Mr. Chair, ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much.
If you offer the floor to a retired general who was also an apprentice politician in the Senate for 10 years, you may risk having a problem of maintaining good order and discipline in timing. However, because brevity is not my strength, I have tried to discipline myself this morning to touch on a number of points in regard to current and future peacekeeping.
Dr. Whitman, when she arrives, will be touching very much on a dimension of the peacekeeping of the new era, which is the operational threat of the use of children as weapons of war—which is child soldiers—the Vancouver principles and how we see that evolving as one of the instruments of security sector reform, and the improvements of new capabilities for peacekeeping in which the Canadians are leading. We helped them write their new doctrine and helped them write their new training directive. We hope that they will gain more depth as we prepare for tasks overseas.
Let me commence by saying that I've had an opportunity to listen to all you ladies and gentlemen for hours with previous witnesses. A couple of times, I would have loved to be there myself, sitting in your seats to ask a few questions. I am honoured to be able, I hope, to respond today.
I will be disciplined and try to speak in French all the same. We spend so much time speaking English in our Canadian Forces career in Ottawa that assimilation is a danger. Too often, we forget to use our mother tongue.
Ladies and gentlemen, 25 years ago tomorrow, I was deploying into Kampala and then into Mbarara, Uganda, to take command of one of the two missions I commanded. This was the mission on the Ugandan side of the border with Rwanda to prevent the trafficking and the use of trails and so on to move weapons into the rebel area. Then a couple of weeks later, I moved into Rwanda to take command of that mission. In that case, I took it from the African Union who had an embryo of peacekeeping. They only had about 60 members there, and I absorbed that group.
I took command the day after the coup d'état in Burundi, so although I had planned for a secure southern flank in order to handle the peace process that really involved the Rwandan Patriotic Front coming from the north into the south, I ended up with more than 300,000 refugees overnight, a source of enormous recruitment for youths, particularly, to sustain covert operations, and well over 50,000 bodies in every one of the rivers, lakes and areas of wooded enclaves where they were hiding the bodies. They had a slow-moving genocide there because the ethnic groups in both countries are exactly the same and the frictions are quite similar.
I overheard that one should be leery of those who have served in the 1990s because maybe they're still caught up in a bit of old think, and I'll talk about that. I want to set up a bit of my field credentials and what we were doing, so that I can give you a backdrop to what I am proposing.
It's true that my last operational command of a mission was in Rwanda for a whole year and was through that civil war and that genocide. Subsequent to that, I've been a member of the Secretary-General of the UN's genocide prevention advisory group made up of Gareth Evans, Desmond Tutu and people of that nature, where we're looking at how to get in very early to prevent genocide from happening, and mass atrocities.
That's a new word still in the UN: prevention. Too much is still going into how we sort out a problem that's already blown apart or we wait until it's over and then throw some cash at it.
Prevention is the solution, but it is by far the hardest one to commit yourself to. If you're successful, people will say, why did you go in? If you're not, then people will maybe blame you for the thing going wrong. It's a high political risk, and that's why we see an enormous reticence on the political side of the House to actually take offensive actions. Even if there is a mandate, there's still a significant amount of hesitancy to take actions early on and deliberately enough.
From 2000-04, I worked for the minister of CIDA on the protection of war-affected children. We had a big international conference in 2000 led by Lloyd Axworthy and Maria Minna. The conference took place in Winnipeg and 135 countries signed on to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the optional protocol. It was from there, where I presented a paper, that I became Ms. Minna's special adviser for four years. I did that part time and was involved in the Sierra Leone war, which was totally fought on both sides by child soldiers. At the time, I was involved in extracting children from the conflict and trying to minimize their recruitment.
