The use of children as weapons of war is among the most horrific abuses of our era, and a global threat to international peace and security.  If in the past, children were made to fight in spite of their youth, they are now being made to fight because of their youth

Children are viewed as cheap and expendable labour, easy to manipulate and control. They are used as combatants, messengers, porters, cooks and for sexual services. Some are abducted or forcibly recruited, while others are driven to join by poverty, abuse and discrimination, or to seek revenge for violence enacted against them or their families. Their presence extends the length and/or severity of conflicts, erodes the fabric of communities and societies and acts as an ongoing destabilizing force within nations and regions.

Lieutenant-General Roméo A. Dallaire (ret’d) established the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative(Dallaire Initiative), based at Dalhousie University, with the mission of ending the use of children as weapons of war. Focused on prevention, the Dallaire Initiative works together with national, regional and international bodies to build stability where conflict could quickly spread and destabilize whole regions.

The Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative is recognized by the UN and has created the world’s first prevention-oriented, security sector focused approach to ending the use of child soldiers in conflicts. By work collaboratively with nation-states, organizations, communities, the humanitarian, academic and security sectors, the Dallaire Initiative is:

  • Delivering comprehensive, prevention-oriented training to military, police, peacekeeping and other security forces, which are often the first point of contact for child soldiers;

  • Conducting world-class interdisciplinary research to build – and share – knowledge, which in turn leads to new solutions; and

  • Developing partnerships to advocate for policy change and to build the political will to end the use and recruitment of child soldiers.

There is an urgent need for more adequate protection of children.

The Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative (“The Dallaire Initiative”) is progressively moving to end the use of child soldiers through a unique security sector approach. Combining world-class research, high level advocacy and prevention-focused training to help make the use of child soldiers “unthinkable” to nations, communities, militaries, security sector actors, policy makers and children. Organizations and institutions as diverse as the Canadian Armed Forces, the British Army, NATO, the UN Department of Peace Keeping Operations, the African Union and several countries around the globe are using Dallaire Initiative expertise to provide training to security sector personnel to prevent the recruitment and use of child soldiers.

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