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PSRP Researcher Presenting: What Price Peace? Doing justice to the needs of child ex-combatants in post-conflict reconstruction
June 16, 2016 @ 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm
PSRP researcher Rachel Anderson will present a paper on ‘What Price Peace? Doing justice to the needs of child ex-combatants in post-conflict reconstruction’ at the British International Studies Association (BISA) 41st International Conference 2016, on 16th June in Edinburgh. Rachel’s paper is part of the panel ‘Macro and Micro Challenges in Transitional Justice’ .
What Price Peace? Doing justice to the needs of child ex-combatants in post-conflict reconstruction
The role of children in armed conflict, and the need to address this issue in post-conflict reconstruction, has gained increasing visibility on the world stage in recent years. Sierra Leone’s post-conflict reconstruction represents the first time in which the needs of children who participated in the conflict were acknowledged in the formal peace process. Its post-conflict reconstruction, and its DDR process in particular, has been hailed as a success story by the international community and used as a model in other peace operations. Yet, within Western-authored DDR literature there is a widespread but little interrogated assertion that, in post-conflict contexts, resettling former child soldiers with their families is always the best option for social reintegration. Family members, it is argued, are most able to provide the psychosocial support that child ex-combatants require in order to successfully make the transition to civilian life in the aftermath of war.
Drawing on empirical research undertaken in Sierra Leone, this paper will question the universality of this assumption. Using an interdisciplinary and multi-method approach, the paper will analyse issues relating to family reintegration in child soldier DDR and seek to determine whether the current approach is indeed always ‘in the best interests of the child’. The findings suggest that whilst this approach has a number of benefits in the short-term, it may also lay the foundations for renewed conflict by reifying contentious pre-war power structures which perpetuate social injustices against the youth population.