Dear friends, partners and supporters,
 
This is your latest – and last – update from the team at Child Soldiers International.
 
As you may have seen on our website and social media accounts, we recently announced that Child Soldiers International would be closing on 7 June.
 
In the last few years we have faced increasing funding challenges. Somehow, we always found ways to bounce back. But in 2018-2019 we lost a significant portion of our core funds due to changes in donor strategies, and we strongly felt that our purpose and beneficiaries would be best served by transferring our work to more financially-stable partners – rather than by downsizing.
 
We are lucky to have such partners, who value our work and swooped in to ensure none of it would cease if we closed down.
 
Where is our work going?
 
The Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative is a Canada-based organization working to end the recruitment of children. They will take over most of our programmes including our online map on child recruitment, the Child Soldiers World Index, as well as our work in Congo and South Sudan.
 
They were founded by General Roméo Dallaire, Commander of the UN Peacekeeping Mission in Rwanda during the 1994 genocide. Like us, they believe that, in order to end the use of child soldiers, we must focus on prevention. They do this through research, advocacy and security sector training. They are renowned and respected advocates of children’s rights in conflict.
 
We are so proud that our work will continue through their hard-working and passionate team!  
 
The Child Rights International Network (CRIN) will be taking on our campaign to raise the minimum recruitment age in the British armed forces. Like us, CRIN is a London-based organisation with a small team but a strong voice that does not shy away from controversial topics.
 
This voice is needed at a time when human rights are under attack around the world.

CRIN tackles a wide range of lesser-known issues relating to children’s rights such as toxic pollution, life imprisonment, rights in the digital age, and the right to vote. Their work on setting minimum ages on a number of issues will provide a useful framework for our UK work.  We know that the campaign will greatly benefit from CRIN’s fresh and creative outlook, and achieve new successes in its hands.
 
Our legacy
 
Child Soldiers International was established as a coalition in 1998 to promote the adoption of the child soldier treaty (OPAC). Today an impressive proportion of states (168 out of 197) have ratified and are implementing the treaty. 
 
Implementation is, and will remain, a continuous effort but our achievements, new and old, have significantly strengthened the protection of children from military exploitation everywhere: 21 years on, our campaigning has led to a strong global consensus that children should never be soldiers, and it created robust mechanisms to end the use of child soldiers.
 
We are proud of our legacy, which we know will live on with the Dallaire Initiative and CRIN, but also many other child rights actors around the world. In the chaos of war, it is not always easy to think of long-term prevention, but one thing we have learnt in the last 20 years, is that the cycle of recruitment will not end unless it is addressed at its source.
 
The final word…
 
Just before we say goodbye, we want to express our utmost gratitude to all our partners, supporters and donors for giving us their collaboration, advice and trust through all these years.
 
We also feel privileged to have benefited from the expertise and hard work of so many dedicated staff, Trustees, consultants and volunteers who, year by year, uniquely contributed to strengthening our purpose, our expertise and ultimately our impact.
 
Although this little community will no longer coalesce around Child Soldiers International and its projects, we know its members will continue fighting for our purpose.
 
We’re truly heartened by the countless messages of admiration, congratulations and support we received from so many of you since we announced our closure. We’ve included a few messages on our website. Thank you all so very much for your kind words.
 
So this is goodbye… And we choose to leave you with the words of Graça Machel, mother of the children and armed conflict mandate: “The impact of armed conflict on children is everyone’s responsibility. And it must be everyone’s concern.” 
 
Isabelle Guitard
Director