Long-time friend and donor to the Dallaire Initiative, Jim Stanford, recently made a substantial personal commitment that will support our work for many years to come. His enduring partnership with the Dallaire Initiative through the Founders Fund has been critical to keeping our operations going and allows us the flexibility and freedom to pursue strategic opportunities. Unrestricted gifts like Jim’s have been essential to our progress and enabled our exponential growth over the years. We know this new and generous gift will open up exciting opportunities for us and are deeply grateful to Jim for helping us make the recruitment and use of child soldiers unthinkable.
(PHOTO) General Dallaire and Jim Stanford together in Rwanda in 2018
From 2015-2018, the Molson Foundation’s supported the Dallaire Initiative’s pilot project called “Building Connections,” which laid the groundwork for a unique approach to addressing child and youth radicalization in Canada.
The project established partnerships across the country with various municipal and regional Police Departments and civil society organizations, to better respond to and prevent violent groups from targeting vulnerable children and youth in Canada. This ground-breaking work resulted in innovations such as the Hexagon Training Tool, online courses, and training workshops that all combined supports multi-stakeholder approaches to understanding and preventing radicalization leading to violence. The Hexagon tool and training has attracted interest and requests from across Canada and internationally. The Dallaire Initiative is proud of the impact we have had on addressing this complex issue, and we continue to identify opportunities to amplify our impact in this space.
In March 2020, the Molson Foundation generously invested another $100,000 in the Dallaire Initiative for a project called Capacity Building for Preventing the Recruitment and Use of Children in Violent Contexts, which will run for two years, in 2020 and 2021. This project will help strengthen our key collaborations with police services and enhance our impact through this combination of our unique expertise and set of training tools.
(PHOTO) Andrew Molson and General Dallaire
To mark International Women’s Day, on March 8th, The Slaight Family Foundation contributed $15 million to 15 global organizations working to improve human rights for women and girls. We are among 15 organizations that recently received $1,000,000 funding from the Slaight Family Foundation for a project what focuses on helping reduce child soldier recruitment and conflict- based sexual violence and we are the only organization in the East Coast that received this funding.
“The aim of this gift is to improve conditions for women and girls living in difficult circumstances, who represent some of the world’s most vulnerable populations,” said Gary Slaight of The Slaight Family Foundation.
“The projects we are funding will leverage the expertise of these vital organizations to protect women and girls in the most fragile countries from direct harm, rebuild the lives of those who have been unjustly affected by conflict, deprivation and disease and give them the tools and support they need to survive and thrive.”
Thanks to this generous support, the Dallaire Initiative will continue its work in helping to reduce child soldier recruitment and conflict-based sexual violence through capacity building of national military and police forces, with a focus on female force members; enhance the Dallaire Initiative’s cadre of female international trainers and global champions and raise awareness amongst the global community on the critical role of women in preventing the recruitment and use of child soldiers.
See the full funding announcement here.
(PHOTO) Dr. Whitman at the Funding announcement in Toronto
Remote Delivery of Training
Due to the travel and assembly restrictions related to COVID-19, the Dallaire Initiative has come up with a creative approach to our international training. Fortunately, Rwanda already has a robust cadre of Dallaire Initiative trained facilitators on whom we can lean to deliver our training. As this highly skilled and motivated cadre was eager to get started, we only needed to find a way to reinforce and enable their efforts logistically so they could deliver our training packages from start to finish.
Our approach was to leverage technological tools in order to share the most up to date curriculum, briefing packages, and course content with our cadre of Rwandan facilitators. Concurrently, Dallaire Initiative trainers will conduct a series of live, virtual training sessions on what we call ‘Lead Facilitator Training’. This training is not meant to cover the content — as these instructors are already experienced and knowledgeable – but instead the administrative and logistical aspects of running the training, which is normally handled by Dallaire Initiative country office personnel.
We are planning to get these virtual trainings up and running in June 2020.
