Rwanda joins global initiative to end child soldiers

Rwandan defense minister says concerted efforts needed to make ‘unthinkable’ use of children as soldiers, weapons of wars

James Tasamba   | 15.11.2019
Rwanda joins global initiative to end child soldiers FILE PHOTO

KIGALI, Rwanda

Rwanda’s Ministry of Defense on Friday signed up for a global initiative to end recruitment of child soldiers in armed conflicts. 

The ministry signed a memorandum of understanding with the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative, a global partnership committed to ending use and recruitment of child soldiers worldwide within the framework of the Vancouver Principles.

The Initiative was started in 2007 by Canadian retired Lieutenant-General Roméo Dallaire, a former Force Commander of UN Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR) during the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi.

As of 2017, seven African countries out of 14 countries worldwide were recruiting and using child soldiers in state forces or armed groups, the UN said.

These countries included Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Sudan.

In November 2017, countries operating under a UN peacekeeping mandates adopted Vancouver Principles under which the countries made political commitments to prevent recruitment and use of child soldiers.

The Vancouver Principles are now endorsed by 95 nations globally.

“It is time to prioritize the protection of children by addressing grave violations against children in armed conflicts, not by simply reacting but by preventing,” Dallaire told reporters in Rwanda’s capital Kigali.

Rwandan Minister of Defense Maj. Gen. Albert Murasira called for concerted efforts to make “unthinkable” the use of children as soldiers and weapons of wars

Today, the vulnerabilities of children extend beyond the traditional battlefields due to transnational criminal networks that prey on children for the purposes of child labor, sexual exploitation and indoctrination for terrorist groups, Murasira said.

He added that improved child protection training for military and police officers involved in peacekeeping enhances protection of children.

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