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Youth peacebuilders and conflict prevention in West Africa
13 Aug 2020
Policy Brief
By: Charles Ukeje

Africa’s young citizens are contributing to several ongoing efforts to directly or indirectly tackle everyday governance, security and developmental problems. Whether they receive due credit for their efforts is questionable, given how many societies tend to malign or pay lip service to youth matters.
Adults often have the misguided view that young people are responsible for undermining public order in many parts of West Africa and across the continent. Such misguided views generally miss several important points. First, the idea that today’s youth are unruly and troublesome is not only grossly exaggerated, but also misses the fact that the few who do fall into that category are themselves products of social decadence, neglect, marginalisation and exclusion. Second, and closely related to the above, is the general tendency to limit youths’ access to economic, social
and political opportunities in ways that end up creating among them a feeling of marginalisation, exclusion and alienation. This leads to frustration and pent-up anger towards society and their government.

Publication Information

Author: Charles Ukeje
Partner: TfP
West Africa’s youth landscape has changed significantly in recent decades. Young people are enjoying a vibrant civic and associational life despite the limitations imposed on them through human rights violations, governance deficits and insecurity. Youth peacebuilders in the region engage in conflict prevention mostly within localised and informal spaces. This is both because they lack opportunities and a platform to operate in formal spaces, and to avoid open confrontation with intrusive states.

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