The Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative seeks to progressively end the use and recruitment of child soldiers through a security sector approach. In a world where children continue to be used as weapons of war, we cannot wait until the child has left the field to effectively protect them. We must be proactive in our approach.
The abuse of youth as weapons of war is a reality that can’t be resolved on the day soldiers face them in the field, nor is it acceptable to wait till after the abuse has happened to try to address the harm.
Child soldiers do not just occur because a state has a failing economy, a large percentage of people living in poverty, or a high population of young people. We have entered an age where children are used deliberately as a combat tactic with strategic advantages. The use of children as weapons of war must be recognized as a security concern with lasting implications for peace and stability.
Complimenting the International Response
The contemporary use of children as weapons of war continues to challenge the international community. Often left picking up the pieces after the child has served as a soldier, we have failed to protect the child, and ultimately prevent their recruitment and use as a child soldier in the first place. Tackled from a humanitarian approach, the security sector actor is not included in the international response or solution to the issue.
No individual country or regional organization had yet developed coherent policies, or military and police doctrine for dealing with child soldiers during peace operations. Our unique approach working with military, police and peacekeeping forces—often the first point of contact for child soldiers—is breaking new ground, and is a critical part of interrupting the cycle of recruitment of children by armed groups.
Through taking a security sector approach, we compliment international efforts, including child protection, international law, and demobilization, disarmament and reintegration programs. Through engaging with the security sector actors, who are often the first point of contact for child soldiers in the field, we can create a comprehensive international response that enables us to take a preventive approach to the issue of children used as weapons of war.
In order to solve this problem it must be seen as a security concern and security sector actors must be included as part of the solution. Through this prevention-oriented approach, we aim to create the necessary tools and training, supported by research, to better protect children from recruitment, and in so doing, help end this crime against humanity, community-by-community, country-by-country, once and for all.
Our Programmatic Pillars
The Dallaire Initiative delivers comprehensive, prevention-oriented training to military, police, peacekeeping and other security forces, which are often the first point of contact for child soldiers
The Dallaire Initiative conducts rigorous academic research at a world-class university to build—and share—knowledge, which in turn leads to new solutions
The Dallaire Initiative develops partnerships to promote the universalization of, and adherence to, existing international conventions against the use of child soldiers, and to advocate for robust policy change where necessary.
Our Staff, Fellows and Associates
This is our dedicated team who work day-in and day-out together to achieve our mission, to end the use of child soldiers worldwide.
International Advisory Council
International leaders who help amplify and support our mission
Lieutenant General Romeo A. Dallaire O.C., C.M.M. G.O.Q. M.S.C, C.D., (Retired) The Honourable Romeo Dallaire had a distinguished career in the Canadian Military, achieving the rank of Lieutenant-General and Assistant Deputy Minister of Human Resources. After his retirement he founded the namesake organization The Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative in 2007 with the mission to end the recruitment and...View profile
Maurice Baril enlisted in the Canadian Officer Training Corps, while studying at the University of Ottawa, became an officer in 1963, and was assigned to the Royal 22nd Regiment in 1964. Among his numerous appointments were those with the Canadian Airborne Regiment (1968-1971) and the École supérieure de guerre in Paris (1977-78). Promoted to lieutenant colonel, he commanded the...View profile
Ishmael Beah was born in Sierra Leone in 1980. During the civil war in Sierra Leone he was a child soldier. His best selling book, “A Long Way Gone” details this experience. He moved to the United States in 1998 and finished his last two years of high school at the United Nations International School in New York. In...View profile
Major General (ret) Patrick Cammaert has a distinguished military career in both The Netherlands with the Royal Netherlands Marine Corps and the United Nations, where he served as Sector Commander in Cambodia (UNTAC), as Assistant Chief of Staff in Bosnia/Herzegovina (UNPROFOR), as Force Commander in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE), as Military Advisor to the Department of Peace Keeping Operations...View profile
A former child soldier, Michel Chikwanine has already endured and overcome unimaginable pain and struggles. His passion and belief in the possibility for change makes him a truly remarkable individual and humanitarian. Born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Michel grew up amid the terror of the Great War of Africa. He witnessed the torture of his father, who...View profile
Nigel Fisher, O.C., O.Ont., M.S.C., LL.D (Hon) has worked for over three decades with the United Nations in 15 countries: with UNICEF for over two decades in Asia, Africa and the Middle East, with which he specialized in the protection of children affected by armed conflict; with the UN Department of Peacekeeping at the rank of Assistant Secretary-General and...View profile
During his 38 year Public Service career, Bob Fowler was the Foreign Policy Advisor to Prime Ministers Trudeau, Turner and Mulroney, Deputy Minister of National Defence, Canada’s longest serving Ambassador to the United Nations, Ambassador to Italy and the 3 Rome-Based UN Food Agencies, Sherpa for the Kananaskis G8 Summit (chairing the creation of the Africa Action Plan, which...View profile
Senator Mobina Jaffer represents the province of British Columbia in the Senate of Canada, where she chairs the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights. Appointed to the Senate on June 13, 2023 by Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, she is the first Muslim senator, the first African-born senator, and the first senator of South Asian descent. Senator Jaffer also sits...View profile
The Right Honourable Paul Martin was the twenty-first Prime Minister of Canada from 2003 to 2006 and Minister of Finance from 1993 to 2002. Since leaving office, Mr. Martin co chaired a high level panel responsible for setting a report on a new strategic vision for the African Development Bank, following upon an earlier United Nations panel report on...View profile
Dr. James Orbinski is a globally recognized humanitarian practitioner and advocate, and a leading scholar in global health. Dr. Orbinski served as international president for Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders (MSF), from 1998 to 2001, and accepted the accepted the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to MSF in 1999 for its pioneering approach to medical humanitarianism, and most...View profile
VEILLEUX, Gérard, O.C., B.Comm., M.Pub. Admin., born May 7th, 1942 in East Broughon. He attended Laval University earning a Bachelor of Commerce Degree in 1963 and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Carleton University in Ottawa. In March 1994, he attended the Advanced Management Program at the Harvard Business School. From 1982 to 1986, he served as Secretary...View profile
Jody Williams received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997 for her work as founding coordinator of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, which shared the Peace Prize with her that year. Since January of 2006, she has served as the founding chair of the Nobel Women’s Initiative, which uses the influence of the six women Peace Laureates of the...View profile