Then I went for a year to Harvard, where I did my initial research on child soldiers. I did it under the construct of what I'm calling “an era of conflict resolution and conflict prevention”. I am not one to use peacekeeping or peace support operations very much. I consider that we are caught in an era where it's not peace and it's not war but it's a spectrum, a whole variety of commitments and tasks, all of which focus on either preventing the frictions that lead to conflict or on the actual conflict. In so doing, there is a far more sophisticated requirement than peacekeeping, particularly if you're still in a chapter VI frame of mind, in “old think”.
As for my work since, while I was in the Senate for 10 years, I had the pleasure of working on the defence committee there. I resigned to devote myself fully to work on child soldiers, the aim being to eradicate the use of that weapon's platform, which you find in every conflict in the world. They're being used everywhere, be it in Ukraine, be it in Mali, be it in South Sudan. We are already deployed in Somalia. My aim is to eliminate that weapon system from the inventory of conflict as it is a crime against humanity. I hope we will succeed.
In the process, I have written three books to reinforce my position. The first one was at the operational level. If you remember, there's strategic, operational and tactical levels. The operational is a theatre commander, so I was commanding the theatre of southern Uganda and Rwanda. I was even at one point given the task of looking into Burundi. That was my first book.
The second one was at the tactical level, so that was how the troops face threats and how they respond to them in an era where threats do in fact exist because conflicts are not necessarily resolved and we are there to assist in the resolution thereof.
The last book was on the individual, on how to live with 20 years of PTSD, of which one not insignificant portion was the fact of facing child soldiers in Rwanda who did the massive slaughtering. The vast majority were under 18 and they were led by some adults to slaughter 800,000. Both sides used them, in one case to slaughter and in the other to fight in that conflict. At the time, I didn't recognize the significance of their being young. It was only afterwards that I started to realize that they sustained their war and the mobilization to war through the use of children.
I'm now—and I'll finish with this part—writing a fourth book, at the strategic level. I'm arguing, ladies and gentlemen—and I hope it gives you a bit of a backdrop—that we stumbled into the nineties after the Cold War ended. We didn't know what we were doing. When I came out of my brigade, I sent battalions into Yugoslavia hoping that the training we had might meet the requirement. We had no experience. We had nothing written on what we would be facing in the nineties.
In stumbling through that, and subsequently in my research and work, I believe we've entered an era where we need a new conceptual framework, a new conceptual base to conflict prevention. The old theory of war that we had was Clausewitzian, and it was very force on force, with the classic use of military forces. That has disappeared. We're into an era where in fact the civilian population is just as much the victims, as they can be also the targets, as they can be also the perpetrators.
In this era, we can't keep using old tools. We can't keep using NGO neutrality. We can't keep using diplomacy independent from the interfacing with the security forces. We are in dire need of conflict prevention by multidisciplinary leaders who master the various disciplines that are needed to deploy in the field.
With that as a backdrop, I should like to indicate to you that three weeks into the genocide in 1994, I was still arguing with the UN as to whether or not, as a chapter VI mission, I was allowed to protect civilians. I had 32,000 under protection, but in New York, the concept was unacceptable by chapter VI missions....
Dr. Shelly Whitman is here now.
Now, the essence is the protection of civilians because we're into civil wars. We are into civil conflicts. The civilians are the prize as much as they are the victims. As such, they are a central point of all the operational considerations. They are a core element in these conflicts.
Negating that impact by simply looking at forces being deployed and looking at the higher level of pure political structures and power sharing without considering the depth of impact on civilians, the refugee camps, the internally displaced camps, and the impacts of ethnicity, tribalism, and religious reasons for the conflicts, you are not going to have an answer to the problem, and you're going to be there for decades.
If we do go into missions and think we're just going in there for a short while, it won't work. These are grounded elements that have created the friction and have potentially exploded. We need a multidisciplinary capability.
Canada has been engaged. We were engaged at the time, not only in the Yugoslavian campaign, which we did extensively, but also in a number of all the other missions. Until 1996, we were in every mission that existed. We supported the Brahimi reform. The “Brahimi Report”, which is a reform of peacekeeping, was a very tactical piece of work. It didn't look at the strategic construct of peacekeeping. It looked at how we make peacekeeping work better in the field, how it could talk better with the headquarters, and how the headquarters could talk better with it.
