Employment & Empowerment: Implementation Strategies

This section discusses strategic issues related to implementation of the various activities overall their interaction and sequencing, and the strategic frameworks and operational mechanisms increasingly being promoted and utilized to foster and expand employment and economic empowerment in post-conflict settings.

Sequencing and prioritization

Establishing security on the ground and building institutions for good governance are both key to creating jobs in the post-conflict environment. At the same time, it is argued that job creation is the cornerstone of economic recovery and security, and yet it often only included in peacebuilding strategies as a "secondary objective."1 Getting sequencing right is often context driven. Scholar Susan Woodward has suggested that, "The problem of employment may be the consequence not of policy but of sequencing. She cites Sierra Leone as an example of this issue, where a lack of coordination between economic and political actors led to a setback for the peace process. The reduction of resources to subsidize the army led to rapid cuts in pay and personnel, with the result that 8,000 newly unemployed soldiers defected to the guerillas and the peace was lost."2 Her point illustrates the need for sequencing considerations of peacebuilding overall to vitally consider how initiatives that drastically affect employment can undermine security.

There remains a diversity of opinion regarding precisely when efforts to develop employment strategies should begin. USIP argues that the "golden hour" for post-conflict employment generation, is within one year of the end of violence; actions taken during this time frame will determine success or failure in the medium to long term.3 During this period, analysis of the market should be conducted; private investment should be courted; and projects, such as quick impact projects, should be implemented to provide employment.4 Another UN (system-wide) report suggests that the development of employment strategies should begin even before the end of conflict. Pilot job creation programmes, it is argued, can be started in safe areas before a full peace accord is reached.5Employment issues should be included in the peace accord and be considered a priority during negotiations.6 Employment needs can be identified during the preparation of Post-Conflict Needs Assessments (PCNAs), which are multilateral efforts by the UN Development Group, the World Bank and the state.7

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Strategic frameworks

The UN and other peacebuilding actors currently lack a comprehensive framework for addressing post-conflict employment and economic empowerment issues. The UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) has underscored how the challenges of achieving full employment and decent work require a comprehensive approach at the national and international levels. Making full and productive employment and decent work for all a central objective of national and international policies is imperative to the achievement of the internationally agreed development goals.

The UN also lacks a policy framework on youth and conflict that offers clear guidance for implementing strategies in the field. A United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) report found that youth policies fail to consider conflict, conflict strategies fail to include youth and the development agenda often ignores in-depth consideration of employment.8 The same UNDP report clearly states, "A better-informed framework is urgently needed."9

Poverty reduction strategy papers (PRSPs) and national action plans and policies

PRSPs, which are frameworks that elaborate a national development plan, frequently fail to address employment needs. In his paper presented to the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), economist Janvier Nkurunziza states, "The political declarations on employment creation as key to fighting poverty have not been translated into actions. A detailed analysis of 21 poverty reduction strategy papers (PRSPs) reveals their weak employment content. The fact that development strategies do not consider job creation a priority explains why the employment intensity of the growth process is very weak."10 An analysis by the UN also found that "while PRSPs often outline a coherent general growth strategy, they are not always comprehensively pro-poor. For example, while many PRSPs propose policies for faster growth, fewer suggest how to translate this growth into widespread employment generation. In some PRSPs, macroeconomic goals and policies do not '...reflect and fully integrate, inter alia, employment growth and poverty reduction goals,' as unanimously agreed by the Geneva Special Session of the General Assembly on Social Development in June 2000."11 The report continues, "PRSPs do not consistently address employment and the functioning of labour market institutions, nor fundamental principles and rights at work."12

The United Nations Development Group (UNDG) makes recommendations for integrating employment issues into PRSPs that involve stronger attention to the design of employment and labor relations policies aimed at meeting national poverty reduction targets. These include: considering the design of employment and labor relations policies in order to train, attract and retain the significant numbers of people required to provide quality services needed to meet national poverty reduction targets; and, discussing the role of cooperatives and the scope for using employment-intensive methods of infrastructure construction. The UNDG assessment also suggests that, "The UN should increase its efforts to advocate macroeconomic policies that effectively support the poverty reduction objectives of PRSPs by strengthening commitment to growth of employment, and foster a broad popular discussion about reconciling the objectives of short-term macroeconomic stabilization and the longer-term objectives of sustainable pro-poor growth and achievement of the [Millennium Development Goals (MDG)] poverty goals."13  Go to Institutional mechanisms: MDGs

Related to, and/or embedded within PRSPs are national actions plans, which can provide a clear framework for prioritizing employment issues and economic recovery in the post-conflict environment, as well as in developing countries, in general. Various UN agencies have outlined important issues in considering the development of national action plans. First, national policies for full employment and decent work need to be considered in an integrated way, taking into account both demand and supply factors, for example, civil conflicts are more likely to generate demand-side shocks to the labor market, with the collapse of financial investment in the market.14 Employment policy should be seen not as a sectoral policy among others, but rather key to the successful mobilization of all public policies.15 While governments are encouraged to consider full employment and social protection as objectives of their monetary and fiscal policies, varying degrees of priority and importance are assigned to these objectives.16 It is also important that the needs of youth and vulnerable groups are included in the national plan through a broad, consultative process.

