"Use" them or "lose" them: engaging Liberia's disconnected youth through socio-political integration

Int Peacekeep. 2010;17(3):343-60. doi: 10.1080/13533312.2010.500144.


The war that ravaged Liberia between 1989 and 2003 had myriad causes and belligerents, but there can be little question of the demographic cohort that provided the manpower for the war machine: youth. Young, disconnected Liberians became easy recruits to the conflict's warring factions as they sought a sense of importance and independence away from the cultural background that marginalized them. Building on qualitative field research in Liberia, this article bridges its primary case study with theory and secondary data, to examine the threat of post-war re-marginalization and disengagement of youth in the country. The article argues that economic reintegration programmes have not addressed issues of youth empowerment directly enough, and that targeted political and social engagement strategies from a vertical and horizontal integration perspective would be more effective in the re-engagement of youth in civilian life.

Publication types

  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior* / ethnology
  • Adolescent Behavior* / history
  • Adolescent Behavior* / physiology
  • Adolescent Behavior* / psychology
  • Economics / history
  • Economics / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Education* / economics
  • Education* / history
  • Education* / legislation & jurisprudence
  • History, 20th Century
  • History, 21st Century
  • Humans
  • Liberia / ethnology
  • Psychology, Adolescent / economics
  • Psychology, Adolescent / education
  • Psychology, Adolescent / history
  • Psychology, Adolescent / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Social Alienation* / psychology
  • Social Change* / history
  • Social Responsibility*
  • Young Adult