post intervention.
If Youth are Given the Chance: Effects of Education and Civic Engagement on Somali Youth Support of Political Violence
This research seeks to test the impact of two common violence-reduction approaches— education and civic engagement—on youths’ level of support for armed violence. By expanding our previous study from Somaliland to examine education, civic engagement, and political violence in South Central Somalia and Puntland, this study also allows us to understand whether the effects of the same education and civic engagement interventions persist
across different contexts. From an impact evaluation that surveyed 1,220 young people in these two violence-affected regions of Somalia, we found that both secondary education alone and secondary education combined with civic engagement opportunities pulled Somali youth away from supporting violent groups. We also identified possible explanations for these reductions in support: both versions of the intervention led engaged youth to be more optimistic about their future job prospects and more confident in the use of nonviolent means to achieve change in their communities. These two significant pathways suggest that the Somali Youth Learners Initiative program enabled youth to feel more capable of shaping their own futures and influencing their communities, which in turn may explain the reduced support for armed opposition groups that feed off young people’s frustrations and feelings of disempowerment.