• Alpaslan Özerdem
  • Sukanya Podder
Part of the Rethinking Political Violence Series book series (RPV)


There is a rich body of academic and policy literature that engages with the reasons for youth’s centrality in the Mano River conflicts that ravaged West Africa during the first decade of the twenty-first century. In the literature, marginalization of youth, inter-generational disparities and limited access to socio-economic and political power is often taken as a point of departure for explaining youth propensity to resort to violence (Richards, 1996; Utas, 2003; Peters, 2005; Denov and MacLure, 2006). Previous research on youth recruitment and mobilization offers a diverse set of reasons that underline the importance of children and young people’s role in this context. The main arguments in this literature are suggested in the following points. First, armed mobilization in Liberia was linked to patterns of labour relations before the conflict (Munive, 2011; Hoffman, 2011). Second, physical security was the main reason for young people’s participation in conflict (Bøås and Hatløy, 2008). Third, youth recruitment was voluntary to a large extent (Utas, 2003; Brøås and Hatløy, 2008) and finally, youth’s mobilization was linked to opportunities of empowerment and access to political power, leadership, clients and wives, to which youth had little or no access in the pre-war period (Utas, 2003; 2004). Our research agrees with these main arguments in the literature, it contributes to this body of knowledge by applying the recruitment and mobilization prisms developed earlier to specify the ways in which the different trajectories of youth involvement in the Liberian civil wars affected young people’s prospects and experiences of post-conflict reintegration.


Vocational Training Armed Group Child Soldier Security Sector Reform Rebel Group 
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Copyright information

© Alpaslan Özerdem and Sukanya Podder 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alpaslan Özerdem
    • 1
  • Sukanya Podder
    • 2
  1. 1.Coventry UniversityUK
  2. 2.Centre for International Security and Resilience (CISR)Cranfield UniversityUK

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