Youth in Fragile Nations: Peacebuilders or spoilers?

Type Conference Paper - International Conference on Children and Youth affected by Armed Conflict: Where to go from here?
Title Youth in Fragile Nations: Peacebuilders or spoilers?
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2013
City Kathmandu
Country/State Nepal
There are more young people in today’s world than ever before in human history. ‘Youth are violence creators’ has become a common buzz. It is believed that a country with a youth population comprising more than one third of total population is at risk of an internal armed conflict. This proved true in Nepal and it experienced a decade long fierce fight that resulted into transformation of state structures. Now, the then rebels have secured majority in the legislative body and they are heading the government. Nepal has turned into a nascent republic nation as the youth led armed conflict abolished two and half century long monarchy.
My paper argues that over mobilization of youth in the post conflict stage has complicated the peacebuilding process. It has prolonged the post conflict transition period posing threat to economic recovery efforts. Politicization of young workers and students is fueling reoccurring tensions between trade unions and investors. The never concluding tussles in political arena of Nepal makes the neighboring two giant mega economies, China and India, feel security threat and questioning on capacity of Nepal handling the peace process. At another side of the spectrum stands a positive view that concludes: youth are the bringers of change. Inviting youth in the post conflict peace process brings added values as experiences of young people are highly variable. Youth are not a single, homogenous entity either globally or locally therefore they represent diversity and range of needs and problems correspondingly. The paper shares living experiences of youth led peacebuilding initiatives in national as well as in community level. And, it argues that absence of youth friendly structures is a major hurdle in inviting youth participation in the peace process. The paper borrows examples from post conflict country context such as Nepal, East Timor and Sri Lanka.
Many features of contemporary youth demography are not well understood. Youth focused research and the role of youth in conflict prevention and post conflict reconstruction is rare. There is a dearth of knowledge as to what are the chronological steps that help evolve youth as peace builders.

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