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Child Soldiers: Whose Responsibility to Protect?

Dr. Carolyn Filteau is Senior Researcher for the Canadian Centre for Men and Families at CAFE.Carolyn has been performing research work for CAFE for the last several months. She has a background in international relations with the UN. Recently she authored a paper on child soldiers entitled Child Soldiers: Whose Responsibility to Protect? The paper was presented at the International Legal Studies conference held at Ryerson University earlier this month. The paper was very well received and the organizer invited Carolyn to be a plenary speaker at next years conference in Singapore. They also asked her to do a three minute video on the conference. The paper is now awaiting publication in their online journal.

Congratulations Carolyn for your efforts to raise awareness of this difficult but important issue! This is the kind of work that makes CAFE proud.

We asked Carolyn to write up a short description of her work, which is as follows:

The paper introduces the importance of the international norm of ‘The Responsibility to Protect’ (R2P) and the relationship it bears to children in war zones and more particularly to the use of child soldiers in the contemporary world’s many conflicts. The author argues that the Responsibility to Protect should be called upon to protect such children before, during and after armed conflict. One of the many illegal acts to which children (mostly boys) fall victim is recruitment by armed forces and armed groups. On the one hand, various conventions have been introduced at the international level that provide different kinds of protection for child soldiers depending on age (i.e., age 15 or 18). On the other hand, in spite of these laws and conventions, Dallaire tells us that the child soldier “has become the weapon of choice in over thirty conflicts around the world, for governments and non-state actors alike.”

In spite of the fact that over 120 countries are state parties to the Rome Statute (the founding treaty of the International Criminal Court (ICC)), the practice of training children to kill and commit war crimes and human atrocities continues in many countries. Thousands of children are still abducted, beaten into submission or join out of feelings of revenge, to escape poverty, or to defend their communities in war zones such as Syria, South Iraq and Yemen.

A UNICEF report on violations suffered by children reports an unprecedented number of children have been “maimed, killed and recruited for combat roles in 2016. Since 2014, warring sides have recruited younger children – some as young as seven. More than half of children recruited in cases verified by UNICEF in 2015 were under 15. In 2010 the greatest area of child soldiers was Africa (around 100,000 children). They were also in Guinea, the Ivory Coast, the Democratic Republic (DR) of Congo, Chad, Sudan, Somalia, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi and Asia, Myanmar, Sri Lanka (Tamil Tigers) Middle East: Israel, the Palestinian Territories and Iraq, Latin America and Colombia. These children are regularly encouraged to commit suicide attacks or are used as human shields.

The study shows that children may or may not become child soldiers of their own free will. In fact, the evidence suggests that children are most often forced or abducted into violent groups seeking their help. And, even if they are considered to be joining on a voluntary basis, the question of what is considered ‘voluntary’ is consistently under debate. Children in combat situations often find themselves without family, without food or shelter, without safety or security or education and see the fighters as a form of security and hope. Once in, they are often subject to numerous forms of abuse and exploitation including beatings, drugs, and sexual assault and are forced to commit heinous crimes for fear of their own lives.

The study looks further into the predicament of the child soldier as refugee and any existing regulations or laws that have been developed to help the child soldier integrate into a new country when returning to their own family and society is not an option. The relevant national and international humanitarian laws are emphasized in a world where the immigration and refugee crisis appears to be hardening prospects of entry for refugees (especially boys) who are, by definition, in extreme difficulty. The author reminds the reader of these children at risk and the efforts that need to be made by the international community to alleviate or prevent their suffering and to reintegrate them into society as contributing members with a legitimate, and safe, status and that they must not be forgotten in the rush to put national security ahead of humanitarian principles or concerns.

Healthy Families Week Photo Round Up

Hi everyone,
During our first annual “Healthy Fathers Make Healthy Families” week, CAFE hosted or participated in seven events in seven days. Below and in a subsequent email are some photos showcasing some of our amazing volunteers hard at work on behalf of a great cause. Enjoy!
A very special thanks to Denise Fong for having taken such spectacular photos.