I could not talk to another mission that was next door, nor could we exchange material or anything. It was totally separate. Command and control now is better, but it is still locked in with SOFAs, MOUs, and of course, mandates that often create barriers for missions to reinforce each other.
We were very instrumental in moving the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, in 2000. It's a great deterrent for us to be able to move into the field, having that hammer behind us to say that they are criminals. They are committing crimes against humanity and can be held accountable for using children or using rape. Rape is considered torture, and torture is considered a crime against humanity by the International Criminal Court.
In stumbling through this era and trying to figure out what to do, one real, bright light came up very strongly. That was “responsibility to protect”, which Canada lead quite extensively through Gareth Evans, Michael Ignatieff, and others, and produced the “responsibility to protect” concept, which was tabled in September 2005 by Paul Martin. In that, it makes it clear that sovereignty is no more an absolute. You can't hide behind sovereignty if you are massively abusing the human rights of your people or if you can't stop it. It also calls upon the international community and sovereign states to go in and intervene.
The positive of that concept has been held back by the fear of engaging, the fear of intervention. The fear of intervention has been more a matter of politics than statesmanship. That is to say, “What is the political gain? How much am I going to be risking?” and by nations, “What is the risk of casualties? What's in it for us in self-interest?” It has been emasculated from being able to be fully implemented.
In Libya they attempted it without ever using it. The Canadians commanded the force there, but it was misconstrued by the Chinese and the Russians as regime change. It only ended up that way because the UN Security Council has no command and control capability, and NATO ran amok.
There's been a study by General dos Santos Cruz on the protection of peacekeepers. I recommend that study. It's a very strong study on trying to ensure that peacekeepers can be effective as they are being deployed.
The era of chapter VI-style peacekeeping is over. The United Nations and the troop police contributing nations and countries, by and large, are still gripped with some chapter VI syndrome. I would say that if you are talking about risk aversion to casualties then you are in another era. We are no longer there. We are in chapter VII. We are sending forces that must be capable and must be credible in order, in extremis, to have to use kinetic force to establish an atmosphere of peace and to permit the other elements to be able to function.
I've only started, but thank you very much.
I will now introduce Dr. Whitman, who will follow on with the innovative dimensions of our commitments into this arena that I think are essential.
Let me apologize for being late. We'll talk about Air Canada later on.
I'm grateful to be here and that General Dallaire is giving me the opportunity to share the floor with him to speak to you about an issue that I believe is incredibly important in how we look at not only peacekeeping but how we address conflict around the world.
At this particular moment in history, we have to understand that the types of conflicts we would be entering into in any peacekeeping mission have changed. We recognize that this means understanding that if, in the past, children were made to fight in spite of their youth, they are now being made to fight because of their youth.
The employment or the recruitment and use of children as soldiers is not a sidebar issue for us to discuss. It should be central to looking at any of the particular missions we may be a part of or any conflict that is ongoing.
Currently there are more than 250 million children impacted by armed conflict globally. Seven state armies continue to use and recruit children, and 56 non-state armed actors recruit and use children around the world. This is an issue that isn't just for us to be concerned about on an international scale. It also has implications on a domestic level. What I am about to talk to you about is the fact that this requires us to continue to understand this issue from some new perspectives and dynamics rather from than those you may traditionally be accustomed to thinking of.
The use and recruitment of child soldiers is a strategic security concern. It is a human rights issue and it is an issue related to the protection of civilians, but it goes beyond that. The purposeful recruitment and use of children as soldiers is something we have to understand in terms of its being used for the sustainment and fuelling of particular armed groups around the world.
It can have an impact on our own troops' morale and effectiveness. It can have huge impacts on post-traumatic stress. We also need to understand that the use and recruitment of child soldiers is an early warning indicator for mass atrocities and genocide prevention, something that I know General Dallaire can speak to personally.
