in: Journal of Youth Studies, first published 15.11.2023
For a long time, youth have been seen as a driving factor for conflicts or as victims of conflicts. While some literature and research on youth in conflict tend to be overly negative and focus on the danger posed by youth, we argue that these descriptions do not reflect reality: youth are crucial to sustainable peacebuilding and must, therefore, be included in conflict transformation processes. We demonstrate that while youth continue to experience difficulties in overtaking meaningful roles as actors of change in peacebuilding, there is an improvement in the acceptance of their agency. The article explores the case of Sierra Leone where the perception of youth can be seen as a massive change from immediately after the war to today. The article explores different roles that youth can have during and after a conflict, investigates positive impacts youth can have, describes what peace means for young people and how they would describe a desirable future, and finally speaks about how youth respond and interact with international ideas of peace and sustainability.