York Pride Fest

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Healthy Fathers Make Healthy Families – Word on the Street

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Prostate Walk

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Father’s Day Picnic
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Golf Tournament 2017

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First Responder’s Unity Festival (in celebration of Pride)
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CAFE AGM Elects New Board of Directors

CAFE AGM Elects New Board of Directors

Thank you to the nearly 50 people who participated in our Annual General Meeting on June 15, 2017. We want to especially acknowledge all candidates in this year’s election for the Board of directors. The level of participation is testament to the growth of CAFE.

The membership approved an updated and much modernized set of National By-Laws which will support our organization’s growing governance and infrastructure. Click here to read the new CAFE By-Laws

With the passage of these bylaws, henceforth Directors will serve a staggered 2 year term, with 6 out of 12 Director positions elected at each AGM.

Congratulations to our newly elected Board of Directors:

Elected to a 2 year term:
Robert Samery
Paulette MacDonald
David Shackleton
Gayatri Navaratnam
Edward Sullivan
Denise Fong

Elected to a 1 year term:
Paul Sandor
Andrew Tramontin
Mark Austerberry
Kevin Arriola
James Brown
Geoff Stone

Thank you for joining us from all across Canada. We had representation from Vancouver, Montreal, Ottawa, Saskatoon, London, Toronto and points beyond!

See you all again very soon.

Justin Trottier

My Presentation to an All Girls Class

I had a great time last week presenting on men’s issues to a classroom at the Toronto all girls school Madonna Catholic Secondary School.
The invitation came from four students as part of their class project around gender equality. The response was overwhelmingly positive. The questions were intelligent and sympathetic, including queries regarding the biggest issues for which our clients need help, why I joined CAFE and what are our biggest challenges in raising awareness of men’s issues. It was a very positive and engaging experience.
Thank you to the students and teacher in this amazing class!

Get CAFE to the International Shared Parenting Conference 2017!

Help Ensure Full Canadian Participation in the International Shared Parenting Conference 2017!The International Shared Parenting Conference in Boston May 29-30 is shaping up to be a landmark event, bringing together most of the world’s leading researchers focused on improving the welfare of children in separated and divorced families.

Father involvement is a key area of CAFE’s mandate and the reason many of you joined the organization. Whether advancing policy reform to make our family justice system just, or increasing our legal and support services to alienated fathers and children, we would gain tremendously through our participation in this conference.

Here’s the good news. CAFE Board members Paulette MacDonald and Robert Samery are leading Canadian authorities on parental alienation and veterans of equal parenting policy reform. They’re lining up critical meetings with experts from around the world at the Boston Conference.

Now we need you to help get them there.

Click here to make a special one-time donation so CAFE can participate in this once in a lifetime opportunity!

A Message from Paulette MacDonald

As a member of the Board of Directors of the Canadian Association for Equality (CAFE) and former Co-President of the Canadian Equal Parenting Council (CEPC), I can’t tell you how excited I am at the prospect of attending the International Shared Parenting Conference 2017 in Boston.

Having said that, I need your help to make this happen. Pease support my trip to this great event so that I can continue my advocacy work in pursuing family law reforms in the best interest of the children in Canada.

There is now intense interest in the apparently powerful effects of family structure on children’s outcomes. This timely conference will explore 40 years of research on how children fare in different post-divorce parenting arrangements.

Research suggests that fully half of troubled children and adolescents derive from conflicted, separated and divorced families. The conference offers the rare opportunity to interact with leading legal and mental health scholars from around the world on this important topic. The program will include plenary sessions, panel discussions, question and answer sessions, and break-out workshops.

Given the high prevalence of conflicted, separated and divorced families, this conference will be of great benefit to all varieties of child and family practitioners and scholars, including any who deal with family policy, family law, psychology, child mental and physical health, alienation, domestic violence or family dynamics.

Please help CAFE take full advantage of this unique opportunity to learn from so many distinguished scholars from Australia to Europe to North America, any of whom would qualify as a keynote speaker, all at one conference.