Youth in Conflict

Preventing violent conflict is imperative for development. While wars and violent confrontations are not new, the scale of violence perpetrated against civilians and the complexity of the emergencies occurring in the past couple of decades are unprecedented. During conflicts of such magnitude, masses of people are displaced after their homes and communities are destroyed, rapidly increasing the ranks of refugees and internally displaced persons throughout the world. Youth are often a targeted group during conflict. Young people’s participation in armed hostilities is facilitated through the trade of small arms and light weapons. The dearth of opportunities in their communities often leads them to gravitate towards violent conflict and acts of terrorism. Many are successfully mobilized through the ideologies of war. As victims and witnesses, they cannot help but be affected by the grim realities surrounding them. Traditional prevention mechanisms have proved top-heavy and ineffective in addressing the root causes of conflict and problems leading to the escalation of tensions. It is not surprising, then, that young people have taken on active roles and created youth networks to try to build peace and prevent outbreaks of violence. The new policies and approaches present major opportunities for progress. More importantly, the role of youth is now recognized as critical in creating long-term stability, producing effective outcomes within communit