February 12, 2019 – Ottawa, Ontario – Global Affairs Canada
The Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of International Development, and the Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of National Defence, today issued the following statement:
“Arming children and turning them into soldiers is one of the most egregious crimes committed in conflict. Children should not be forced to commit acts of violence, become victims of sexual violence or used as instruments of war.
“As an unwavering advocate against the use of children in armed conflict, Canada has taken steps to prevent the recruitment and use of child soldiers, help our own armed forces handle difficult operational situations that involve children, and defend and protect the rights of all children in conflict zones.
“In 2017, Canada rallied the world to endorse the Vancouver Principles, a set of pledges created in collaboration with the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative. The Principles are helping to address a gap in how the international community confronts the problem of child soldiers in the context of peacekeeping operations. We applaud the 71 countries that have signed on to this initiative and, especially, those countries that are implementing the Principles and integrating them into their training. We encourage all signatories to put the Principles into action.
“On this International Day Against the Use of Child Soldiers, we stand with our partners around the world to defend the rights of all children to live with dignity and be free of violence, exploitation and abuse, including in situations of conflict. Children represent the future of our countries and they must be protected.”