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Jobs after war – Building sustainable peace

Article | 23 February 2004

GENEVA – A new ILO publication, Jobs after war (Note 1), focuses attention on the vital role of jobs in the peace and reconstruction puzzle after war.

Rather than the traditional exclusive focus on state security, the book focuses on the larger concept of human security, including economic, food security, health, environmental, personal, community and political aspects and the importance of jobs in it.

Conflicts contribute to a dramatic drop in life expectancy, with the figure for Sierra Leone now reported to be 25.9 years. These demographic changes have an important impact on society at large and the labour market in particular. Women may have to take more responsibilities to ensure the basic survival of their families. Afghanistan, for example, is estimated to have 1.5 million war widows.

Conflicts also lead to a loss of substantial skilled and unskilled labour. Among the 1.7 million people who died in 20 years of fighting and political mass murder in Cambodia were most of the country's doctors, lawyers and teachers.

The book demonstrates the complexity of tackling the immense post-conflict job challenge and the essential elements of an effective response to it. Local economic development, skills training, micro finance, labour based infrastructure programmes, macro economic policies, the provision of social protection and the contributions of ILO constituents, other civil society groups and international bodies all play a role in such a response. Each chapter highlights a particular piece of the puzzle and contributes to outline the scope and nature of the challenges as well as modalities for dealing with them.

For more information, contact the ILO's InFocus Programme on Crisis Response and Reconstruction, phone: +4122/799-7069; fax: +4122/799-6189; e-mail: or ILO Publications Bureau, phone: +4122/799-6301, e-mail:

Note 1 - Jobs after war - A critical challenge in the peace and reconstruction puzzle. Edited by Eugenia Date-Bah. InFocus Programme on Crisis Response and Reconstruction, International Labour Office, Geneva, 2003. 452 pp. ISBN 92-2-113810-0. Price: 50 Swiss francs; 32 euros, US$ 24.95.