The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of International Development and Minister responsible for the Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canada, and the Honourable Anita Anand, Minister of National Defence, today issued the following statement to mark the International Day Against the Use of Child Soldiers:
“No child should ever be made to participate in war, yet children continue to be cruelly exploited in armed conflicts worldwide. Children—including boys and girls—serve as soldiers, cooks, porters, messengers, spies, and sexual slaves. Some are killed, and those who survive can suffer from deep physical, psychological and emotional scars. In all cases, they are denied their basic human rights.
“Canada is determined to prevent the recruitment and use of children in armed conflict. In 2017, Canada launched the Vancouver Principles, a set of commitments designed to help countries end this practice. In particular, the Principles focus on the role that peacekeepers can play. To date, 106 countries have endorsed the Principles. To support their implementation, Canada’s Peace and Stabilization Operations Program is providing multi-year support to the United Nations Department of Peace Operations to better prepare police, military and civilian peacekeepers to protect children.
“In October 2022, Canada also announced support for international partners working toward this goal in South Sudan with $2 million in funding that is helping to build important local and state capacity.
“Here in Canada, the Dallaire Centre of Excellence for Peace and Security is assisting the Canadian Armed Forces in integrating the Vancouver Principles into doctrine, policy, training and education. The aim is to give members of the military a better understanding of their role in preventing this terrible human rights violation.
“Much more needs to be done to ensure that children are kept out of armed conflicts, but progress is possible. On this International Day Against the Use of Child Soldiers, we recognize the important work of Canadians and people around the world, child protection actors, civil society organizations and peacekeepers in ending the recruitment of child soldiers and supporting affected children and their families. We also recognize the international community’s efforts to develop tools and commitments, including the Vancouver Principles, to protect children. These initiatives give us a sense of hope and reinforce our motivation. Canada will continue to work closely with global partners in pursuit of a world where children are free to be children.”
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Global Affairs Canada.