Youth Bulge and Societal Conflicts: Have Peacekeepers Made a Difference?

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View the essay on youthful populations and peace support operations (PSOs), posted in the New Security Beat.

Until recently, the question of which countries are at the most risk of violent societal conflict could be answered with a terse, two-part response: “the young and the war-torn.” This simple characterization regarding youth and conflict worked well, until the first decade of the 21st century. The proportion of youthful countries experiencing one or more violent intrastate conflicts declined from 25 percent in 1995 to 15 percent in 2005. What’s behind this encouraging slump in political unrest? One hypothesis is that peace support operations (PSOs) – peacekeepers, police units, and specialized observers that are led, authorized, or endorsed by the United Nations – appear to have made a substantial difference.