We also have to understand that there are non-kinetic means to reduce that use of children as soldiers by setting conditions that we have yet to explore fully and should be looking at in terms of our own preparation for troops and for those around the world.
In terms of Canada's contribution and our history, we have a long and proud history of peacekeeping, which has a deep connection to the very values Canadians believe in. We also need to understand that Canada has an opportunity to be a leader, to re-engage in peace operations by making children a priority and leading by example. Protecting children is a value we can all be proud of as Canadians, no matter what side of the political divide we sit on.
Canada's contribution to peacekeeping has to be viewed as more than just about the contribution of battalions or troops. It has to also be seen in terms of key developments that Canada has been at the forefront of over the past year such as the Vancouver principles on peacekeeping and the prevention of the recruitment and use of child soldiers. We worked collaboratively with the Government of Canada last year to create this new and innovative set of principles. At the time, no one had any inclination that within a year we would have 66 endorsing nations from the United Nations.
The potential training role here for the Canadian Armed Forces and the RCMP, as well as engagement from a civil society perspective, needs to be understood, and setting standards for peacekeeping cannot only improve the UN's effectiveness, but also help to address a major human rights atrocity that is currently contributing to cycles of violence around the globe.
We have to have the ability to build partnerships, and in taking this particular dynamic forward, dialogue in intractable contexts can also be something that we are a part of, if we put the rights of children and the prevention of their recruitment and use up front. It can help to cement our place globally and reinforce our Canadian defence policy of a strong, secure and engaged Canada.
What we have witnessed in the past is that there have been a lot of efforts on international law and a lot of efforts that focus on “after the fact” when we have demobilization, disarmament and reintegration efforts of children. There are a lot of child protection agencies that exist, but what we have failed to do globally is to look at children and their vulnerabilities and to see their being used or recruited as an operational concern that we have to be adequately prepared for.
The United Nations has two key Security Council resolutions that you should be aware of: Resolution 2143, from 2014; and Resolution 2151, also from 2014. We at the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative worked closely with Luxembourg at that time to help draft Resolution 2143. The resolution looks at undertaking “targeted and operational trainings for the preparation of [all] UN mission personnel” to more “effectively recognize, report and respond to violations and abuses committed against children”.
Resolution 2151 focuses on the fact that preparation and training of this nature is also critical for key “security sector reform”. That means when Canada is working with any bilateral groups or conducting any training of troops abroad, it must also understand that training of this nature is critical for the accomplishment of those goals.
The Vancouver principles I would like to highlight have four key elements that are critical and new to this area for the preparation of peacekeepers, with the first one being the need for operational planning. That's not just tactical approaches, but how we can change the composition of missions, training, the types of materiel we may need, etc. The next element would be the fact that it focuses on prevention and early warning to act on credible information and to use the protection of children as a key element for why we would want to intervene.
The next would be looking at increasing the numbers of women who are in peacekeeping missions, as they bring critical skills and abilities that also can augment our efforts to better protect and prevent the use and recruitment of children. The last would be to focus on mental resiliency and PTSD and how our lack of preparation on this front means that we continually bring back troops who are also going to suffer and who will have impacts on their families when they come back home.
I would also want to focus on the fact that the Department of National Defence also has launched the Elsie initiative, which is a credible and important initiative. What is important here is to recognize that focusing on children also means that you are focusing on women and girls, on including more women in peacekeeping, as I mentioned, and on the fact that we are talking about boys and girls being recruited and used as child soldiers.
We are also talking about the fact that preventing the recruitment and use of children will help to reduce conflict-related sexual violence, as many of these young boys and girls not only are victims of the sexual violence but are forced to commit such violence. If this is how they are taught about relationships and sexual violence at a young age, you can imagine that it creates a cycle that is very negative for long-term impacts.
