About the issue:
Young people play a crucial role in driving social and political change across the globe. Historically they have spearheaded social movements in contexts as diverse as the South African anti-apartheid struggle, the US civil rights movement, Tiananmen Square protests in China, or the “Arab Spring”. Today, young women and men are leading global protests against police brutality, struggles for climate justice and pro-democracy protests.
Despite their role in mass movements, young people often appear to be treated as peripheral stakeholders within transitional justice processes. They can be marginalised or excluded from the political, peacebuilding or accountability processes aimed at addressing the causes and consequences of conflicts. Young people, who make enormous sacrifices in the course of these conflicts, are many times expected to return to disrupted educational institutions, seek employment, or simply wait, as others make the decisions or shape the narratives of past conflicts. While the impact and role of youth in peacebuilding has received increased recognition, scant comparable attention has been given to the implications or role of youth in transitional justice processes.
Young people are severely affected by violent conflict, both as victims and as perpetrators, through being recruited into armed groups, often as child soldiers, or through voluntary participation in protests and dissent that may face violent repression. Also their vibrant role as social and political change agents animates peace, justice, accountability, or reconciliation efforts. Their direct experiences make them arguably among the most crucial stakeholders in socializing and democratizing transitional justice processes across generations and in the prevention of future conflicts. As such – and because of their enduring role in the legitimacy and durability of peace processes – transitional justice processes should cultivate spaces for meaningful inclusion of young women and men as stakeholders. Young people bring creative leadership styles and diverse methodologies for inclusive and participatory decision-making – frequently honed and practiced in the course of conflicts – that offer innovations of potentially great value to transitional justice approaches.
While youth participation, along with other marginalised groups, has been recognised by policy makers as key to inclusive transitional justice, this has seldom gone beyond superficial approaches. The transitional justice field has yet to fully take into account young people’s needs, priorities, skills and agendas in how it frames its purpose and implements processes and mechanisms to give effect to such an expanded horizon.
Further, many young women confront multiple and intersectional experiences of marginalization – excluded for being young, poor, and women of colour. Young people who speak non-dominant languages, are members of indigenous communities, are sexual minorities, non-formally educated, or differently-abled are inevitably further excluded in these processes. Thus, transitional justice needs to proactively include those who are all too often on the sidelines of peace processes.
Themes and sub-themes:
- How can transitional justice (both formal and informal) genuinely include and more effectively harness youth innovation, when conventional transitional justice models have often been framed by ‘the old and wise’?
- What youth-led or -initiated approaches to transitional justice have been explored in different contexts that may expand the more traditional transitional justice categories, instruments or approaches? What innovations and new methods (including social media and cyber capacities, art, music, poetry, or other cultural forms, etc.) might young people add to the conventional set of approaches?
- Do transitional justice processes have the potential to highlight the conditions of young people and respond to their basic needs and ambitions for a future post-transition society?
- How does young people’s engagement facilitate the goal of non-recurrence or preventing future conflict?
- What possibilities exist for innovation or transformation at the nexus of youth and transitional justice, to re-imagine what transitional justice looks like? Are, or should, youth futures post-conflict be different from those of the rest of the population?
- Are there particular spheres of distinct importance to youth – for example education, criminal justice, security sector reform, or DDR – that need to be reconceptualised from a youth perspective?
- What are the barriers and challenges to ensuring that transitional justice processes are youth inclusive?
We would particularly encourage contributions from young scholars, practitioners and activists as we seek to amplify the voices of young contributors in shaping the Special Issue. We also encourage contributions that break the mold in the creative form, style and content of submissions, whether local, national or comparative in their focus. This can include written and graphic contributions, including poetry, spoken word, artistic expression, and musical lyrics, etc.
The Guest Editors for the Special Issue are: Ali Altiok, Youth, Peace and Security Project Officer at Interpeace; Anjli Parrin, Associate Director, Project on War Crimes and Mass Graves, Columbia Law School Human Rights Institute; Graeme Simpson, Principal Representative and Senior Peacebuilding Adviser, Interpeace NY, and Lead Author of the Progress Study on Youth, Peace and Security mandated by UNSC Resolution 2250; and Njoki Wamai, Assistant Professor, International Relations Department, United States International University-Africa.
The deadline for submissions is 1 June 2021.
Papers should be submitted online on the IJTJ webpage at www.ijtj.oxfordjournals.org.
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