In 2005, I was Prime Minister Martin's lead into Darfur, and Senator Jaffer was with me. There was something called a comprehensive peace agreement between Sudan and Darfur that was trying to solve that problem. What we discovered in the peace agreement was that there was no mention of women or children—no women, no children—and not only not mentioned, but not even as part of the process.
Today, we're still facing significant elements where children or women are just not even part of the equation. When I speak of child rights up front, it comes down to what the priorities are to try to move a country to peace. How do you manage that process from conflict towards peace?
It's always been very much at the high level: men between men, big armies, and so on, and security, and diplomats and the like. Yet the nature of the conflict being civil wars, imploding nations, failing states, massive abuses of human rights of women and children and so on, those are the levels in which the conflicts are being played out and they are often not even part of the mandate, let alone the concept of solution or concept of operations. In so doing, you don't get a result. You just get a lot of administration, stalling, and holding it up at the high level.
We believe you can attrite these conflicts by going down into things like child rights, a peace and security agenda, a women's peace and security agenda, children's rights up front. You actually build your concept of operations for the security forces, as the military and so on, on this. Where would kids be that would make them vulnerable? How do we retrain those forces to be able to extract the kids and get at the kids without simply killing them? It goes on and on.
The more you are able to concentrate on that level, the more the mobilization base for those who want to keep the fight going, gets attrited and reduced. It's incredibly distressing that those who are the victims, and those who are being used as perpetrators, are actually never—or nearly never—mentioned in mandates and in concepts of operations, yet there's the source of your continued ability to sustain the conflicts.
I think that the liability side of child soldiers.... We, at the request of the chief prosecutor of the ICC, wrote her concept of how to prosecute people who recruit child soldiers. We've written it and presented it to the 100-odd countries that have joined in. It is now being used, and they're now prosecuting.
One of the new angles that are also being introduced is how you protect the children who are being interrogated, and how to protect them against the defence lawyers, of course. We're seeing cases where there isn't enough prosecution, of getting at the bad guys, because they can't get the sexual abuse side of the house defended enough to be able to be prosecuted. There's work to be done at the ICC in order to give it the tools to be able to protect the children and get the information.
One of the reasons for the Vancouver principles was to have security forces know what to look for. Soldiers and policemen don't necessarily report on children in a conflict zone. If you don't report on children and you don't report on abuses of children—it's just something that happens—you don't get the hard data you need to be able to prosecute the bad guy who's perpetrating that.
Educating the security forces to know what to look for and how to report it and how to make it stand for prosecution has been part of the Vancouver principles that we've been working on, and with significant enforcement.
I would like only to end on the women's side of the house. We've had women be able to communicate in the community and convince the men to stop recruiting children. We've had women who have been able to talk to women and have tea with them and converse with them—whereas men cannot even get close to that—and then they influence the men in the community to stop using child soldiers.
Here is an example. I was in South Sudan, and the governor there said, “I'm very proud because I'm stopping Joseph Kony from coming in and recruiting and stealing our kids because we've created local defence forces.” The Congo has just done that also. It has created community defence forces, He said, “We'll protect our children,” and so on.
When we went to see the makeup of the defence forces, more than half of the defence forces were kids. We said, “You have a willingness to stop the use of kids, yet you're using kids.” The response was, “Well, yeah, they're the ones available, you know,” and so on.
When the women start telling the men, “Hey, dummy, these are children. You don't use our children for this. Get the men out,” and so on, that can be a significant factor. That's why women are critical. They have a significant impact in the communities that men don't.
When people tell me that a male military observer for the UN and a female military observer for the UN are the same.... When you ask the men, that's the answer you get, but when you ask the women, you can see that there is a spectrum of new capabilities that they can bring to the conflict in these types of conflicts, which are civil wars, imploding nations, and abuses of human rights. These are human dimension exercises.
I think that Canada, as a leading middle power—and I'll get back to the point about the United States, you know, from earlier on—doesn't want the United States, necessarily, to lead. Canada should be leading, and Germany should be leading, and Sweden. We should be going in, not with the heavy boots of massive powers, but in fact, with the flexibility and the ability to adapt that countries like Canada have.
Canada's not having a seat and Canada's not being at the forefront of peacekeeping is taking a massive leadership role away from peacekeeping and innovative solutions.