At the same time, it is recognized that "proposals for action urging governments to create jobs are admirable, but not instructive for overcoming the real obstacles that prevent job creation."17

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Institutional mechanisms

The Youth Employment Network (YEN)

In 2001, in response to the Millennium Declaration, the Youth Employment Network (YEN) was formed to address the issue of youth unemployment. YEN is a consortium of the ILO, the World Bank and the UN and is based on five global priority areas: employability, employment creation, equity, entrepreneurship and environmental sustainability.18 The YEN approach seeks to improve upon orthodox international youth initiatives by promoting youth as an asset and partner for development, and not just as passive recipients of aid.19 Under YEN, youth actively cooperate with the private sector, civil society, and policymakers to create policies that support youth employment growth through investment in training, education and access to employment support services.20 In addition to serving as an avenue for achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), YEN treats youth employment "as an entry point to the broader employment agenda."21

The World Programme of Action for Youth

The UN adopted the World Programme in 1995 "to more effectively address the problems of young people, to increase their participation in society and to make governments more responsive to their aspirations."22 The World Programme is a policy framework and practical guidelines for national and international action for improving the lives of youth, especially in issues of capacity building and employment.23 Employment is listed as one of the 15 priority areas, and in particular, the World Programme proposes to:
  • Provide opportunities for self-employment, such as the creation of grant schemes to provide seed month to encourage and support enterprise and employment programs for young people;
  • Establish programs to promote youth employment among young women, youth people with disabilities, youth returning from military service, young migrants, refugee and displaced youth, street children and indigenous youth;
  • Establish voluntary programs for youth, for example youth camps, community service projects, environmental protection and inter-generational cooperation programs;
  • Create employment opportunities for young people in fields that are rapidly evolving as a result of technical innovation.24
It has been observed, however, that the youth agenda does not concretely define success beyond the ideal of a "better world," and there are not specific benchmarks for evaluating progress.25

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Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)

As stated by the UN Development Programme (UNDP), "The MDGs and the Millennium Declaration are driving the development agenda for the 21st century by determining development priorities, shaping development funding and framing development policy."26 Together they are widely applied to global development challenges to benchmark progress across a wide spectrum of priorities. Below, employment as an MDG is listed in greater detail.

Employment and the MDGs

As in the earlier paradigms of growth and poverty reduction, employment is not articulated as an explicit component of the MDGs.27 However, employment is strongly linked to the achievement of a variety of goals. The most direct linkage is with the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger, noting that, "The higher the rate of growth in employment, the faster is the reduction in poverty and hunger."28 Specifically, this would come through the generation of private income.29 Improved income earning potential increases private investment in education and, conversely, produces an educated work force, for example,30 supporting the second MDG's goal of universal primary education. In supporting poverty reduction, employment can also profoundly facilitate meeting of goals around decreasing child and maternal mortality (MDGs 4 and 5), achieving gender equality and womens empowerment (the third MDG), combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases (the sixth MDG) and environmental sustainability (the sixth MDG).31

Youth and the MDGs

The MDGs also address youth issues around employment, in particular. "Under target 16 in Goal 8, aimed at developing a global partnership for development, there is a resolution 'to develop and implement strategies that give young people everywhere a real chance to find decent and productive work.'"32 The ILO has underscored how this inclusion "had an important and catalytic impact on drawing international attention to the problem of unemployed young people."33

UNDP has pointed out that while some of the MDGs have elements that target youth such as achieving universal primary education using the literacy rate of 15 to 24 year-olds as one indicator, promoting gender equality at all levels of education, improving maternal health and combating HIV/AIDS and other diseases most of the MDGs are only implicitly relevant to youth needs.34 Like many other policy frameworks, the MDGs treat youth as a single identity group, and target unemployment as a key factor in relation to violent conflict as well as juxtaposing employment against involvement in conflict.35

