Peace Processes and Social Contracts

Issue Brief | How are peace processes and social contracts linked? And where do children, youth and future generations fit in?

Mina Amiri, a psychosocial counsellor, speaks to children at the UNICEF and EU-supported Gazargah Transit Centre in Herat, Afghanistan.


This Issue Brief focuses on how peace processes can be defining moments for altering or rewriting a (pre)existing social contract. Like other events that test the very foundations of society, such as decolonization processes, anti-apartheid struggles, financial crises, and possibly also the current global pandemic, a peace process can be seen as an opportunity to correct systemic flaws.

Involving the widest possible range of relevant interest groups in a peace process can help achieve an agreement that is eventually owned by most of society. Unfortunately, the hopes and expectations of children and youth, and the needs of future generations are often overlooked. This brief offers five recommendations for improving their inclusion in both peace processes and the resulting peace agreements and social contracts:

  1. Enable participation. Consultative and participatory mechanisms are essential in ensuring a durable and peaceful social contract that is inclusive of younger and future generations.
  2. Take a long-term approach. The attention of the international community should extend beyond the negotiations and the signing of a comprehensive peace agreement, to also cover the critical period of implementing a peace accord. It is important to ensure consistent and long-term engagement throughout the peace process.
  3. Identify good practices that foster inclusion. Explore and assess concrete examples where governments have actively developed policies that are inclusive of children and youth, moving beyond executive institutions at the central level.
  4. Develop analytic tools. Develop appropriate tools to assess how responsive social contracts arising from peace agreements are to different generations.
  5. Improve data collection and measurement of deliverables for young people. More concerted efforts are needed to better quantify aspects of the social contract that are particularly relevant to young people and use this to advocate for more inclusive social contracts.
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Marco Mezzera
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