» Archive for: January, 2014


Are ‘business solutions’ the answer to youth unemployment?

Till recently this was a small bank office, located in a neighbourhood at some distance from the city centre. Now only an ATM remains. Whilst withdrawing cash a message flashes on the screen: €10,000 prize money for solutions tackling youth unemployment in the Hague.

There is more than a twist of irony here, asking the public to come up with ‘business solutions’ to tackle youth unemployment whilst the banking business itself is closing its offices and increasingly offers its service in an electronic, rather than personal form.

What is all this about? ChallengeDenHaag is an online platform where, in the fashion of Web 2.0 and ‘crowdsourcing’, ordinary people and communities are invited to get involved in the ‘co-creation’ of business solutions for tackling societal problems in the Hague municipality. One such problem is ‘youth unemployment’ (youth aged 16-26). The local counter stood at 3,314 unemployed youth in January 2013, a nearly 50% increase from January 2012 when the figure stood at 2,240 and it is expected to have increased further over the past year.

Behind this initiative is a so-called ‘public-private partnership’. This is composed of Enviu, a company that is in the business of social enterprising specialised in ‘starting impact-driven communities and companies’. The Municipality of the Hague and the ‘Haagse Hogeschool‘ an educational institute providing higher education. Fonds 1818 a capital fund supporting ‘social projects’ in the Hague region. Xtra a the Hague based umbrella organisation that coordinates and provides services in ‘welfare work’ across the municipality in a range of domains, and lastly the Rabobank, a commercial bank.

Any contending proposals will be assessed by a Jury (composed of representative of the partnering organisations) based on the following criteria:

-Financial sustainability

-Innovation and creativity

-Societal impact, improving the position of youth on the labour market

-Participation, whether the ‘target group’ has been involved in the development and design of the proposal

-Based on social entrepreneurship principles (profit, people, planet)

-The proposal focuses on the Hague region (and must not go beyond it)

-Desired quality: eco-sustainability

-Proposals may be submitted by existing companies (annual revenue:  < €500,000), preferable starting companies

Whether any of the proposals coming out of this competition will do much to address youth unemployment time will tell. What seems clear however is that this initiative constitutes an excellent case to analyse the shifting and inter-connecting roles and responsibilities of (local) government, business and civil society in addressing societal issues.

posted by Roy Huijsmans

CYS blog in 2013

Category: CYS specialisation

26 Jan 2014

blog 2013What has been the traffic on the Children and Youth Studies blog in its first full year running (2013)?

A total number of nearly 5,000 visits were recorded, out of which just over 3,000 were unique visits. Whilst this may mean little in the world of Google, most conventional academic publications never reach such audiences.

As the map above shows, the audience of the Children and Youth Studies blog is truly international with visits from a total of 125 countries. Peaking the list of cities from where the site was accessed is, not surprisingly, the Hague where the Institute of Social Studies is located – the physical base behind this site.

1. The Hague

2. Delhi

3. Toronto

4. Rotterdam

5. Amsterdam

6. London

7. Addis Ababa

8. Bogota

9. Mumbai

10. Da Nang

With Delhi and Toronto coming second and third on the list, and with Addis Ababa, Bogota, Mumbai and Da Nang completing the top 10 we are glad to see that we have a strong audience beyond the physical home of the ISS and we hope to expand this further in 2014.



ontarioCYS alumni John Kielty alerted us to an upcoming themed issue of iAM eMagazine of the Ontario Council for International Cooperation entitled ‘State of the World’s Youth’. Contributions were sought on issues including ‘youth unemployment’, ‘youth migration’, ‘education’, ‘maternal health’, and ‘disability and accessibility’, and could take the form of audio, video, art as well written work.

John also used the occasion to inform us about his career since graduating from the ISS with a major in Children and Youth Studies in 2009. Since the CYS programme is embedded in the MA in Development Studies, John was well-equiped to take up a position as community relations and cultural heritage manager at the Rio Tinto managed Oyu Tolgoi mine in the South Gobi desert, Mongolia. His responsibilities included responding to the daily social and environmental challenges surrounding the building of the mine’s infrastructure and managing implementation of long term sustainable development programs. Working with nomadic culture presented unique challenges around access to water, animal grazing and local employment and required constant dialogue, and meetings with herders and local government to understand various requests and concerns in order to mobilize the company’s support to implement solutions.
Following his job in Mongolia, John now lives in Bogota, Colombia with his fiancé and ISS graduate Maria Paula Ballesteros and is exploring opportunities around corporate social responsibility / community relations in mining.


thai 1

Tanks are rolling into Bangkok, a military coup in the making or the usual ‘innocent fun’ for Thailand’s children’s day?

