Rwanda is this week hosting a symposium under the Knowledge for Prevention (K4P) project which is under The Dallaire Institute’s African Centre of Excellence that aims at Peacekeeping and the Prevention of the Recruitment and Use of Child Soldiers. The international symposium, which coinciding with the third anniversary of the project, started on Tuesday and will run up to Friday, November 19, bringing together different players to discuss the importance of prioritizing children’s perspectives in global early warning on conflict prevention. Different countries represented in this conference include Rwanda, Cameroon, Ghana, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Canada, Sweden, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. This year’s symposium has brought together a global collective of academics, policymakers, and practitioners to discuss the importance of prioritizing children’s perspectives in global early warning on conflict prevention. With the meeting coinciding with the anniversary of the signing of the Vancouver Principles, discussions will consider how to effectively translate early warning into collaborative and timely action. According to available documents, the symposium will build on discussions stemming from the Vancouver Principles workshop – which was hosted in partnership with the Government of Rwanda in Kigali in November 2019 – and will draw on the foundation of the Kigali Principles in shaping the prevention and early warning fields. In her remarks, Dr. Shelly Whitman, Executive Director for the Dallaire Institute for Children Peace and Security commended the commitment of their partners to fighting this vice. “Your commitment to focus on an issue that is of incredible importance to Africa, but also to the entire world – preventing the recruitment and use of children in violence, gives me hope that a better future is possible for our world,” he said She added that placing children’s rights and their protection at the top of the peace and security agenda means understanding that they will never achieve peace and security without prioritizing the protection of children to break cycles of violence globally. She further urged the participant to fight against this pandemic by the real shift to not just to say “prevention”, but to put it into action. “Over these past 18 months, the world has come together to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. When political will exists, it is possible for us to find solutions.” said Whitman, adding that; “violence is also a pandemic, and much like a disease, we can detect and interrupt conflicts, identify and treat the highest risk individuals, and change practices, behaviors, and eventually social norms” She added that they need tangible approaches that can be implemented incrementally to lead towards their goal of preventing the recruitment and use of children as soldiers and ultimately creating more peaceful societies. She further revealed that in Rwanda, they are implementing an African Centre of Excellence that will be a hub for training, doctrinal excellence, and best practices for the region on preventing the recruitment and use of children. “Let us be courageous, which at the heart of its linguistic origins comes from the French word Coeur, meaning heart, for our children and those generations who will inherit this earth we leave behind,” she said. Rwanda is one of the country’s leading in promoting civilian protection in armed conflict, particularly advocating for responsive prevention initiatives to end the recruitment and use of children as soldiers. During his welcoming remarks on behalf of the RDF Chief of Defence Staff, the Commandant of Rwanda Defence Force Command and Staff College, Brig Gen Didas Ndahiro said that early warning of the recruitment and use of child soldiers remains critical, given the number and intensity of prevailing conflicts. “Today, the vulnerabilities of children extend beyond the traditional battlefield due to transnational criminal networks that target children in many forms such as child labour, sexual exploitation and indoctrination for terrorist groups. Therefore, there is an urgent need for concerted efforts to end the use of children as soldiers and instruments of conflicts,” said Ndahiro. Adding that it is an honor for Rwanda to host the third annual k4P conference. “This undoubtedly demonstrates Rwanda’s commitment to promoting civilian protection in armed conflict as evidenced by establishment and ratification of both Kigali principles in 2015 and Vancouver principals of 2018. “Besides, Rwanda has become a key contributor to peacekeeping dedicating troops and other resources to African Union and United Nations mission areas Where the rights of children are significantly at risks,” said Ndahiro. In his remarks, Ambassador Dr. Thomas Kurz said that his country Germany remains committed to the aim of ending and preventing the recruitment of child soldiers, “As I said we have been partners for some time we are confident that we remain partners in the future, Our policy will not change depending on the fact that we know that we expect a new government in the next couple of days or weeks again thank you very much for having me tonight and I wish you all every success during this symposium,” he said. The Dallaire Institute’s African Centre of Excellence on Children, Peace, and Security is the African hub for promoting and leading efforts to end the recruitment and use of children as soldiers on the continent. Different activities of the initiative have been funded by the Federal Republic of Germany.