Security

Canada launches global effort to help UN peacekeepers‎ prevent recruitment and use of child soldiers

Canada launches global effort to help UN peacekeepers‎ prevent recruitment and use of child soldiers

Today, 245 million children worldwide live in countries and territories affected by armed conflicts. Conflict disproportionately affects thousands of girls and boys, who are forced to serve as soldiers in situations of armed conflict.

The Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Foreign Affairs; the Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of National Defence; and the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, along with Lieutenant-General (Retired) Roméo Dallaire, today announced the launch of the Vancouver Principles on Peacekeeping and the Prevention of the Recruitment and Use of Child Soldiers, on the margins of the 2017 United Nations Peacekeeping Defence Ministerial conference in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Canada launches global effort to help UN peacekeepers‎ prevent recruitment and use of child soldiers

Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

The Vancouver Principles are a set of political commitments endorsed by UN member states that enhance the ability of personnel in UN peacekeeping operations to:

  • take a more assertive approach to preventing child recruitment;
  • strengthen the identification of early warning signs;
  • establish reporting on abuses and grave violations against children in armed conflict;
  • encourage the inclusion of child protection mandates in peacekeeping operations; and
  • provide psychological support for peacekeepers who face child soldiers.

Canada commends all endorsing states for their commitment to protect children in the context of peacekeeping operations and for their efforts to ensure that all children have safe spaces to learn and grow.

In support of these efforts, Canada’s Peace and Stabilization Operations Program (PSOPs) is providing $1.25 million for a joint project of UNICEF and the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative.

Quotes

“When it comes to girls and boys affected by conflict, we cannot accept the status quo. Canada is raising the bar, and it is thanks to Canadian leadership in peace operations that 55 countries are today signing on to the Vancouver Principles to end the use of child soldiers in regions where peacekeeping missions operate. These common-sense steps aim to prevent the use of children as tools of war and ensure their protection in situations of armed conflict. We will work together with our partners on implementation and encourage other member states to join this global effort.”

– Hon. Chrystia Freeland, P.C., M.P., Minister of Foreign Affairs

“Preventing the recruitment and use of child soldiers must gain momentum and remain a strategic priority. Operationalizing the Vancouver Principles means being proactive, committed and diligent in ensuring children remain children, not instruments of warfare. Canada is eager to work with like-minded countries and to share best practices, beginning with training and education in peacekeeping operations. We applaud those countries that have endorsed the Vancouver Principles and welcome all member states to join us in this effort.”

– Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of National Defence

“Eliminating all violations against children in all settings, including in situations of armed conflict and humanitarian emergencies, is a priority for Canada. Canada recognizes the need and firmly supports efforts to prevent the unlawful recruitment and use of children in armed conflict, as well as to rehabilitate and reintegrate children who have been recruited and involved in hostilities.”

– Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of International Development and La Francophonie

“Without the necessary tools and tactics to face the recruitment and use of child soldiers, peacekeepers will under-react, overreact or not react at all. The Vancouver Principles ensure that UN member states prioritize the prevention of the recruitment and use of child soldiers in regions where peacekeeping missions operate. Through a prevention-oriented approach, we can ensure we put children’s rights up front and, ultimately, make the use of children as weapons of war unthinkable.”

– Lieutenant-General (Retired) Roméo Dallaire, founder of the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative

Quick Facts

  • The Vancouver Principles were developed by the Government of Canada, in partnership with the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative and in consultation with the United Nations.
  • In 2007, the Paris Principles were established and endorsed by Canada. They lay out detailed guidelines for protecting children from recruitment and for providing assistance to those already involved with armed groups or forces to support their release and reintegration.
  • In 2017, Canada endorsed the Safe Schools Declaration, which calls on states to protect schools and universities from military use during armed conflict.
  • In 2015, the Kigali Principles were established as a set of commitments on how to better protect civilians in peacekeeping operations. Canada endorsed the Kigali Principles in 2016.

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