Max Fisher claims in the Washington Post that ‘Thailand has had more coups than any other country’. In this historical light, seeing heavy military equipment rolling into Bangkok, quite understandably, has fuelled rumours about yet another military coup in the making even more so because the city for the past few weeks has been the stage of large scale street protests seeking to oust PM Yingluck and calling for a boycot of the upcoming elections (see HERE and HERE).

Meanwhile, the Royal Thai Army has ‘instructed the public not to panic‘ about the movement of military equipment, even though General Prayuth Chan-ocha has failed to rule out a military coup. It is not any coup plan, the Royal Thai Army claims, that causes this military activity, but the upcoming Thai children’s day which is celebrated annually on the second Saturday of January. As the picture from the Nation above illustrates and is explained in Khaosod: one of the highlights of children’s day in Thailand is ”the display of military hardware, in which children are invited to ride on tanks or jet fighters’.

Perhaps more so than any other profession, armies the world over have always keenly promoted their trade among the young especially. Often through the showcasing, virtually and actually, of heavy military equipment (see for example the Dutch Defence forces). The constant effort of securing the generational renewal of armed forces also underpins ongoing debates about, and creative interpretation of (see the UK case), the issue of minimum age of recruitment in armed forces (put at 15  years in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child in Article 38.3).

It is interesting to see how in the denial of any coup connections with the increased presence of military equipment in Bangkok, by referring to children’s day, the Royal Thai Army effectively constructs its participation in Thailand’s children’s day as innocent and unpolitical – something appears unchallenged by the main media reporting on it.

posted by Roy Huijsmans

vechta5-6 December 2013, colleagues at the University of Vechta, Germany organised an international conference on Childhood and Migration: Gendered and generational perspectives. The conference touched upon many forms and dimensions of children’s involvement in migration, both historically and contemporary, indicating that the theme of ‘children, childhood and migration’ has over the past decade rapidly developed into a vibrant and diverse research area.

Two ISS faculty were among the presenters. Kristen Cheney delivered a paper entitled Aids Orphanhood and the Transformation of Kinship, Fosterage, and Children’s Circulation Strategies in Uganda. Roy Huijsmans presented a paper entitled Children, Childhood and Migration: Some critical thoughts. Here is the abstract:

Limiting myself to the development literature, I first ask why it is that the issue of ‘independent child migration’ emerged as a specific field in the early 2000s even though the phenomenon itself was hardly new. I concur that its original concern was a critique to the hegemony of the child trafficking discourse, with trafficking understood as a form of boundary management within development studies’ ‘migration turn’ working to construct ‘bad’ forms and categories of mobility as separate from ‘good’ forms/categories of migration.

The ‘independent child migration’ research agenda that thus emerged may be summarised as: demonstrating young migrants’ as actors in migration; highlighting that staying is often not a desirable option’; deconstructing the trafficking discourse; and reconstruction the phenomenon of mobile children as a migration issue with exploitation instead of children’s mobility as the target for intervention. Although this research agenda generated some important insights and has affected interventions, I argue that after a decade this research agenda is in need of reflection.

Here I limit myself to three points. First, the phrase ‘independent child migration’ effectively amounted to a further compartmentalisation of migration (despite this being a point of critique in general migration studies). Such a categorising approach tends to hinder rather than deepen a situated understanding of young people in migration. The latter would require attending to relational dimensions, by for example concentrating on the role of ‘migration networks’ and the role of various conceptualisations of age shaping young people’s inclusion in the migratory landscape. Second, a relational approach is necessary for moving away from an exclusive concern with ‘critique’ based on deconstruction-based analyses towards constructive analyses that would ask how young people’s migrations shed light on broader questions in children and youth studies. This would include debates on: life course dynamics, young people and state, transnationalism, global householding, etc. Thirdly, the focus on ‘independent child migration’ has kept out of focus the largest group affected by migration: those that are not (yet) moving. A focus on the young offers much scope for teasing out the interrelation between staying and moving in migration research. 


International Institute of Social Studies

ISS is an international graduate school of policy-oriented critical social science. It brings together students and teachers from the Global South and the North in a European environment.