Alpaslan Özerdem and Sukanya Podder
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Disarming Youth Combatants: Mitigating Youth Radicalization and Violent Extremism

Journal of Strategic Security

Abstract

In the complex of motivating variables that define the push and pull factors behind recruitment and participation in civil conflict, "radicalization"—or "violent extremism"—is not conceived as a very strong motive, as is the case with studies on terrorism. As part of disarming youth combatants, the linkages between reintegration outcomes and possible recruitment into radical and extremist violence must be better understood to mitigate such risks. In our analysis, the policies guiding reintegration of child soldiers and youth should be better attuned to the relationship between recruitment motivations and reintegration outcomes and must be approached from a political lens rather than a purely technical one. The risk of radicalization and involvement in violent extremism is ultimately a structural challenge, which needs to address root causes of recruitment rather than trying to find a solution through a band-aid approach of stopgap reintegration assistance.