Strengthening A Regions Response
Persistent insecurity in many Latin American states has led to growing demands on the security sector, in part caused by the increased use of children by criminal organizations. In many conflicts, organized criminal groups have made a regular practice of recruiting and using children, especially those from rural areas who often end up severing ties with their families. Forced recruitment has been one of the primary drivers of internal displacement, with families fleeing from rural areas to protect their children. In Columbia for instance, the country’s family welfare agency has taken in at least 6,000 child soldiers who either were captured from illegal armed groups or deserted. Sixty per cent had belonged to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia (Farc), who finally committed to ending child recruitment in their 2016 peace agreement with the government.
The successful implementation of the peace agreement with Farc requires dedicated resources, sustained will and institutional capacity. Columbia is also hoping to utilize its experience in combatting the use and recruitment of child soldiers in the international context. To that end, the country, along with eight others in the region, have endorsed the “Vancouver Principles”, making pledges to take a more assertive stance against the recruitment and use of child soldiers.
There is a need to conduct training with Latin American security sector forces to assist these countries in meeting their new commitments under the Vancouver Principles. However, in order for our resources and tools to resonate and be effective in the Latin American context, they must be translated into Spanish. Currently, the Dallaire Initiative has English, French and Arabic versions of our comprehensive Handbook for Security Sector Actors (now in its third edition). A Spanish translation of the handbook would enhance the Dallaire Initiative’s ability to provide resources in additional UN official languages. As a result, they could reach some of the most active troop contributing countries and support them to interrupt the recruitment and use of child soldiers globally.