Message from Canada’s Minister of National Defence

Photo of the Canadian Minister of National Defence

In 2017, Canada was proud to launch the Vancouver Principles on Peacekeeping and the Prevention of the Recruitment and Use of Child Soldiers. Although the recruitment and use of children by armed forces and armed groups is explicitly prohibited under international law, it nevertheless remains a persistent and deeply troubling trend, affecting tens of thousands of children, both girls and boys, worldwide.

More than half of current United Nations peacekeeping operations are taking place in countries where child soldiers are actively employed. The Vancouver Principles were designed to bring attention to the important role of United Nations peacekeeping operations – and of military, police, and civilian peacekeepers – in confronting and ending child recruitment and use.

More than 85 countries have endorsed the Vancouver Principles since they were launched. While this is a tremendous success, political endorsement alone does not ensure change. This document focuses on the critical question of implementation, and is a unique contribution to the global conversation on child protection.

While Canada was eager to lead the development of this guidance, the process was only made possible by the meaningful engagement of experts and stakeholders from across the international community. I would like to sincerely thank all the organizations and Member States that contributed to the development of this document.

A special thanks to Lieutenant-General (ret) The Honourable Roméo A. Dallaire for his steadfast leadership on this issue. His work has provided us with a strong foundation to build upon with the Vancouver Principles.

We hope that this guidance will serve as a practical and valuable resource for those who work to protect children from armed conflict around the world. This should be considered a living document that enables us to collectively continue to identify best practices and improve our approach in operationalizing the Vancouver Principles.

Eradicating the recruitment and use of children by armed forces and armed groups will reduce conflict. Through our collective and concerted efforts, we can and will make a difference.

Original signed by:

The Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, PC, OMM, MSM, CD, MP
Minister of National Defence

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