Rwanda Pre-Deployment and Refresher Trainings – February 2020
Before the office closure in Rwanda due to COVID-19, the team held a Pre-Deployment Training (PDT) from February 10-14, 2020 at the Rwanda Military Academy (RMA) in Gako, Rwanda for the 157 Rwanda Defence Force (RDF) Infantry Battalion deploying to the peacekeeping mission in South Sudan (UNMISS). A Refresher Training was also held from February 6-7, also at RMA Gako. The training was structured with four companies rotating on a two-day training basis in two camps, while a senior class of officers was trained for four days. Officers were given a condensed Dallaire Initiative Basic Course. The training was a mixture of classroom lectures, group/syndicate discussions and tactical scenario interaction exercises, followed by a collective final day of Field Training Exercise (FTX).
In late January 2020, a team from the Dallaire Initiative travelled to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to meet with top government officials: the Ministers of Defense, Interior, Human Rights, Gender and Family, and Youth. While there, the team also met with Members of the Communications Branch of the Forces Armées de la République Démocratique du Congo (FARDC), Centre Supérieur Militaire, Police Nationale Congolaise (PNC), DRC Joint Technical Working Committee on Children and Armed Conflict (CAAC), civil society members, and UN officials (MONUSCO SRSG, Chief IMTC), as well as the Ambassadors of Canada, Switzerland and Belgium. The purpose of the trip was to introduce to various stakeholders the mission, objectives and scope of work of the Dallaire Initiative and advocate for the DRC to endorse the Vancouver Principles (VP).
The outcome of the mission in the DRC was very successful. The DRC government, through its Ministry of Human Rights, expressed in a note verbale its commitment to endorsing the Vancouver Principles. Through various discussions and presentations to high-ranking officials within the security sector, we were also able to establish an agreement for an upcoming collaboration to provide basic training to DRC forces on the prevention of recruitment of use of child as soldiers.
Following discussions with the Training Chief of the Integrated Mission Training Centre (IMTC) in Kinshasa, and the MONUSCO Child Protection Office, the IMTC and the Dallaire Initiative jointly proposed a Child Protection Focal Point Training of Trainer (ToT) Workshop for MONUSCO Military trainers, representatives from IMTC, and the Child Protection Office. The workshop was intended as a full-day familiarization training to showcase key Dallaire Initiative training tools and methods with the intention of opening doors to further training opportunities.
On March 10, 2020, a team of five Dallaire Initiative staff and consultants, representing our Rwanda country office, successfully delivered this training to a mixed class of 13 participants. We very much look forward to building upon this partnership as soon as possible.
(PHOTO) Left to right: Colonel Pierre MAWA, Advisor to the Minister of Defense, George Boyuk, Anthony Di Carlo, Dr. Shelly Whitman, His Excellency Aime Ngoi Mukena, Minister of National Defense and Veterans, Arsene Tshidimu
We are very pleased to announce that in April 2020, Dalhousie University’s Board of Governors officially approved the establishment of the Dallaire Institute for Children, Peace and Security. The Dallaire Initiative hopes to formally announce and celebrate this change in name and status with partners, friends and supporters in Fall 2020.
The newly-established Institute will seek to deepen collaborations with three main faculties at Dalhousie — Arts and Social Sciences, Health and the School of Law — in addition to establishing a Certificate in Children, Peace and Security, a Dalhousie research network and working group, as well as increasing our capacity to conduct guest lectures and partner on research proposals and grants in order to conduct mutually reinforcing, complementary, and groundbreaking research. This work will extend to deepening our connections to post-secondary and research institutions around the world, especially in our countries of operation.
The Dallaire Institute will continue pushing forward with our important work to prevent the recruitment and use of child soldiers through practical, prevention-oriented training with the security sector in numerous countries around the world, from our three locations in Halifax, Juba and Kigali.
(PHOTO) Dr. Shelly Whitman, Executive Director of the Dallaire Institute, provides a lecture on International Humanitarian Law to senior-year law students at the University of Juba (June 2019).
Civil Society Organization workshops in South Sudan
- In September 2019, the Dallaire Initiative collaborated with three community partners in South Sudan to develop curriculum and facilitate workshops: Journalists for Human Rights (JHR), World Vision International (WVI), and SWIGO (Support for Women in Governance). The 3 curriculum packages designed for our joint projects with JHR, WVI and SWIGO were designed with a prevention-oriented and capacity building methodology to enable key stakeholders to be force multipliers in creating awareness about recruitment and use of children as soldiers, as well as increasing skills and strategies to develop protective factors for vulnerable children.
