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Save the Children International
To better understand the context of the engagement of youth formerly associated with armed groups and armed forces as children in peacebuilding activities, the paper uses a gendered lens in providing an interpretation, including a nuanced understanding of the dimensions of the many conflicts in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The DRC has a long-checkered history of violent conflict and political crises involving different national, regional and international actors. These conflicts and insecurities span more than two decades. The UN has been actively involved in the DRC since 1999, following the establishment of the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO). In 2018, the DRC had its first peaceful transition of political power from the Joseph Kabila-led administration to Felix Tshisekedi. However, violent conflicts are still ongoing in parts of the country, and over hundred armed groups continue to operate in the country’s eastern region.
Additionally, the paper provides an analysis of the trajectory of children formerly associated with armed forces and armed groups, who also form the youth, and their significance or political agency. It discusses the key barriers (including social norms, legislative, institutional capacity, political will etc.) to ensuring safe and meaningful inclusion and participation of youth and the mapping of actors with the mandate and capacity to act for inclusion and participation of youth in peacebuilding. The last section concludes and provides clear tangible suggestions for increased inclusion of youth formerly associated with armed forces and armed groups in peacebuilding initiatives.