UNDP underscores the centrality of youth participation in achieving the MDGs. "Young people are key actors for the achievement of the goals, but through their participation in the MDGs, youth can also be empowered and hence benefit from the attention on MDGs."36 The institution identifies youth as a key partner in the Millennium Campaign and is seeking to mobilize youth activism by holding 2015 summits in all regions, such as the Pan-African 2015 Summit held in Dakar in 2004.37 Challenges however, remain. "While there seems to be an assumption that young people are useful as agents or representatives of the MDG campaign, there is little to suggest that there has been a serious process of engagement or consultation with youths on how they view the MDGs. There also appears to be some confusion about whether the MDGs should target youth to meet the challenges for youth or the advance development in general."38

1. Johanna Mendelson-Forman and Merriam Mashatt, "Employment generation and Economic Development in Stabilization and Reconstruction Operations," Stabilization and Reconstruction Series No. 6, March 2007, United States Institute of Peace, 2.
2. Woodward, Susan, "Economic Priorities for Successful Peace Implementation," in Ending Civil Wars: The Implementation of Peace Agreements, ed. Stephen John Stedman, Donald Rothchild, Elizabeth M. Cousens (Boulder, Colorado: Lynne Reinner, Inc., 2002), 202.
3. Mendelson-Forman and Mashatt, "Employment generation and Economic Development in Stabilization and Reconstruction Operations," 1.
4. Ibid., 3.
5. UN, "Employment Creation, Income Generation and Reintegration in Post-Conflict Settings," United Nations, May 2008, 10.
6. Ibid.
7. UN, "Employment Creation, Income Generation and Reintegration in Post-Conflict Settings," United Nations, May 2008, 10.
8. UNDP, "Youth and Violent Conflict: Society and Development in Crisis?," United Nations Development Programme, 2006: 39.
9. Ibid.
10. Janvier D. Nkurunziza, "Generating Rural Employment in Africa to Fight Poverty," United Nations Economic and Social Council, Paper presented at ECOSOCs High-Level Segment, New York, May 9, 2006: 1.
11. UNDG, An Assessment of the Role and Experiences of UN Agencies in Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers, United nations Development Group, November 17, 2003: 9.
12. Ibid., 11.
13. UNDG, "An Assessment of the Role and Experiences of UN Agencies in Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers," United Nations Development Group, November 17, 2003: 13.
14. ECOSOC, "Commission for Social Development," 34 and UNDP, Post-Conflict Economic Recovery: Enabling Local Ingenuity, 38.
15. ILO, "United Nations Initiative on Youth Employment," International Labour Office, Committee on Employment and Social Policy, (GB.286/ESP/5), March 2003: 3.
16. ECOSOC, "Commission for Social Development," 34.
17. UNDP, "Youth and Violent Conflict: Society and Development in Crisis?," United Nations Development Programme, 2006: 36.
18. UNDP, "Youth and Violent Conflict: Society and Development in Crisis?," United Nations Development Programme, 2006: 37.
19. Ibid., 38 and DESA, "Review of National Action Plans on Youth Employment: Putting Commitment into Action," Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), United Nations, 2007: 13.
20. ECOSOC, "Commission for Social Development: Report on the forty-fifth session (22 March 2006 and 716 February 2007)," United Nations Economic and Social Council, Official Records, Supplement No.6, (E/2007/26), 2007: 39 and UNDP, Youth and Violent Conflict: Society and Development in Crisis?, United Nations Development Programme, 2006: 38.
21. UNDP, "Youth and Violent Conflict: Society and Development in Crisis?," United Nations Development Programme, 2006: 38.
22. Ibid., 33.
23. Ibid., 35.
24. UN, "Background Information: The World Programme of Action for Youth to the Year 2000 and Beyond, United Nations."
25. UNDP, "Youth and Violent Conflict: Society and Development in Crisis?," United Nations Development Programme, 2006: 36.
26. UNDP, "Youth and Violent Conflict: Society and Development in Crisis?," United Nations Development Programme, 2006: 38.
27. A.R. Khan, "Employment and Millenium [sic] Development Goals: Analytics of the Linkage in the Context of an Accelerated Effort to Achieve the MDGs," Political Economy Research Institute: University of Massachusetts Amherst, October 2007, 3.
28. Ibid., 4.
29. Ibid., 5.
30. Ibid., 5.
31. Ibid., 5-6.
32. UNDP, "Youth and Violent Conflict: Society and Development in Crisis?," United Nations Development Programme, 2006: 37.
33. Ibid.
34. UNDP, "Youth and Violent Conflict: Society and Development in Crisis?," United Nations Development Programme, 2006: 37.
35. Ibid., 38.
36. Ibid., 37.
37. Ibid., 37.
38. Ibid., 38.

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