As the world comes together to mark the Day of the African Child (DAC) on June 16, the Romeo Dallaire Institute for Children, Peace and Security (Dallaire Institute) and the Giants of Africa (GOA) have reiterated the urgent need to do more to support children on the continent by putting their rights at the centre of the peace and human security agenda.
These two international organizations work closely with the Government of Rwanda to promote the wellbeing of children here at home and around the world.
In a special message for this occasion, these two organizations’ leaders conveyed hope and solidarity with millions across this continent who are confronting the great disruption caused by the ongoing corona virus pandemic.
Masai Ujiri, Co-founder of GOA and President/General Manager of the Toronto Raptors basketball team, underscored the protection of children in Africa as essential to building a prosperous and safer future.
“By prioritizing the needs of children, together we can build a strong foundation for an Africa, and a world, that is fit for future generations,” he says, emphasizing that “a strong and united Africa requires a clear policy focus to promote the African Child.”
Rtd. Gen. Romeo Dallaire, founder of the Dallaire Institute, points out that because Africa possesses the world’s youngest population it has the potential to lead the world and to change the course of humanity.
“The COVID -19 pandemic has taught us that the new normal needs to recognize we can no longer ignore the most vulnerable, nor the power they potentially possess,” he adds.
The Dallaire Institute (formerly known as the Romeo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative) is the parent body of the newly minted African Centre of Excellence for Children, Peace and Security established in Rwanda to pioneer a pan-African approach to child protection and the prevention of the use of children in armed conflict.
With significant support from the German government and philanthropic actors such as Intact Foundation, the Centre is the first of its kind in Africa.
It builds on a longstanding collaboration with the Rwandan Defense Forces (RDF) on the prevention of child soldiers and the implementation of the Vancouver Principles, of which Rwanda has been a leading proponent.
A partnership with the Rwandan National Police extends the Centre’s reach.
The Centre is conducting innovative research, training peacekeepers, and advancing policy changes to peacekeeping in Africa and around the world. The Centre’s presence in Rwanda is further a testament to this country’s leadership in promoting peace and security on the global stage.
According to Dr. Shelly Whitman, Executive Director of the Dallaire Institute, prioritising child protection can help achieve innovation and accountable societies and break cycles of generational violence.
“The time is now to dream big and to place children’s rights at the top of the peace and security agenda,” she says.
The Dallaire Institute partnership with the Giants of Africa serves to build further resilience among the African youth, working for a future that isn’t defined by conflict.
The Day of the African Child has been celebrated on June 16 every year since 1991, when it was initiated by the Organisation of African Unity, now the African Union.
To celebrate the children of Africa and call for serious introspection and commitment to addressing the numerous challenges they face, the DAC 2020 theme’s is access to child-friendly justice, as adopted by the African Union Executive Council, during its 34th Ordinary Session, held on February 7-8, 2019.
Due to the current Covid-19 crisis, the commemoration of the event at the continental level will be done through a Webinar.
Rwanda has already demonstrated its leadership and commitment to protecting children.
Rwanda is the first country on the continent to endorse the 2017 Vancouver principles, which prioritize and further operationalize child protection within UN peacekeeping operations, with a focus on tackling the recruitment and use of child soldiers.
On the continent, it is the second-largest troop and police contributing country to United Nations and African Union peace operations. Rwanda is also the top contributor of women peace keeping operations around the world.
Together, on this International Day of the African Child, these organizations “join together in solidarity for a better Africa.”Follow https://twitter.com/Julio_Bizimungu