I would also like to comment on early warning indicator elements. All efforts at the United Nations to focus on prevention of the recruitment and use of child soldiers, as well as looking at preventing mass atrocities or genocide, have failed to connect these two elements. Our failure to do so has meant that we have missed tangible opportunities to find ways to try to create the prevention of conflict by understanding that there's a moment there for us to recognize these two elements and to provide tangible solutions.
There are a last few points I would make.
In terms of the Vancouver principles, the Canadian government, the Canadian Armed Forces, the RCMP and Global Affairs all have to go beyond the endorsements. Canada must be committed not only to increasing the number of endorsing nations, but it must create implementation that is strategic in its approach and guidance to complement the Vancouver principles.
Most important is for Canada to be committed to ensuring that the Vancouver principles and the implementation guidance are put into action. This requires support from subject matter experts to work alongside the Canadian Armed Forces as well as the RCMP.
It requires what we call “strategic complementarity”, to build training and lessons learned cells. It requires full implementation, by the CAF and the RCMP, of new training approaches in line with the Vancouver principles; a commitment to the potential creation of a centre of excellence, for example, for the Vancouver principles; and establishing Canada as a world leader so that understanding the prevention of the recruitment and use of child soldiers is an entry point for a new agenda, an agenda that focuses on children, peace and security.
It requires partnerships with endorsing nations to build regional training expertise, bilateral exchanges between endorsing nations that have experiential knowledge on the issues we are discussing, and promotion of best practices that provide incentives for nations to demonstrate such practices. It also requires advocacy and support for the UN children and armed conflict agenda, but support that demands clear indicators of practical implementation of tangible change for prevention.
Lastly, it requires serious and long-term funding and must be understood as beneficial not just to peacekeeping but to the future of humanity. It is critically important to understand that as long as we continue to see intractable conflicts around the world that continue to recruit and use children, we will also face those repercussions here at home, whether it's through immigrants, refugees or other dynamics that will be impacted, such as international crime rings.
I thank you for your time.
One critical thing is that we have to be able to recognize those areas and moments when we could do more effective prevention techniques, because we don't do that enough.
General Dallaire made the example of Boko Haram and the Nigerian Armed Forces. All of you will have known about the Chibok girls who were taken a few years ago from that school. That is a perfect example. If priority and training had been given, that school could have been protected because they had some forewarning that they were going to be attacked. Waiting until after the fact to try to counter that has proven to be ineffective for a number of reasons.
From our perspective, it's making sure there is adequate training that is practical in its approach, meaning scenario-based. It isn't just a legal lecture that is given, or a set of PowerPoints, as we often see. It's really working through a set of scenarios with real-life examples. It's understanding that it's not prescriptive, that it will change. What we want is for soldiers to be able to think through these dynamics before they face them. Not walking through those issues before you face them will result in a reaction from the portion of your brain that just deals with emotion, versus the rational portion of your brain. We want rational approaches. We are also told you have to practise something at least seven times before you face it in the field.
Currently, some of the approaches that have been taking place in terms of preparation for this issue have been far from adequate in terms of the standard. That was certainly our desire with the Vancouver principles, to increase that standard to make it a priority and not just another issue to be aware of in terms of the realm of human rights.
The last point I would make here is that it's also incredibly important that the training you conduct on this matter has an impact not just in the brain but also in terms of the way people think, which genuinely changes the way they perceive the conflict, the way they see children, and that they recognize some of those intelligence dynamics that otherwise they would not pay attention to.
It's set within the context of a multi-faceted, multidisciplinary solution to a state that is nearly stateless. How do you establish a reasonable framework, from a peace agreement that is flawed, in order to protect the civilians and bring in capacity to build that nation's ability to take on its own future?
We're just part of a long-term exercise. Going into these countries where so much has been destroyed and so on, you're into that for years and years, if not decades, so you can't assess the effectiveness of a peacekeeping mission or a mission from the UN from a short-term four-year span of your being in power, or months. It has to be looked at as a long-term investment in how we engage in that endeavour.
