Canada’s policy on child soldiers – “Multi-faceted” is apparently another one of those irregular adjectives


Our approach is multi-faceted; yours is two-faced:

Last month, Senator Romeo Dallaire asked when Canada would bring in legislation to ensure that all applicable laws are in compliance with the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, which was ratified in 2002.

This week, he got his answer, which – as it turns out – is that there are no plans to do so, as, according to the Conservatives, the government is already in full compliance with the protocol, despite its stubborn refusal to intervene in the case of child soldier – and Canadian citizen – Omar Khadr. Apparently, that’s what is known as a “multi-faceted approach”:

Canada has a multi-faceted approach to implementing its international human rights obligations, including those found in the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflicts (“OP CRC (Armed Conflict)”).

Prior to ratification in 2000, a comprehensive assessment of federal laws, policies, and practices was conducted to determine if they complied with the OP CRC (Armed Conflict). A similar assessment was also undertaken by the provinces and territories. Canada did not signal its intention to be bound until after these comprehensive reviews had been completed. As a result of this review, Canada amended its National Defence Act (NDA) to entrench into law the Canadian Forces pre-existing policy of precluding persons under the age of 18 years from being deployed into areas where hostilities are taking place. This amendment (section 34 of the NDA) came into effect on June 29, 2000.

Canada also relies on the constitutional protections that are already in place under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, as well as through existing legislation, policies, programs, and public education to implement its international human rights obligations respecting children.

As with each of the major United Nations human rights treaties, Canada must periodically report to the United Nations on measures taken to implement Canada’s international human rights obligations. Canada submitted its first report on the OP CRC (Armed Conflict) to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child in 2004. It can be found at: http://www.pch.gc.ca/progs/pdp-hrp/docs/crc/pfcdeca_e.cfm)

Through this multi-faceted approach to implementation, the Government has determined that Canada is in compliance with the OP CRC (Armed Conflict), and as a result, the Government does not plan on passing specific implementing legislation. (emphasis added)


Canada’s policy on child soldiers – “Multi-faceted” is apparently another one of those irregular adjectives

  1. As I read it, the convention only obliges member states to use legal and administrative measures within it’s juristiction (Art. 6.1).

    The government can use the cop-out that it’s not within their juristiction.

    Articles 7.1 and 7.2 obliges member states to work together to implement the protocol, but it doesn’t say anywhere that a particular member state has to intervene when they know another state party is not following the protocol.

    At least that’s how I read it, and probably how the government reads it. It goes against the spirit of the convention, and is a piss-poor excuse for sitting on their hands and doing nothing.

  2. Souns completely appropriate to me and allows some flexibility for dealing with situations like Khadr where our actions are not only appropriate but the right ones as well. If someone leaves Canada then associates and assists known terrorists on the battle field and then is arrested by another country then we should respect the other country Seems starightforward enough for me and is why the Conservatives have my vote maybe the Liberals as well as they are the ones that started this!

  3. Are you voting twice in the election Wayne? That’s a no-no.

  4. Tried to post a comment before, but it appears to have been eaten – maybe there was too much html. In any case, here’s take two.

    Not to be picky, but what does the Optional Protocol have to do with Khadr? The Protocol enjoins ratifying states from recruiting or deploying children for or in combat. But Canada didn’t recruit or deploy Khadr; nor did the United States. If anyone has violated the Protocol, it’s the Taliban, or whatever sect Khadr was fighting for when he allegedly killed the American soldier. (Though I have a sneaking suspicion they aren’t signatories to the – uh – Optional Protocol.)

    If we’re so determined to get riled up over Khadr, shouldn’t we be expressing our anger towards those who actually recruited and deployed him, rather than at those who, had he been within their power, would have prevented him from engaging in combat?

    So pace Ms O’Malley and Sen. Dallaire, I don’t see what the Optional Protocol contributes to their argument that Khadr shouldn’t stand trial for his actions. No, Khadr shouldn’t have been in combat in the first place – but that’s the fault of the Taliban or whomever, not the fault of Canada or the United States. And once he was in combat, nothing in the Optional Protocol says he can’t be held accountable for his actions – taking into proper account, of course, the fact that he was a minor. (See http://www.maderblog.com/archives/2008/05/index.html#a002569 – in short we don’t generally absolve teenagers from all criminal liability, but instead impose a presumption against liability that can be rebutted by a showing that the individual in question did in fact have the mental state required to commit the crime).

    But maybe I’m missing the point. If Sen. Dallaire had his way, what would happen to Khadr upon his return to Canada?

  5. Yes David Mader you are missing the point.

    Canada has a position on child soldiers, has previously counselled others to behave with compassion, and has admitted Lost Boys to Canada as refugees. Given that stance, it is being hypocritical if we abandon those principles just because the politics surrounding this particular child soldier make it more uncomfortable.

  6. Well then Toby, a) what is Canada’s “position on child soldiers” – other than that Canada has pledged not to use child soldiers; and b) why does that position absolve child soldiers of all responsibility for their actions, when we don’t treat minors that way in any other criminal context?

  7. Well, we’ve not only pledged not to use child soldiers, but we have condemned the use of child soldiers in armed conflict, by both states and non-state military factions.

    This is, I’ll admit, an unusual circumstance — a Canadian child soldier who was serving under non-traditional command. But the point is that he is both a Canadian – which should, by itself, compel the government to seek repatriation from Guantenamo Bay, as has been done by *every single other Western nation* faced with prisoners being held there – *and* a child soldier, which should compel us to demand that the Optional Protocol be respected.

    I don’t pretend to be an expert in international law, but I’ve tried to follow the case, and I’ve been at every one of the hearings of the Subcommittee on International Human Rights thus far. From what I’ve heard, this hardly seems an extreme or unorthodox position. In fact, I suspect that the Canadian government will eventually reverse itself, and intervene to repatriate Khadr, at which point he would be brought back to Canada, at which point he could be charged under Canadian law, and tried here, or – yes, if the Crown wasn’t comfortable proceeding with a trial in a Canadian criminal court, released. (Several of the witnesses have outlined how that might work.)

  8. I hope that they do. And I would argue that Kadhr , while not perhaps forced into the army in a traditional sense, the indoctrination into the culture he received from his family during his early years should alone be enough to consider him ‘forced’. Didn’t we, at one point, have a reputation for compassion, humanitarianism and peace? Shouldn’t those attributes include, at the very least, keeping your citizens out of international prisons and quite possibly more?

  9. So is it fair to say that the objection is not to Khadr being tried, but to Khadr being tried by the United States, and that this objection is somehow made more urgent by the fact that Khadr was a minor at the time of his alleged act?

    If so, 1) doesn’t that really just collapse into an argument about the American capacity to conduct trials?; and 2) couldn’t the same argument be made as to any Canadian on trial not just at Gitmo but anywhere in the United States?; and 3) isn’t such an objection really, at the end of the day, a political objection regarding whether Canada should protest every prosecution of Americans abroad or should allow foreign jurisdictions to conduct their own judicial affairs?

    I’m not trying to suggest that yours is an extreme or unorthodox position; on the contrary, I recognize that it’s the prevailing view. My point is that Conservative opposition to this view is also not extreme, and that expressions of moral outrage from war hero senators ring a bit hollow when one sits down and thinks them through.

  10. The link shown in the article above goes to web page that has been removed or blocked.

  11. Hi

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