Statement on International Day Against the Use of Child Soldiers


February 12, 2018 - Ottawa, Ontario - Global Affairs Canada

The Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, today issued the following statement:

“The recruitment of children, and sexual violence against boys and girls, are among the most heinous acts in war and conflict. Forced to become fighters, messengers, porters and spies, child soldiers are exposed to the dangers and horrors of war that scar them for life. It is tragic, criminal and constitutes a gross and unconscionable violation of human rights.

“Up to forty percent of child soldiers are girls. We must do everything we can to prevent the recruitment and use of both boys and girls in hostilities and to respect their human rights, particularly the 245 million living in countries and territories affected by armed conflict. This includes assisting in the release of children from armed groups and helping them successfully transition to a normal life.

“Today, Canada is providing $3.1 million to Dalhousie University and the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative to prevent the recruitment of child soldiers in South Sudan. Since 2013, 19,000 children have been recruited as part of the ongoing conflict there. The project will provide training to at least 700 troops and 80 trainers  and develop child protection measures that address the distinct needs of girl and boy soldiers and the prevention of gender-based violence.

“Last November, Canada launched the Vancouver Principles on Peacekeeping and the Prevention of the Recruitment and Use of Child Soldiers, which has since been endorsed by 59 countries.

“As Lieutenant-General (Retired) Dallaire said when the Vancouver Principles were launched, we must ‘make the use of children as weapons of war unthinkable.’ Failure to do so leaves all children in conflict vulnerable to being robbed of a core part of their humanity and saddled with a terrible burden that can take a lifetime to repair, if at all.’’

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Adam Austen
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs

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