Mali is a good training ground. It seems we're going to disagree because I would say that 50% of the Canadian population still doesn't think that Mali is a worthwhile exercise. There are two reasons for that, I believe. One is that people don't think it's in our self-interest. There isn't a conflict in the world that's not going to affect us. With large-scale refugee campaigns and internally displaced camps, they're going to have pandemics. The rage and the extremism, and ultimately, terrorism that come out of those camps is going to spread. The diasporas are going to be affected in our country. Remember the Tamil in Toronto when they didn't like what we did? They got caught up in the maelstrom of that. Every conflict has an impact on our self-interests, strategically. That's the first thing.
The second thing is that people still fear casualties. Even though we were magnificent in handling the casualties of Afghanistan in that overt exercise, peacekeeping is still thought of as something from which we'll all come back safely, and it's because people want us there. It's not necessarily so, depending on the mandate. Yes, there are risks, but that is our era. That's why I argue that I think the people are still thinking of another era, when in fact ultimately the belligerents really had resolutions, while we now see belligerents still trying to figure out what the resolution might be.
How many fights have continued since the catastrophic failure of Mali to kill civilians by the villageful? How many slaughters have been continuing to go on? What's the scale of destruction of the human beings? How many more refugees and internally displaced are being moved around because of this scenario?
My argument to this, Madam, is that anybody who looks at a mission, even with a flawed mandate, and doesn't see the possibility of amending the mandate, of working on a peace process....
We're working on the peace process in South Sudan right now, which has some significant problems on a significant scale. You cannot look short term at peace support or conflict resolution. The short term will often give you some bad feelings and some risk that you would prefer not to have, but it is the sustainment of an effort, the commitment by the international community, and in particular, by northern countries.
We abdicated on peacekeeping with the end of the Cold War and left developing countries with no capability, no equipment, to take on all this peacekeeping. We walked away from it. We even walked away from our rapid-reaction capability that we presented in 1995 as a solution. We walked away from SHIRBRIG, which we even commanded. We let them do it, and now we're saying they're not doing it right, it's weak, and so on.
What I would argue is that it is high time we return in a variety of very capable scenarios, not by deploying massive numbers of troops but by providing far more aware, intellectually based capabilities, with soldiers who are credible, with diplomats who can work with soldiers and with humanitarians.
I was on a committee and I had General Petraeus tell me that in Afghanistan he never talked to an NGO, because they didn't want to talk to him. There were 7,000 NGOs out there. Imagine all the information he could have gotten. That type of stuff has to stop and we have to bring in new capabilities. Generals who will sit here and tell you that the only solution to these things is to fight are generals of another era.
The Canadian Army holds an annual meeting with its generals about training. Two or three years ago, there was a meeting at the University of New Brunswick, and Ms. Whitman was invited to the symposium on content. She described the program we offer, and the generals in attendance wanted to know more about it. So we were invited to the Canadian Army Doctrine and Training Centre in Kingston.
We held a preparatory meeting. It was with them that we began the procedures. The Peace Support Training Centre was also in attendance, and it was part of the same structure. The former commander was my executive assistant and he was also present.
We explained to them what we were in the process of doing. The generals were engaged in the subject. We informed the chief of National Defence, the Armed Forces Council and all the senior authorities. We held a preparatory meeting with all those people present. That is when we began the new doctrine, with General Vance. They asked us to help them write it. The training directive is part of the training program they now use.
What they had to do, in Edmonton, was not training. Rather, they had to produce a training directive so they could then deduce the training content.
Giving Power Point presentations in front of 250 people for an hour or two is not training, but it leads to training.
Representatives of the Peace Support Training Centre came to see our training. Every summer, we train veterans. Our trainers are Canadian veterans. For one month, they are trained at the university, at our institute, to prepare them to give training overseas and to take part in various content development processes.