Canada, along with the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative, is opening a new front in the international community’s fight against the use of children as weapons of war with the launch of the Vancouver Principles.
The principles, announced at the 2017 UN Peacekeeping Defence Ministerial in Vancouver this week, will be critical in ensuring that peacekeepers are prepared to face and ultimately prevent the recruitment and use of child soldiers. The principles have been signed off on by more than 50 countries so far.
“Without effective training, peacekeepers who face child soldiers will either underreact, overreact or not react at all,” said LGen Roméo Dallaire, founder of the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative. “The Vancouver Principles pushes the international community boldly forward on issues related to peacekeeping and protecting children used as weapons of war and ensure peacekeepers are prepared.”
Preventing recruitment and use
The purpose of the Vancouver Principles is to prioritize and further operationalize child protection within UN peacekeeping with a focus on preventing the recruitment and use of child soldiers. The principles ensure that children are no longer relegated to the margins on the international peace and security agenda, but are central to it.
Learn more: Vancouver Principles
The Vancouver Principles were conceived by the Government of Canada in partnership with the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative — based at Dalhousie University — and developed in consultation with the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations, UNICEF, the Special Representative to the Secretary General for Children and Armed Conflict, child protection actors and civil society partners, and UN Member States.
“The Vancouver Principles represent the culmination of years of hard work and advocacy by the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative and its staff” said Shelly Whitman, executive director of the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative. “Today marks an historic day, a day we will mark as central to our mission to ensure that we can prevent the use of children as weapons of war.”
Working towards a better future
The Vancouver Principles represent a busy year for the Dallaire Initiative and the Canadian Government on promoting the protection of children. The Vancouver Principles builds off earlier steps that includes Canada signing the Safe Schools Declaration and the creation of the Canadian Armed Force Joint Doctrine Note on Child Soldiers—both supported through the work and advocacy of the Dallaire Initiative.
"A future where children are no longer used as weapons of war is within our grasp — but only if we choose to make children a priority to achieve peace and security," said Dr. Whitman.
Learn more about the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative at its website.
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