An Africa Fit for Children

By Kevin Anyonge

It’s been 30 years since the adoption of the African children’s charter. This year’s day of the African child commemoration theme is “30 years after the adoption of the Charter: Accelerate implementation of agenda 2040 for an “Africa Fit for children”.

In 1991, the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the then OAU (Now African Union) instituted the Day of the African Child is in memory of the 16th June 1976 student uprising in Soweto, South Africa, At that time, students marched in protest against the poor quality of education they received and demanded to be taught in their languages.

The day of the African child serves to commemorate these children and the brave action they took in defence of their right. The day of the African child thus celebrates the children of Africa and calls for serious introspection and commitment towards addressing the numerous challenges facing children across the continent. The celebration should be contextualized by Member States as a build-up to the realization of the rights of children from the family or community level and up to national and international levels.

In 2016, the African Committee adopted “Agenda 2040: Fostering an Africa fit for children”- a 25-year agenda for the long -term and strategic progress in implementing children’s rights in Africa. Agenda 2040 provides a child-centered focus based on the African Union’s Agenda 2063, which highlights children’s rights and welfare concerns in Paragraph 53.

Agenda 2063 envisions an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its citizens, representing a dynamic force in the international arena. It is guided by seven aspirations, and aspiration six calls for an Africa whose development is people-driven, relying on the potential of African people, especially its women and youth, and caring for children. This aspiration informed the adoption of Agenda 2040.

The Africa’s Agenda for Children 2040 was the result of conclusions from a High-Level Conference held in Addis Ababa from 20-21 November 2015 to assess the status of the rights of children in Africa 25 years following the adoption of the Children’s Charter as part of the Commemoration activities of the 25th Anniversary of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child.

Agenda 2040 is guided by the following ten aspirations:

· Aspiration 1: The African Children’s Charter, as supervised by the African Children’s Committee, provides an effective continental framework for advancing children’s rights.

· Aspiration 2: An effective child-friendly national legislative, policy and institutional framework is in place in all member States.

· Aspiration 3: Every child’s birth and other vital statistics are registered.

· Aspiration 4: Every child survives and has a healthy childhood.

· Aspiration 5: Every child grows up well-nourished and with access to the basic necessities of life.

· Aspiration 6: Every child benefits fully from quality education.

· Aspiration 7: Every child is protected against violence, exploitation, neglect and abuse.

· Aspiration 8: Children benefit from a child-sensitive criminal justice system.

· Aspiration 9: Every child is free from the impact of armed conflicts and other disasters or emergency situations.

· Aspiration 10: African children’s views matter.

African governments are required to commit to achieve the agenda 2040 fostering an Africa fit for children.

By 2040 Expectations:

  • Armed conflict on the continent is significantly reduced. 
  • The proliferation of arms, in particular small arms and light weapons, has been halted. 
  • Armed forces deployed during hostilities are proactively supported by military training, which includes specific modules dealing with issues such as the identification of children, the verification of age, and the handover referral system of children to civilian authorities at the earliest possible instance. 
  •  There are no child soldiers; no child is recruited into the armed forces or plays a direct part in armed hostilities. 
  • The social, cultural, economic and political determinants of conflict and violence are addressed through changing of attitudes and behavior. 
  • Basic services are restored in States facing conflict and instability; children’s wellbeing, reflected in low infant mortality rates and extensive access to health care and education, is the worst in States undergoing protracted conflict and instability. 
  • Children, in particular the youth and adolescents, play a key role in peace-building and prevention, so as to draw attention to the structural and more immediate causes of conflict as they relate to children. 
  • Children involved in and affected by armed conflict are reintegrated into communities and provided with adequate psychosocial support. 
  • Children’s rights are integrated into peacemaking, peace-building and preventive actions. 
  •  Children are equipped to be resilient in the face of disasters or other emergency situations. 
  •  Separated and unaccompanied children are prioritized and provided with special protection.

Implementation of this Agenda

  • Implementation of agenda 2040 will takes place in five phases. The Agenda is implemented in each State party, on the basis of a national implementation plan, guided by the overall Action Plan, for each implementation phase. The end dates of each of the five implementation phases are 2020, 2025, 2030, 2035 and 2040. Each State party reports to the African Children’s Committee at the end of each phase

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