The African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC) opened its 28th Ordinary Session and 12th Pre-Session on 21st October, 2016, jointly with the 59th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, in Banjul, The Gambia.
The Joint Opening ceremony was convened under the framework of the African Year of Human Rights with special focus on the Rights of Women, which provides an opportunity to consolidate the gains already made over the years in the field of human rights, and ensure a reinforced coordination among African Union Human Rights Organs.
Speaking at the opening ceremony on behalf of HE. Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, the Commissioner for Political Affairs H.E. Dr. Aisha Laraba Abdullahi, recognised the particular significance of this year’s theme as timely and appropriate and stated:
The African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights came into force on 21 October 1986 thereby forming the basis for the commemoration of the Africa Human Rights Day (AHRD). The AHRD, which is celebrated annually across the continent on 21st October, is an opportunity to reflect, take stock and recommit to the solemn declaration undertaken by the African leaders and the African people to promote and safeguard human and peoples’ rights on the continent.
The Committee through its Second-Vice President, Mr. Joseph Ndayisenga, called for a greater coordination among AU Human Rights Organs and the urgent need for compliance by State Parties to the various African Human Rights instruments. He pleaded for the amendment of Article 5 of the Protocol establishing the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights with a view of enabling the ACERWC to directly access the Court and therefore seek reparations for grave violations of children’s rights in Africa.
The Joint opening Session was followed on 22nd October, by a Human Rights Dialogue that brought together representatives of AU Member States, AU Organs International Organisations, and Civil Societies Organisations.
The Committee continued its activity with its 28th Ordinary Session and 12th Pre-Session where State Party reports on the implementation of the African Children’s Charter from Cameroon, Ghana and Eritrea will be considered. During the Pre-Session, Complementary Reports from Civil Societies Organisations from four State Parties will also be examined.
At the core of this 28th Ordinary Session is the expected adoption of “AGENDA 2040”, an Africa’s Agenda for children’s rights for the next 25 years. The development of this Agenda is informed by the outcome of the conference on the Status of Children’s Rights in Africa, organized to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of the Adoption of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (20-21 November, 2015). The Agenda aims to assess the achievements and challenges towards the implementation of the African Children’s Charter and extract mechanisms that can galvanize efforts for a better protection of children’s rights in Africa. Its presents measurable goals and priority areas summarized into 10 Aspirations to which the African Union and its Member States commit themselves for the coming 25 years.
Another core moment of the Session will the adoption of the findings of the ACERWC Continental Study on the impact of armed conflicts on children. This study which addresses 13 countries among which 7 who are experiencing active conflict as of the time of writing, six in fragile post-conflict situations or in a major humanitarian crisis shows that “accountability for violations in conflict situations remains a serious problem. Accountability extends to States, which have not been effective in preventing, stopping or managing conflicts and crisis situations in a manner sufficient to reduce their impact on children. No lessons seem to have been learned from earlier conflicts; the same violations continue and States remain aloof to the plight of their children.”
Other activities during this Session include the consideration two Communications (complaints) against State Parties:
i. Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa (IHRDA) Vs The Republic of Malawi
ii. Minority Rights Group International and SOS-Esclaves on behalf of Said Ould Salem and Yarg Ould Salem Vs The Republic of Mauritania.
Moreover, the Committee also plans to adopt the first ever joint General Comment with the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) on child marriage and consideration of applications for Observer Status before the Committee.Distributed by APO on behalf of African Union Commission (AUC).