During his welcoming remarks on behalf of the RDF Chief of Defence Staff, the Commandant of Rwanda Defence Force Command and Staff College, Brig Gen Didas Ndahiro said that early warning of the recruitment and use of child soldiers remains critical, given the number and intensity of prevailing conflicts.
“Today, the vulnerabilities of children extend beyond the traditional battlefield due to transnational criminal networks that target children in many forms such as child labour, sexual exploitation and indoctrination for terrorist groups. Therefore, there is an urgent need for concerted efforts to end the use of children as soldiers and instruments of conflicts,” he said.
Dr. Shelly Whitman, Executive Director of The Dallaire Institute for Children, Peace and Security said that prevention requires the endorsing nations (to the Vancouver Principles on Peacekeeping and the prevention of the Recruitment of Child Soldiers) to understand that taking responsibility at home for prevention of the recruitment and use of children as soldiers is where the battle must begin.
Lt Gen (Rtd) Roméo Dallaire, Founder of the Dallaire Institute for Children, Peace and Security who delivered a video message during the opening ceremony, noted that to date, 105 nations have endorsed the Vancouver Principles with Rwanda leading as the first endorsing nation in Africa and implementing across the continent.
Launched in February 2019, the Dallaire Institute’s Knowledge for Prevention (K4P) project has three interrelated areas of focus: develop an early warning system for child soldier recruitment and use; incorporate child centered indicators within broader early warning systems of conflict prevention; and, use the knowledge gained to improve prevention mechanisms to better protect children in conflict environments.
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