Mission and Vision
To progressively eradicate the use of child soldiers through a security sector approach.
The Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative is a global partnership committed to ending the use and recruitment of child soldiers worldwide, through ground-breaking research, advocacy, and security-sector training.
Training: We offer practical, scenario-based training to security sector actors who are likely to encounter children during the course of their operations.
Research: We conduct innovative and rigourous academic research on issues related to children and conflict
Advocacy: We develop partnerships to advocate for policy change and to build the political will to end the recruitment and use of child soldiers
The Dallaire Initiative collaborates with a vast community of experts who review and provide input to the organisation’s training, research and advocacy work. It is through these various collaborations that the Dallaire Initiative ensures sustainable and attainable results.
At present, the Dallaire Initiative’s partners include (but are not limited to):
- The United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR)
- The United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO)
- The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)
- The United Nations SRSG for Children and Armed Conflict
- The African Union
- The Government of Sierra Leone
- The Rwanda Peacekeeping Academy
- The Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict
- Child-to-Child Trust (UK)
- The Children and Youth in Challenging Contexts Network
- 9 Bedford Row International and the 100 Series Rules on the Use of Force
For all press related inquries please contact Josh Boyter, Communications Officer at the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative.
Phone: 902-494-2392 (office) or 902-489-6767 (cell)
When was the Dallaire Initiative created and why did it come into existance?
The organization was founded by LGen Roméo Dallaire (ret’d) in 2007. General Dallaire first experienced the issue of child soldiers as the Force Commander of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda during the 1994 genocide. During this time, General Dallaire realized that he and his troops were ill prepared to face them.
The Dallaire Initiative wants to bring the perspective of the security sector to the issue of child soldiery, while equipping them with the training and tools to prevent the recruitment and use of child soldiers worldwide. Through this we hope to build a more holistic, prevention oriented approach to the issue of child soldiers that compliments current efforts while providing innovative solutions.
What does the Dallaire Inititiave do?
The Dallaire Initiative conducts work on three fronts:
- We conduct innovative and rigourous academic research on issues related to children and conflict;
- We develop partnerships to advocate for policy change and to build the political will to end the recruitment and use of child soldiers;
- We offer practical, scenario-based training to security sector actors who are likely to encounter children during the course of their operations.
How does the Dallaire Initative approach its work?
In focusing solely upon disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) and not upon the complete eradication of the use of child soldiers as a phenomenon, the international community has merely attempted to fix the broken, rather than to protect the whole. Until this issue is elevated within the security agenda, the international community will continue to squander excellent opportunities to prevent the recruitment of children into armed forces and groups.
By framing the issue of children in armed conflict as a specific priority concern for security sector actors, the Dallaire Initiative empowers military, police and prison personnel to develop better policies and strategies to not only limit or prevent child soldier recruitment, but also to improve security sector interactions with children during actual armed conflict, with the ultimate aim of avoiding fatalities on all sides.
While pre-deployment training for military, police and prison officials is improving – particularly with respect to children’s rights and the protection of civilians – very little is currently being done to prepare security sector actors for the possibility of confronting child soldiers before or during active hostilities. This presents security sector actors with a serious dilemma, as they are forced to juggle ethical considerations and their rules of engagement (ROE) with the basic need to protect themselves, their colleagues and affected civilians.
We urge security sector actors to recognise that preparation for interaction with children in armed conflict is as important as preparation for any other aspect of a mission. We also stress that there should be strong coordination and cooperation with agencies that usually bear primary responsibility for children during times of war. Such collaboration enables security sector actors to draw upon the wealth of intelligence that is generated by these civilian organisations and to contribute to the strengthening of child protection in general.
What are some examples of the Dallaire Initiative's advocacy activities?
We develop partnerships to advocate for policy change and to build political will to end the use and recruitment of child soldiers.
In the spring of 2014, the Dallaire Initiative along with our partners at UNITAR and Watchlist, helped shape two important UN Security Council Resolutions (2143 and 2151) to ensure that the protection of children in conf licts is a priority and central to security training and sector reform.
