Dallaire Initiative Case Studies
Security Tactics and Procedures
The Dallaire Initiative teaches soldiers and police how to face child soldiers in the field. Sometimes, a child may be protecting a checkpoint that a policeman must pass. Other times, a soldier might think that a child is spying on his base. In any situation, security personnel need to know what to do. They need to have child-specific tactics and procedures in place.
Yet there is no perfect way to interact with a child soldier. Each context will demand a different reaction. This is why the Dallaire Initiative is always researching tactics. We always want to improve the practical tools that we give security personnel, so that they can best protect children and themselves.
One of the most important sources of information on this subject has been the Dallaire Initiative’s courses. Our students often teach us as much as we teach them. We appreciate learning about the experiences of soldiers and police who have already faced child soldiers. They help us improve our training for all our future students.
Children Used in Marine Piracy
During times of war, some boys and girls become soldiers; but during times of peace, they may become criminals. Indeed, in poor countries where children are not in school and have nothing else to do, illegal activity may be the only way for them to survive. Some boys and girls may even become pirates.
Today, the Dallaire Initiative is the only organisation of its kind that is looking at the problem of child maritime piracy. We’ve learned that off the coast of Somalia, about 20-30% of all captured pirates are under the age of 18. It is possible that child pirates are being used in other places, too – like the Gulf of Guinea, the Straits of Malacca or the Caribbean.
Unfortunately, navies and private security companies don’t have any rules on how to interact with child pirates. This is why our research is so important. We want to help security personnel to protect boys and girls on land and at sea. We cannot do this, though, until we understand how children are recruited and used as pirates.
By helping to end child piracy, we may even be preventing the future use of child soldiers. If conflict were to ever break out in a country where there is piracy, we think that child pirates are at a much higher risk of becoming soldiers. It’s our mission to make sure that this doesn’t happen.
Child Soldiers as an Early Warning
Contemporary conflict has created challenging new realities for governments, international bodies and security sector actors that are tasked with effecting peace. Populations are displaced and bordering regions swell with an influx of refugees, placing pressure on government and international institutions. Massacres and mass atrocities make headlines as the global public watches governments scramble to pick up the broken pieces created by conflict, rather than demanding the protection of the whole.
The global community has made efforts to curb the recruitment and use of child soldiers by adopting the reactionary, humanitarian approach of demobilisation, disarmament, and reintegration (DDR) aimed to help child soldiers reintegrate back into their communities. However, the recruitment and use of child soldiers shows no sign of declining.
The international community views the abuse of children as a tragedy but it fails to respond to the use of child soldiers as a security issue linked to the severity of conflict.
The Responsibility to Protect outlines the international community’s responsibility to prevent mass atrocities, but it also applies to the prevention of the use of child soldiers. In Central African Republic and South Sudan the abuse of children and their use as soldiers are signs that point to the amplification of conflict and mass atrocities. It is time that we recognize the recruitment and use of child soldiers as the early warning it is—in CAR, South Sudan and Rwanda we failed to do so.