Empowerment: Children & Youth

This section offers definitions for terms related to the concepts of children, youth and adolescence, as well as unaccompanied children, child soldiers, child sexual exploitation. The section addresses the conceptual issues that these terms present and provides an overview of the two main notions used in policies targeting this population: protection and empowerment.

The rights and needs of children in armed conflicts are to be protected; such violence has a profound impact on childrens situations, including in the peacebuilding phase. Mass exposure of children and youth to abuse and violence, lack of education, and poor nutrition, but also the disruption of role models and moral standards have long-term implications for governance and peacebuilding. An international framework to protect children's individual rights in armed conflicts has progressively been developed, manifesting an increased involvement of the international community on this issue, with the objective of preserving the future human capital of a country.

This section also aims to articulate and acknowledge the roles of children and youth in conflict, beyond their status of victims of violence. This entails, among other elements, considering the consequences of a transition of youth to adulthood that has been affected by violence. There is a common tendency to see young people as agents of violence and as such to treat them as a threat to society, overlooking the important role of youth as peacebuilders. This section details the different forms of youth contributions to peacebuilding and provides concrete examples of children and youths participation in civil society and democratic decision-making, media production, conflict transformation and reconciliation initiatives, psycho-social recovery programs, human rights and transitional justice, security issues and economic recovery programs.

The key stakeholders involved are presented in the framework of activities supporting children and youths role in peace. These processes of empowerment may first require attention to immediate needs of protection and reintegration of children and youth that a post-conflict environment might contain.

The section then addresses key debates and implementation challenges, outlining primary issues discussed by academics and practitioners in relation to the process of including children and youth in peacebuilding processes. The points covered are illustrative of the main areas of concern and organized by four sets of issues: consideration of local cultures and customs; consideration of the diversity of children and youth's situations and agendas; children and youth's involvement at the different stages of peacebuilding programs; and material constraints of children and youth's approaches. These elements and other dimensions of the concrete implementation of the children and youths agenda are detailed in the key documents and the wide range of guidelines presented at the end of this section.

The news, reports, and analyses herein are selected due to there relevance to issues of peacebuilding, or their significance to policymakers and practitioners. The content prepared by HPCR International is meant to summarize main points of the current debates and does not necessarily reflect the views of HPCR International or the Program of Humanitarian Policy and Conflict Research. In addition, HPCR International and contributing partners are not responsible for the content of external publications and internet sites linked to this portal.