- JHR: The JHR workshop was very successful with 15 journalist participants. The workshop included a 2-day classroom training on ethical human rights reporting, the issue of child soldiering, and how the media can be used as a tool for preventing recruitment. Following the classroom training, the participants conducted a 4-day field mission to Bor with representatives from the Dallaire Initiative and JHR. The result was the production of high quality and professional print, radio, and television features on local experiences with child soldiering. The journalists commented that they were introduced to a plethora of new journalistic practices, and most notably, this was the first time they were made aware of the influence the media can have in preventing the recruitment and use of child soldiers. Following the classroom and field training, many journalists expressed that they felt empowered to continue to use their role as journalists to make a difference on the issue. One participant (September 2019) stated: “The event is so good; we have learned a lot things that will improve lives of children in the country.” The workshop resulted in requests from all 15 participants and their media houses for more resources (technical skills and support) that could assist them in raising community awareness about the prevention of the recruitment and use of children through print, radio and TV programs.
- SWIGO: In partnership with SWIGO, the workshop trained and mentored 15 women leaders from various women-led organizations in South Sudan. Following a 2-day training workshop, the project participants made action plans on facilitating community dialogue or a community-based activity focused on preventing the recruitment and use of child soldiers in South Sudan.
- World Vision: In partnership with WVI, the Dallaire Initiative conducted a joint project that trained and mentored 12 World Vision Child Protection Focal Points who work at WVI’s Yambio Field Office. The aim of the project was to prevent the recruitment and use of child soldiers in Yambio – Gbudue State by further strengthening the capacity of WVI staff to implement a series of prevention-focused, community-based initiatives in line with WVI’s community and systems-based approach to child protection. Following a 2-day training workshop in Juba, and upon their return to Yambio, the participants began implementing community action plans for the coming 6 months that focused on the prevention of recruitment and re-recruitment of child soldiers in the region.
Vancouver Principles Workshop
- On 14 November 2019 the Dallaire Initiative and the Rwanda Defence Force cohosted a workshop that brought together regional countries and partners in Kigali to discuss ways to prevent children from being used as weapons of war. The workshop coincided with the 2nd anniversary of the Vancouver Principles, a Canadian-led initiative which seeks improve child protection standards by nations that contribute troops to UN Peacekeeping missions.
- The workshop theme was, “Honouring two years of the Vancouver Principles on Peacekeeping and the Prevention of the Recruitment and Use of Child Soldiers with a focus on effective implementation.”. The theme was chosen to highlight the VPs in responding to the issue of recruitment and use of child soldiers around the world.
- Rwanda is a founding endorser and the first African country to endorse the Vancouver Principles on Peacekeeping and the Prevention of the Recruitment and Use of Child Soldiers. Rwanda also spearheaded the 2015 Kigali Principles on the Protection of Civilians in UN peacekeeping.
- The workshop aimed to raise awareness of the VPs and provide a platform for stakeholders to agree on a harmonized strategy for the implementation of the VPs. This included building strategies on how to engage those states that haven’t yet endorsed the VPs, share best practices from different countries, and problem-solve anticipated challenges with implementation.
- In addition to high-level representation from across the Rwandan government and UN agencies, the workshop was attended by delegates from nine countries, including Canada, Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and the Democratic, Republic of Congo.
- Launched in February 2019, our Knowledge for Prevention (K4P) project aims to develop predictive models for better estimating numbers of child soldiers, as well as incorporate child-centred indicators within early warning system monitoring of mass atrocities. Through this knowledge development, K4P seeks to improve prevention mechanisms to better protect children in conflict environments.
- In October 2019, the Dallaire Initiative, in partnership with the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) and the University of Oslo, hosted an international symposium for the K4P project. It brought together a diverse group of academics, practitioners, and policy makers with expertise in child soldiering, peacekeeping, genocide forecasting, peace research, and international law to discuss the project’s approach and foster a network of like-minded individuals to improve research, knowledge sharing, and programming related to K4P and the objectives of the Dallaire Initiative.