4 September 2023
Our new Research Paper Youth Associated with Non-State Armed Groups: Building an Evidence Base on Disengagement Pathways and Reintegration Challenges presents a comprehensive examination of the realities faced by 'Youth Associated with Non-State Armed Groups' (YANSAG).
Based on field data collected in Somalia, Yemen, South Sudan and Colombia and authored by our Head of Research and Policy Studies Dr Erica Harper and Visiting Research Fellow Dr Yosuke Nagai, the paper analyses the distinct needs of these young people, as well as their potential — and often overlooked — role in peacebuilding efforts.
‘This paper offers unique insight into how the community of practice might develop more effective and impactful strategies when dealing with former combatants. This is a topical issue for both countries where non-international armed conflicts are taking place, but also for countries of origin seeking to reintegrate YANSAG’ underlines Dr Haper.
In this paper, the authors introduce the term 'Youth Associated with Non-State Armed Groups' (YANSAG) and highlight their lack of recognition as 'youth' as well as the absence of an international protection framework that caters for their distinct needs and vulnerabilities.
‘Often, discussions within the realm of conflict resolution, disarmament, reintegration, and counterterrorism overlook the complexities faced by YANSAG. This paper aims to rectify this oversight and trigger discussions aimed at empowering YANSAG as agents of peace’ explains Dr Nagai.
The paper's findings draw from an analysis of semi-structured interviews with 120 youth previously associated with non-State armed groups (NSAGs) such as Al-Shabaab, the Houthis, SPLM-LO, and FARC. It confirms the disproportionate participation of young people in violent extremism and NSAGs at between 70-90 percent. The data also highlights the vulnerabilities faced by these individuals both before and after their engagement. Strikingly, a vast majority of respondents had desired to leave their groups but lacked opportunity.
Hindrances included fears of reprisals, lack of practical support, and to a lesser extent, the absence of legal amnesty. The paper also highlights consistent messages from YANSAG to their peers, emphasizing the scope of life outside of the group.
‘In short, we need to radically rethink our approach to YANSAG. Strategies need to be centred around prevention, providing concrete assistance for safe disengagement, extending juvenile justice norms to YANSAG, and integrating restorative justice with a focus on desistance rather than de-radicalization’ underlines Dr Nagai.
‘Integrating YANSAG’s concerns into conversations around peacebuilding, stabilization, resilience and broader youth agendas is also pivotal’ he adds.
Our Research Fellow Dr Eugénie Duss answers our questions related to this update that follows the attacks carried out by Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Israel’s subsequent Iron Sword operation.
Hailing from 30 different countries, the 44 participants bring a wealth of experience from a wide range of sectors, including international organizations, NGOs, government entities, development agencies, law firms, and the private sector.
Panelists will address the relevance of the case for armed conflict classification, rebel governance, the protection of cultural property in armed conflicts, and the nexus requirement.
This online short course focuses on the specific issues that arise in times of armed conflict regarding the respect, protection and fulfilment of human rights. It addresses key issues like the applicability of human rights in times of armed conflict; the possibilities of restricting human rights under systems of limitations and derogations; and the extraterritorial application of human rights law.
This online short course will cover the ‘nuts and bolts’ of implementation, including national legislation, dissemination and training, and discuss the mechanisms such as the International Fact-Finding Commission, as set out in the treaties.
This project will develop guidance to inform security, human rights and environmental debates on the linkages between environmental rights and conflict, and how their better management can serve as a tool in conflict prevention, resilience and early warning.
Oliver Peters / Pixabay
The ‘Counter-Terror Pro LegEm’ project combines legal analysis with social science research to (1) examine the effectiveness of counterterrorism measures and their effects on human rights and (2) analyse the structure of terrorist networks such as Al Qaeda or the Islamic State and see whether they qualify as ‘organized armed groups’ for the purpose of international humanitarian law.