The Canadian military has unveiled a program aimed at preventing the use of child soldiers around the world.

Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan announced on Tuesday plans to establish the “Dallaire Centre of Excellence for Peace and Security” within the Canadian Defence Academy. The centre will help the Canadian military implement the Vancouver Principles on Peacekeeping and the Prevention of the Recruitment and Use of Child Soldiers, which are a set of government commitments aimed at eliminating the use of child soldiers.

Retired general Romeo Dallaire, for whom the centre is named, witnessed dozens of child soldiers as a United Nations commander during Rwandan genocide of the1990s. He opened the Romeo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative in 2007 to teach security personnel how to handle children at war.

“(I) found that it was essential that we bring to the attention to people that it is morally repugnant to have children recruited and used as child soldiers,” Dallaire told reporters.

“It’s also just as irresponsible to send troops into such conflicts without the proper training, tools, tactics and techniques to give clear operational guidance and how best to protect both the children and the peacekeepers.”

As part of the announcement, Sajjan also released a document called the “Implementation Guidance for the Vancouver Principles,” a set of guidelines for the 89 countries who signed onto the Vancouver Principles to develop a framework for stopping children from being forced into war and committed $1.175 million to the Romeo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiativeover the next five years.

“The recruitment and use of child soldiers remains a persistent and tragic reality in far too many conflict zones around the world,” Sajjan said.

“These two initiatives, the release of the implementation guidance and the implementation of the Dallaire Centre of Excellence for Peace and Security, will help both Canada and the international community to reduce conflict around the world.”

According to Child Soldiers International, there were 29,000 verified cases of children recruited as soldiers between 2012 and 2017, though the organization believes the actual numbers are much higher.