Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Mélanie Joly, Minister of International Development Ahmed Hussen, and Minister of National Defence, Bill Blair, have described as unacceptable, the use of Child Soldiers.
In a statement issued today, they said “of all the failures of humanity that occur in and around armed conflict, the use of children as soldiers is undoubtedly among the worst”.
The statement noted that the International Day Against the Use of Child Soldiers exists to remind the world that urgent action is needed to end the exploitation of children who are unlawfully recruited and made to serve as soldiers, spies, messengers, porters, cooks and more.
It said armed forces and armed groups may commit crimes of sexual violence against children, along with other grave violations of their rights, noting that the practice is unacceptable.
According to the statement, the event is a reminder of their duty to strive for a world where children are free to be children.
It read “Canada has long been committed to ending this grave violation of children’s rights and international humanitarian law.
“Launched in 2017, the Vancouver Principles on Peacekeeping and the Prevention of the Recruitment and Use of Child Soldiers are focused on ending this practice in contexts where UN peacekeeping missions operate.
“Worldwide, a total of 107 UN member states have endorsed the Vancouver Principles to date. The Canadian Armed Forces’ Dallaire Centre of Excellence for Peace and Security supports the implementation of the Vancouver Principles within Canada’s military and continues to make progress toward that goal.
“Additionally, Canada continues to support the UN Department of Peace Operations as it integrates the Vancouver Principles into the work of peacekeeping missions through updated guidance, training, and tools.
“Canada is also supporting the UN Institute for Disarmament Research to build knowledge on how to help soldiers, including those who were recruited as children, to leave armed conflict and reintegrate into society.
“The goal of this action-oriented research project, which is taking place in Cameroon, Chad, Colombia, Iraq, Niger and Nigeria, is to develop more effective disarmament and reintegration programs that are tailored to the age and gender of participants.
“Children who are forced to serve in armed conflict often suffer severe physical, mental and emotional wounds—even death. Canada is grateful for the efforts of child protection advocates, civil society organizations, peacekeepers and all who dedicate themselves to ending this abhorrent practice.”