26 June 2013, New York, USA – UNITAR’s Peacekeeping Training Programme participated in a working group discussion on “Peacekeepers and Child Soldiers,” held by the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative and the Permanent Mission of Canada to the United Nations. The special focus of this encounter was on capacity building through training and the development of core competencies for preventing the use of child soldiers.

The working group discussion brought together experts on the design and development of training for military and police audiences as well as experts on child protection and representatives of supporting countries. It was to this audience that UNITAR presented the test version of an e-Learning course on “Child Soldiers and Security Forces.” The course aims at training military and police personnel eager to serve in peace operations. Military and police personnel involved in peace operations in conflict zones are often placed on the front lines dealing with child soldiers, with little, if any, training or preparation on what to expect or how to deal with children being abusively used as soldiers. Yet, the military and police are usually the first point of contact with child soldiers and have an important role to play in preventing their recruitment and use. The objective of this course is to advance a better understanding of the phenomenon of child soldiering and to give basic operational guidance for field personnel.

The presentation of the e-Learning course was part of a broader discussion on the role of peacekeepers in preventing and addressing the use of children as soldiers in armed conflicts and post-conflict settings. The Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative developed a set of “core competencies” which aim to provide an overall framework to guide the design and development of training on child soldiers for security sector actors.

UNITAR’s Peacekeeping Training Programme and the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative will further build on this fruitful collaboration to continue working on this important topic.