What are some examples of the Dallaire Initaitve's research activities?
The Dallaire Initiative’s research project regularly represents the first attempts to give context and in-depth analysis on issues related to child soldiers and those effecting children and armed conf lict. Our research supports our training and is used as a larger catalyst to inform international discourse and our programs.
The Dallaire Initiative is currently undertaking three research projects. These include:
• The phenomenon of child maritime piracy;
• The recruitment of children as an early warning indicator for mass atrocity;
• Community policing tactics and interactions of police participating in peacekeeping missions in relation to child soldiers
What does the Dallaire Intiative's training for security sector actors consist of?
The Dallaire Initiative’s prevention-oriented, scenario-based training is intended to change the attitudes, behaviours and policies of security forces, thereby empowering them to counteract the problem of child soldiers more effectively. Its practical content focuses upon standard operating procedures for interactions with children during conflict. It also underscores the numerous ways in which security sector actors should collaborate with civilian humanitarians and community leaders, so as to better protect children from initial recruitment.
Where does the Dallaire Initaitive conduct its trainings?
The Dallaire Initiative has trained security sector actors from more than 60 countries worldwide. Many of these trainees have gone on to participate on peacekeeping operations with either the United Nations or the African Union.
Who are the Dallaire Initative's main partners?
What is the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative?
The Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative (the Dallaire Initiative) is a global partnership based at Dalhousie University. Our mission is to progressively eradicate the use and recruitment of child soldiers through a security sector approach.
Why is the Dallaire Initaitive based at Dalhousie University
Dalhousie University is the institutional home for the Dallaire Initiative. As part of Dalhousie University, the Dallaire Initiative is able to draw upon the expertise of a variety of academic disciplines and specialized organizations, including the interdisciplinary institute, Children and Youth in Challenging Contexts.
What is the Dallaire Initiative's International Advisory Committee?
The Dallaire Initiative’ advisory council consists of some of the brightest minds and practioners in the fields of humanitarianism and security. Comprised of two Nobel Peace Laureates, former Canadian prime minister, high level UN staff, diplomats and former Generals our advisory council brings with it unprecedented experience and insight to our work and approach.
What is LGen Roméo Dallaire's Role with the Dallaire Initative?
LGen Roméo Dallaire is the founder of the Dallaire Initiative. General Dallaire brings his extensive experience as a career soldier, humanitarian and former peacekeeper to help guide and inform our security sector first approach.
General Dallaire also plays an important role in elevating the work of the Initiative and participating in our advocacy at the United Nations.
Founder, LGen. Roméo Dallaire (ret’d)
LGen. Roméo Dallaire was first exposed to the use of child soldiers during the 1994 Rwandan genocide (where he served as Force Commander of the UN mission). He subsequently committed the rest of his life to ending the use of children in armed conflict. He founded The Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative, at Dalhousie University, to break new ground in halting this atrocity. The Dallaire Initiative partners with military, police and peacekeeping forces, equipping them with tools to prevent the recruitment of child soldiers.
Executive Director, Dr. Shelly Whitman
Shelly took up the post of Director of the Initiative in January 2010. Prior to this she has had an academic career teaching in International Development Studies and Political Science at Dalhousie University, Saint Mary’s University and the University of Botswana. Her research interests have been broadly focused on issues related to peace, development and human security. More specifically she has conducted research on small arms and light weapons in Southern Africa, gender and conflict, children and conflict, the international criminal court, the Great Lakes region and peace and reconciliation efforts in post-conflict societies.
From 2000-2002, Shelly worked as Head of Research on the inter-Congolese dialogue, under the direction of Former Botswana President, Sir Ketumile Masire. Previous to this post, she was a Research Consultant at UNICEF, NY and worked under the direction of Ambassador Stephen Lewis on the OAU Rwanda Genocide Report. Shelly recently introduced a new course on Children and Armed Conflict at Dalhousie University and took on the additional role of Director of the Child Soldiers Initiative in November 2009.