Children and Extreme Violence
Viewing Non-State Armed Groups Through a Brand Marketing Lens
The United Nations University (UNU), in concert with UNICEF, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO), and the governments of Luxembourg and Switzerland, is leading a research initiative examining child trajectories into and out of non-state armed groups (NSAGs) in contemporary conflicts, including those listed as terrorist and characterized as "violent extremist". This project will produce programmatic guidance for preventing the recruitment and use of children by, and effectively disengaging children from, NSAGs that employ extreme violence. On 16 January 2017, UNU hosted a group of scholars and practitioners to discuss how to apply a brand marketing lens to analyzing contemporary NSAGs like Islamic State (IS). The workshop was based on the premise that it might be possible to gain additional analytical leverage and deeper understanding when examining recruitment typologies, messaging, and intergroup competition for market share.
This "State of Research" Brief provides a summary of the workshop discussions combined with a limited literature review drawing from the studies and research cited during the workshop. It outlines some robust findings and points of consensus across disciplines and practitioner experiences, focusing on those with implications for understanding child trajectories into and out of contemporary NSAGs.