International Day Against the Use of Child Soldiers
Today is Red Hand Day, an international effort to raise awareness against the use of child soldiers. Hundreds of thousands of handprints are collected in more than 50 countries and handed over to politicians and responsible parties, including UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, in an effort to spur action towards Disarmament, Demobilization, Reintegration of Child Soldiers.National Speakers Bureau’sRoméo Dallaire has been a leading voice on the issue of child soldiers. He founded The Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative on January 1, 2007, with a mission to develop and implement new strategies and tactical guidance to eradicate the use and recruitment of child soldiers around the world. Based at Dalhousie University in Halifax , it is actively involved in training police, military and peacekeepers, and is having success in the areas where child soldiers are fighting. It is also making progress at the United Nations in regards to policies.
The initiative just launched a digital campaign titled #weaponsofwar. This campaign aims at exploring the roles not normally associated with children used as weapons of war: the porter; the spy; the cook; the messenger; and the chai boy. Learn more about the campaign, the roles and to help raise awareness here.
For Human Rights Day this past December, we sat down for a Q&A with Gen. Dallaire, where we asked him how the initiatives efforts have helped prevent children from being recruited into conflict:
“My commitment to eradicating the use of children and youth as being weapons of war has progressed to a point that we are now involved in a number of conflict countries in Africa. We are also going to Columbia, Jordan and we have received both UN approval and NATO doctrine interest. Being able to spend more time with my Dallaire initiative team at Dalhousie has accelerated our ability to provide the training research and for me personally the advocacy of this mission.”
Gen. Dallaire’s efforts were the feature of the 2012 documentary They Fight Like Soldiers, They Die Like Children, based on his book of the same name. The film won the Yorkton Film Festival’s 2013 Documentary POV award, along with a 2013 Film North Golden Antler Viewers Choice Award. Framed through the experiences of Dallaire, former child soldiers are interviewed as are officials working to end the phenomenon. You can view the trailer below, or screen the film in its entirety via TVO here.
Allan Gregg sat down for an in-depth interview with Dallaire to discuss the global quest to eradicate the use of child soldiers. Check out this candid and insightful discussion below:
Learn more about Gen. Dallaire and how he can bring his knowledge and expertise to your next conference or event.