African Children’s Charter 25th anniversary
by Elizabeth Willmott-Harrop
20 November 2015
November 2015 heralds the 25th anniversary of the adoption of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC).
I worked with the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC) on behalf of their partner UNICEF, to produce a range of communications materials for the anniversary, including a quiz for children.
25th Anniversary Conference
A high level conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 20 and 21 November 2015 showcases a quarter century of progress and challenges in child rights in Africa, to mark the 25th anniversary.
Hosted by the ACERWC and supported by partners Plan International and UNICEF, the conference will celebrate a number of achievements in the realization of child rights, and critically assess the situation of children in Africa, with the aim of guiding future efforts.
Conference subjects will include “Until no Child has AIDS: How far have we come in the last 25 years?”; “Protection of Education from Attack during armed conflicts in Africa”; and “Access to social protection: A right and a means for fulfilling other child rights”. Country case studies will be discussed from Ethiopia (legislative and judicial mechanisms for protection of civil rights), Uganda (children whose parents are in conflict with the law) and Zimbabwe (the complex faces of child labour).
An exhibition at the conference will include children’s testimonies from across Africa, and highlight various thematic endeavours employed to promote and protect the rights of the child. Themes will include Child marriage; Child labour; Free and compulsory education; Child sale, trafficking and abduction; Right to name, birth registration and nationality; Responsibility of the child; Right to access basic health care services; Children with disabilities; Child participation; Child friendly justice systems; New challenges to children’s right in Africa; Alternative family care; and Child safeguarding.
About the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child
The African Children’s Charter is as relevant today as it was 25 years ago, particularly in relation to supporting development outcomes for the continent such as Agenda 2063 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The SDGs are designed to end poverty and improve social, economic and environmental outcomes for all by the year 2030. The rights enshrined in the charter support the SDGs in multiple ways – from ensuring the next generation of social and economic pioneers are healthy and well educated, to providing birth registration for all, a prerequisite for the fulfilment of other rights and for population planning and accountability.
Adopted by the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), 47 countries have ratified the ACRWC. Only 7 countries are still to agree to the implementation of this important legal instrument: Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, Somalia, Sao Tome and Principe, South Sudan, and Tunisia.
The ACERWC is mandated to promote and protect the rights enshrined in the Charter and launched a Campaign on the Universal Ratification and Reporting on the Implementation of the ACRWC in January 2014. This campaign will culminate during the commemoration with a call for the last remaining countries to ratify without delay and for there to be no further delays in reporting by countries.
The African Children’s Charter is the only regional instrument on the protection of the rights of children and encompasses a wide array of rights and obligations for the better advancement of children’s rights in Africa. The four ‘pillars’ of the UN convention on the rights of the child (CRC), namely, the principles of non-discrimination, the best interest of the child, life survival and development, and participation, are also incorporated with the same status in the African Children’s Charter. In addition, it also consists of provisions which are articulated in an innovative and progressive manner for the advancement of children’s rights in Africa. This enables the Charter to accord a greater degree of protection for African Children.