Rwanda: RDF Officers Train On Prevention of Recruitment and Use of Child Soldiers

A two-week course for officers of Rwanda Defence Force (RDF) is set to close Friday, December 18, at the Rwanda Peace Academy (RPA) in Musanze. The training equipped security sector professionals with tools to train their peers in prevention of recruitment and use of child soldiers.

The world-class Training of Trainers course was delivered by the Dallaire Institute for Children, Peace and Security – formerly known as the Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative. It marks a significant milestone in Rwanda’s ability to lead the world in implementing the Vancouver Principles on the Prevention of Recruitment and Use of Child Soldiers and enhanced Rwanda’s capacity to support regional partners by training their own security sector professionals towards the same goal, officials said.

Participating RDF officers received advanced training on the latest pedagogical tools to prepare fellow security sector professionals for engagement with children who are at risk of being recruited and used as soldiers.

Maj. Marcel Mbabazi, the Director of Training at RPA, underlined the importance of the training. The training directly supports the RDF’s overarching strategic goal of advancing peace and security at home and around the world, he said. He pointed out that the course will enhance participants’ capacity to identify and counteract recruitment tactics used by various parties to armed conflict, thereby offering more effective protection to vulnerable children.

The course also helped to strengthen the positive cooperation between the RDF and the Dallaire Institute for Children, Peace and Security, which has established its Africa Centre of Excellence (ACOE) in Rwanda, officials noted.

The ACOE Director reiterated the two partners’ commitment to their collaboration and highlighted the role of the Centre in Rwanda – a first of its kind anywhere in the world.

Reflecting on the training, Lt Col (Rtd) Gatete Karuranga described the cause as unique: “… it is a great asset to us as individual participants because it prepared us as competent interveners to prevent the use of children as weapons of war. Combining our experiences in conflict management and the training acquired, we will be resourceful for both the Institute and the RDF.”

Organisers said the training was a demonstration of what could be achieved through strategic partnerships to advance the cause of peace and security in Africa and around the world. The Institute’s Executive Director thanked the RDF leadership for its continued commitment to supporting this work and for adapting its implementation to the prevailing circumstances caused by Covid-19 pandemic.

The programme is also supported by Rwanda’s international cooperation partners, including the Federal Republic of Germany and global philanthropic partners. Speaking earlier to the officers during the course of the training, a representative of the German Mission to Rwanda reaffirmed the importance of the tripartite relationship. He also hailed the emblematic importance the training provides, noting that it serves as a symbol of the partnership between Rwanda and Germany in common cause to promote peace and protect civilians in armed conflicts around the world.

According to sources, the Dallaire Institute will continue to highlight Rwanda’s experience in equipping security professionals with tools to prevent the recruitment and use of children as soldiers.

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