This volume of Allons-y: Journal of Children, Peace and Security focuses on the implementation of the Vancouver Principles, with each article discussing practical aspects of one of the principles and the current status of research in the area of focus. The contributors are researchers and practitioners in the field of Children, Peace and Security and offer their perspectives on current literature as well as field-based experiences in relation to the goals of the Vancouver Principles. The preface, commentary and six papers in this volume illustrate the complexities of contemporary armed conflict, the increasing and evolving impacts on children, and the importance of prevention.

 

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There has been a great deal of attention placed upon the incidents of piracy that have occurred in the Gulf of Aden in the last two years. It has sparked media and academics to look at the issue from security and economic perspectives.

The original purpose for research in the DRC was to identify tactics utilized by perpetrators who command, recruit, and control child soldiers. The aim was to build a deeper understanding of new approaches towards the eradication of the use of child soldiers.

The nature of conflict has changed since the end of the cold war and so too have the relationships between soldiers and civilians. Civilians are often directly targeted in armed conflicts that are taking place, from Afghanistan to the Democratic Republic of the Congo to Sri Lanka.

 

While it is often stated that women and children are the most vulnerable during armed conflict, the Democratic Republic of the Congo exemplifies the ultimate lack of protection and deliberate targeting of civilians that has come to characterize modern warfare.

Today, it is estimated that 250,000 child soldiers are taking part in armed conflicts around the world.1 In 2009, there were over 50 parties, state and non-state, listed by the Special Representative for the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict for using child soldiers.

In many areas of the world we must recognize that the great majority of the population is below the age of 18 years. There are an estimated 2.2 billion people in the world below the age of 18 years and two billion of these children live in the developing world.

There are a roughly estimated 250,000 children serving as combatants in armed groups worldwide. They are forced to perpetrate horrific violence and subjected to the same. Studies on the impact of the use of children in armed conflict have tended to focus on the demographics, roles and mental health outcomes of this population and programs are centered on rehabilitation.

In May 2012, a workshop entitled “Living Within Armed Groups: A Gendered Perspective” was held at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada. The overall aim of the workshop was to raise awareness of the phenomenon of child soldiery as it pertains to girls and women.

Our 2012 annual report looks at key highlights from the past year and offers unique insight into our ongoing work preventing the use of child soldiers through a security sector approach.