Africa is set on a course towards a different and better Africa. The vision that inspires this course is captured in the African Union Agenda 2063. Because the ideals in Agenda 2063 will not be achieved overnight, young people and children, in particular have to be the drivers of Africa’s renaissance.
Securing future progress, peaceful co-existence and welfare lies in their hands. In order to allow them to take charge of Africa’s future, their full potential has to be unlocked by fully protecting and realizing their rights.
Agenda 2063 lists the following aspirations for the Africa ‘we want’:
● A prosperous Africa based on inclusive growth and sustainable development.
● An integrated continent, politically united, based on the ideals of Pan-Africanism and the vision of Africa’s Renaissance.
● an Africa of good governance, democracy, respect for human rights, justice and the rule of law.
● A peaceful and secure Africa.
● An Africa with a strong cultural identity, common heritage, values and ethics.
● An Africa whose development is people-driven, relying on the potential of African people, especially its women and youth, and caring for children.
● Africa as a strong, united, resilient and influential global player and partner.
Background to the Agenda Africa’s Agenda for Children 2040
By 2015, 25 years have lapsed since the African Union Assembly of Heads of State and Government (AU Assembly), adopted the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (African Children’s Charter) on 1 June 1990. This landmark moment provided an opportunity to reflect on the accomplishments over a quarter of a century, to identify the remaining challenges and to plan ahead. Much was achieved between 1990 and 2015, but much remains to be done.
Over the 25 years between 1990 and 2015, the African Children’s Charter has come to be recognized as the principal treaty dealing with children on the African continent. By December 2015, it had been ratified or acceded to by 47 AU member States. The Children’s Charter’s almost universal acceptance as the foremost treaty framework was a gradual process. The milestone of its entry into force, which required ratification by 15 States, was reached after about a decade, on 29 November 1999.
By the end of the first decade (1990-1999), 16 States had become party to the treaty; by the end of the second decade (2000-2009), another 29 States had been added; in the last five years (2010-2015), only two States joined. The advent of the new millennium, in 2000, saw the largest number six States ratifying in a single year. The accelerated acceptance by States at the time coincided with the transition of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) into the African Union (AU). The seven States that are not yet State parties have at least signed the Children’s Charter.
By signing the Charter, they have shown that they are prepared to align themselves with its object and purpose. The adoption of the African Children’s Charter’s and its subsequent level of acceptance irrevocably changed the basis on and the way in which continental organs and member States to deal with children.
Under the Children’s Charter, children are no longer viewed as objects of concern and sympathy, but are accepted as autonomous rights holders. This understanding of the child, particularly the girl child, has been resisted by forces of patriarchy and those holding deep-seated traditional views about the child’s subservient position in society.
The Children’s Charter has set the continent on a constant course of growing acceptance of the independent personhood of children. Together with the shift in the discourse towards accepting children as rights holders came the recognition that States bear the duty to uphold these rights. Accountability of the State in the form of the current government is based on the synergy between rights holders and duty bearers.
The Children’s Charter has given a continental basis for State accountability to uphold the independent personhood of our children.
All African UN member States have ratified the CRC and 47 of them are party to the African Children’s Charter. Of these 47 States, 11 (Benin, Botswana, Burundi, Cape Verde, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, The Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, the Seychelles, Swaziland and Zambia) have never submitted a State report to the African Children’s Committee.
In addition to the African Children’s Charter and the UNCRC, a number of other AU and other international treaties are of great relevance to children, and serve to complement the African Children’s Charter. The most obvious is the ‘mother treaty’, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (African Charter), which provides extensively for the rights of ‘every individual’, including children.
Agenda 2040 fostering an Africa fit for children is anchored on 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.
Additional information compiled from: https://www.acerwc.africa/agenda-2040/
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