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The Ethnic Conflict Research Digest

2006, Vol, 6 No. 1 .


Jobs After War: A Critical Challenge in the Peace and Reconstruction Puzzle
Eugenia Date-Bah, (ed).

Geneva: International Labour Office, 2003, 452pp. Pb 24.95, ISBN 92-2-113810-0

After the end of the Cold War there was great hope that the world would face a new era of widely enjoyed improvements in economic development and peace accomplished through cooperation within and between countries. However, since then over one hundred conflicts have taken place. A number of countries experienced coups, inter-communal violence, genocide and high levels of organized crime. Even though every conflict is different and unique in its own way, there are some common factors that are usually responsible for these conflicts; such as: unemployment, poverty, political instability and economic stagnation. Jobs After War: A Critical Challenge in the Peace and Reconstruction Puzzle analyzes the nature of contemporary armed conflicts in terms of their impact on population, human, physical, socio-economic and political capital.

Jobs After War: A Critical Challenge in the Peace and Reconstruction Puzzle is divided in three parts. Part I analyzes the labor market in terms of supply and demand during and after the conflict. Part II puts a spotlight on different conflict affected and most likely to be seen vulnerable groups. In Part II, Date-Bah provides the reader with concrete examples and analysis of various organizations and their approaches towards more sustainable local economic and societal development. Several important conclusions, critiques and proposals are summarized in Part IV.

Jobs After War presents the reader with one main point that in post-conflict contexts there are no quick fix solutions. Drawing from examples of contemporary conflicts and countries that are still dealing with post-conflict peacebuilding and free market challenges (Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Timor-Leste, Angola, Guatemala, Mozambique and Rwanda), this volume shows that post-conflict assistance needs to be employment oriented from both supply and demand sides. Employment in this context is not solely an economic issue; it is an integral component of post-conflict reconstruction as well as conflict prevention.

Date-Bah notes in her own chapter ?Women and other Gender concerns in Post-conflict Reconstruction and Job Promotion Efforts,? that ?the post-conflict reintegration and reconstruction processes offer a window of opportunity for enhancing women?s and men?s socio-economic security rather than for re-establishing the status quo ante, including the gender stereotypes and traditional gender division of labor? (111). In addition, the chapter titled, ?International Organizations and Local Staff: the Case of Sarajevo? provides the reader with a solid example of lessons learned and recommendations, noting that ?agencies should aim to draw maximum benefit from the potential capacities that the involvement of local staff provides?[that] staff development is not regarded as luxury, but a necessity?[and] rather than being recruited at lower level positions, national employees should be hired as local partners who work alongside expatriates with equal authority, responsibility and decision-making powers? (385, 386, 393).

Jobs After War: A Critical Challenge in the Peace and Reconstruction Puzzle is an important contribution to the field of post-conflict reconstruction which provides a comprehensive explanation of why employment is a challenge and how to create a more sustainable approach. This volume should be one of the required readings for peace and conflict resolution and international development students, professors and practitioners.


Olja Hocevar Van Wely, Peacebuilding Independent Consultant



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