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Minister Sajjan, Lt. General (ret’d) Roméo Dallaire, join South Sudanese advocate and entrepreneur James Thuch Madhier and leading child rights agencies to mark International Peacekeeping Day


Ahead of the anticipated release of Canada’s new defence policy, Minister of National Defence, The Honourable Harjit Sajjan and retired lieutenant-general Roméo Dallaire join South Sudanese refugee and social entrepreneur James Thuch Madhier in an open discussion on Canada’s role in protecting children in conflict.

Moderated by journalist and author Carol Off, and organized by leading Canadian child rights organizations Save the Children, the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative, UNICEF Canada and World Vision Canada, the discussion comes as Canada considers the best approaches to take in fulfilling its commitment on peacekeeping.

Minister Sajjan, General Dallaire and Thuch Madhier will discuss the challenges and successes in addressing and preventing the horrors facing children in today’s armed conflicts, and consider the leadership role Canada can play in helping keep children safe in war.

The discussion takes place following the launch of the Canadian Armed Forces Joint Doctrine Note on Child Soldiers, a world-first guidance document for military troops who encounter child soldiers. First announced in March, the doctrine has now been issued and is being incorporated into training for Canada’s troops.

The discussion will also address Canada’s recent endorsement of the Safe School Declaration, which aims to protect schoolchildren, teachers and schools during conflict. Jointly announced by Minister Sajjan, Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland and Minister for International Development and La Francophonie Marie-Claude Bibeau, Canada’s endorsement was accompanied by the commitment to have the declaration inform the planning and conduct of the Canadian military during conflict.

“With schools and hospitals bombed, families torn apart, children recruited to join armed groups, and millions forced from their homes, modern-day war is robbing children of their childhoods.  Over 250 million children are trapped in war zones, and now more than ever need Canada’s leadership to help ensure their survival and safety,” said Save the Children CEO Patricia Erb.

“We’ve seen from our work on the ground in war zones – and during their aftermath – that children are not only particularly impacted by conflict, but are also critical to ensuring sustainable peace in countries recovering from war. Canada has a critical role to play in helping children build resilience to overcome the horrors of war, and help put their countries and communities on track for lasting peace,” said World Vision Canada Director of Policy Martin Fischer.

Canada is globally respected as a defender of children’s rights and as a leading advocate on the protection of children in situations of armed conflict. Canada’s continued leadership on these critical issues will play a key role in protecting and promoting the rights of some of the world’s most vulnerable children to ensure they are safe from harm and have the opportunity to reach their full potential,” said Meg French, Chief of Program at UNICEF Canada.

“Contemporary conflict has changed, and therefore our tactics must change too. The Roméo Dallaire Child Soldier Initiative aims to work with militaries, police, policy makers, academics and humanitarians to make a long-term impact in preventing the recruitment and use of child soldiers. Working with the Canadian Forces and Government we can together proactively make the world a better place for children by ensuring one of the gravest violations against children is made “unthinkable”,” said Roméo Dallaire.

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