Roméo Dallaire is a Canadian Senator (appointed to the Senate effective March 24, 2005 and sits as a member of the Liberal Party of Canada and retired Canadian Army Lieutenant-General.
A devoted humanitarian, Lieutenant General (LGen) Dallaire is President of the Lieutenant-General Roméo Dallaire Foundation; founder of the Child Soldiers Initiative, a project aimed at eradicating the use of child soldiers; an outspoken advocate for human rights, particularly war-affected children, women, the Canadian First Nations, and military veterans; a respected champion of genocide prevention initiatives, the Responsibility to Protect doctrine, and nuclear non-proliferation, as well as a best-selling author.
Throughout his distinguished military career, LGen Dallaire served in staff, training, and command positions through North America, Europe, and Africa, rising in rank from Army Cadet in 1960 to Lieutenant-General in 1998.
Most notably, LGen Dallaire was appointed Force Commander of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Rwanda (UNAMIR) prior to and during the 1994 genocide. LGen Dallaire provided the United Nations with information about the planned massacre, which ultimately took more than 800,000 lives in less than 100 days yet permission to intervene was denied and the UN withdrew its peacekeeping forces. LGen Dallaire, along with a small contingent of Ghanaian soldiers and military observers, disobeyed the command to withdraw and remained in Rwanda to fulfill their ethical obligation to protect those who sought refuge with the UN forces.
His courage and leadership during this mission earned him the Meritorious Service Cross, the United States Legion of Merit, the Aegis Award on Genocide Prevention, and the affection and admiration of people around the globe. His defiant dedication to humanity during that mission is well-documented (e.g. The Last Just Man, Shake Hands with the Devil: The Journey of Romeo Dallaire, The Lion, The Fox, and The Eagle), as are the personal consequences he continues to suffer and his subsequent commitment to fellow victims of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Upon being medically released from the Canadian Army in 2000, LGen Dallaire has served on the UN Advisory Committee on Genocide Prevention, as Special Advisor to the Minister of Veterans Affairs Canada, as Advisor to the Minister of National Defense, and as Special Advisor to the Minister responsible for the Canadian International Development Agency on matters relating to War Affected Children.
LGen Dallaire was born in Denekamp, Holland, on 25 June 1946, to Canadian Army Sergeant Roméo Louis Dallaire and Catharina Vermaesen Dallaire. He was raised and educated in Canada, joining le Collège militaire royal de Saint-Jean in 1964 (later assuming command of this institution as Brigadier-General in 1989), and graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree from the Royal Military College in 1969. He also attended the Canadian Land Forces Command and Staff College, the United States Marine Corps Command and Staff College in Virginia, and the United Kingdom Higher Command & Staff Course. LGen Dallaire holds honorary doctorates and fellowships from near three dozen universities in Canada and the United States.
LGen Dallaire is an Officer of the Order of Canada, a Grand Officer of the National Order of Quebec, and a Commander of the Order of Military Merit. He is the recipient of the United Nations Association of Canada’s Pearson Peace Medal, the Arthur Kroeger College Award for Ethics in Public Affairs from Carleton University, the Laureate of Excellence from the Manitoba Health Sciences Centre, and the Harvard University Humanist Award.
He is author of two best-selling books. His harrowing experiences in Rwanda are detailed in Shake Hands with the Devil – the Failure of Humanity in Rwanda, which won the Governor General’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction in 2004 and the “Shaughnessy Cohen Prize” for political writing awarded by the Writers' Trust of Canada. It provided the basis for an Emmy Award-winning documentary as well as a major motion picture of the same name; it has also been entered into evidence in war crimes tribunals trying the perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide.
LGen Dallaire’s most recent book, They Fight Like Soldiers; They Die Like Children – the Global Quest to Eradicate the Use of Child Soldiers, introduces the Child Soldier phenomenon and solutions to eradicate it: a mission to which LGen Dallaire has committed the rest of his life.