45TH ORDINARY SESSION OF THE AFRICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN AND PEOPLES’ RIGHTS, MAY 13-27 2009, BANJUL, THE GAMBIA
STATEMENT BY SAVE THE CHILDREN SWEDEN, IHRDA AND PARTNERS ON STRENGTHENING COOPERATION BETWEEN THE AFRICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN AND PEOPLES’ RIGHTS AND THE AFRICAN COMMITTEE OF EXPERTS ON THE RIGHTS AND WELFARE OF THE CHILD
Save the Children Sweden (SCS) and the Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa (IHRDA) supported by child rights organisations in Africa call on the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights to strengthen its cooperation with the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child.
The enormity of challenges faced by children in Africa cannot be underestimated. Children are increasingly subject to violations of their rights including violence, exploitation, harmful traditional practices, trafficking, abuse and neglect. Poverty makes children more vulnerable to social exclusion, discrimination, death by preventable diseases and lack of good quality education. Children are also among the primary victims of armed conflicts.
The African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child has the primary responsibility for promoting and protecting child rights under the African Union. Hence it is the only continental body specifically focusing on child rights in the world. The African Committee derives its mandate from the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child and performs functions similar to the African Commission. Regarding its protection mandate, it is the only child rights treaty mechanism with a communications procedure. In almost a decade of its existence, the African Committee is still grappling with the problem of getting a permanent and well-resourced Secretariat. The Committee is also heavily-underfunded.
Recognising the complementary role that the Committee and the Commission could play in enhancing each other’s work, civil society organisations working on child rights are reiterating their call for the two treaty bodies to cooperate. Child rights organisations urged the Commission to multiply its collaboration with the Committee during the NGO Forum at the 44th Session of the Commission in Abuja, Nigeria in November 2008. This call was repeated during the 1st Child focused Civil Society Forum at the just ended 13th Session of the Committee held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in April 2009.
Though children constitute a unique group worthy of particular protection, they are entitled to enjoy all human rights – like all other persons. Consequently, the promotion and protection of their rights should be the responsibility of all. By working more closely with the Committee, the African Commission would be strengthening the Committee in fulfilling its mandate.
We therefore call upon the African Commission to:
- Establish a formal relationship with the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child;
- Participate actively in the Sessions of the Committee;
- Undertake joint missions with the Committee where the issues necessitating the mission concern children as well;
- Appoint a focal person within the Commission to liaise with the Committee; and
- When relevant, refer issues concerning children that are brought before the Commission to the Committee.