The Vancouver Principles


In November 2017, Canada launched The Vancouver Principles on Peacekeeping and the Prevention of the Recruitment and Use of Child Soldiers at the UN Peacekeeping Defence Ministerial conference in Vancouver, British Columbia.

The Vancouver Principles are a set of political commitments focused on child protection in peacekeeping, including all stages of a conflict cycle. They comprise 17 principles that focus on preventing the recruitment and use of child soldiers by armed forces and armed groups.

Preventing the recruitment and use of child soldiers is critical to achieving overall UN peacekeeping mission success and to setting the conditions for lasting peace and security.

“The use of child soldiers has no place in our world... By bringing countries together, and putting the Vancouver Principles into action, we can make sure children remain children, and build a safer, more just future for all.”

- Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada

Endorsing the Vancouver Principles

In 2017, 54 UN Member States were founding endorsers of the Vancouver Principles. The number of endorsing countries is now close to 100.

By endorsing the Vancouver Principles, Member States acknowledge the unique challenges posed by child soldiers, and commit to prioritizing the prevention of the recruitment and use of child soldiers in UN peacekeeping operations and to helping ensure that all peacekeepers—military, police, and civilian—are prepared and directed to take appropriate action.

Any UN Member State can endorse the Vancouver Principles, even if they do not contribute personnel to UN missions.

Implementation Guidance for the Vancouver Principles

Political endorsement of the Vancouver Principles is not enough to ensure change: their true impact will be achieved when they are implemented by UN Member States.

The Implementation Guidance for the Vancouver Principles offers a common basis to develop or amend policies, doctrine, training and education on child soldiers in the context of UN peace operations.

For each principle, the guidance provides background and explains how UN Member States’ military, policy and civilians who operate under a UN mandate, can contribute to the principle’s implementation. Where possible, concrete examples are provided along with useful references to available and authoritative resources.

The implementation guidance was created through a collaborative process. In February 2019, all endorsing Member States were invited to participate in a review workshop, which provided a platform to receive their input, as well as from the UN and child-protection actors. On June 25, 2019, Canada launched the Implementation Guidance for the Vancouver Principles online and in print.

“Recognizing the tragic fate suffered by children in armed conflict around the world, I want to thank all of the individuals, organizations and Member States that contributed to the development of the Implementation Guidance for the Vancouver Principles. This practical resource will have real-world impacts and help to protect children.”

- Hon. Harjit Sajjan, Minister of National Defence

Working together to protect children

The recruitment and use of children is one of the six grave violations against children during armed conflict. Every year, tens of thousands of children—both girls and boys—are used by armed forces and armed groups in a variety of roles such as fighters, cooks, porters, messengers and spies—and for sexual purposes.

More than half of current UN peacekeeping operations take place in countries where child soldiers are used. For peacekeepers, the presence of children in armed forces and armed groups presents immediate and complex political, tactical and operational challenges. The psychological effects of encountering child soldiers can be severe and may affect peacekeepers long after they have returned home.

Canada developed the Vancouver Principles in partnership with the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative and in consultation with the UN, child protection actors and key UN Member States. The following partners helped develop the Implementation Guidance for the Vancouver Principles:

UN Member States that have endorsed the Vancouver Principles

Founding endorsers (As of October 1, 2019)

  1. Argentina
  2. Armenia
  3. Australia
  4. Austria
  5. Bangladesh
  6. Belgium
  7. Bosnia and Herzegovina
  8. Brazil
  9. Cambodia
  10. Canada
  11. Chile
  12. Colombia
  13. Croatia
  14. Czech Republic
  15. Denmark
  16. Dominican Republic
  17. Ecuador
  18. Estonia
  19. Fiji
  20. Finland
  21. France
  22. Germany
  23. Greece
  24. Guatemala
  25. Hungary
  26. Ireland
  27. Israel
  28. Italy
  29. Jordan
  30. Latvia
  31. Lithuania
  32. Luxembourg
  33. Malaysia
  34. Mexico
  35. Montenegro
  36. Nauru
  37. Norway
  38. Poland
  39. Portugal
  40. Romania
  41. Rwanda
  42. Serbia
  43. Sierra Leone
  44. Slovakia
  45. Slovenia
  46. South Korea
  47. Spain
  48. Sri Lanka
  49. Sweden
  50. Tanzania
  51. The Netherlands
  52. Uganda
  53. Ukraine
  54. United KingdomFootnote 1
  55. Uruguay
  56. Vietnam

Additional endorsers

  1. Albania
  2. Andorra
  3. Belarus
  4. Bulgaria
  5. Burkina Faso
  6. Cameroon
  7. Central African Republic
  8. Chad
  9. Costa Rica
  10. Côte d’Ivoire
  11. El Salvador
  12. Gabon
  13. Georgia
  14. Honduras
  15. Iceland
  16. Japan
  17. Kazakhstan
  18. Kenya
  19. Kuwait
  20. Lesotho
  21. Liechtenstein
  22. Macedonia
  23. Malta
  24. Moldova
  25. Monaco
  26. Morocco
  27. New Zealand
  28. Nicaragua
  29. Palau
  30. Peru
  31. San Marino
  32. Senegal
  33. Seychelles
  34. Singapore
  35. Sudan
  36. Thailand
  37. The Gambia
  38. The Philippines
  39. Tunisia
  40. Zambia

Existing international framework

The Vancouver Principles build on and complement the existing international child protection framework, such as:

“Additional tools, such as the Paris Principles, the Safe Schools Declaration and the more recent Vancouver Principles, should also be endorsed by every Member State. We can join forces to advocate for these endorsements.

“This is important because norms matter. Endorsements and ratifications of international agreements bring us one step closer to their implementation in contexts where they can have a real impact in children’s lives.”

- Virginia Gamba, United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict

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