32nd ordinary session of the African committee of experts of the rights and welfare of the child

November 22nd, 2018

The Session was opened by Honorable Goitseone Nanikie Nkwe, Chairperson of the ACERWC in presence of Representatives of the African Union Commission, Representatives of the Governments of South Africa and Zambia, CSOs from Zambia, Rwanda, Nigeria, Eswatini and South Africa, Representatives of UNICEF, Save the Children, Plan International, World Vision International (WVI), The African Child Policy Forum (ACPF), International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and other partners.

In her opening remarks, Mme Goitseone Nanikie Nkwe, congratulated Mrs Mariama Mohamed Cisse, former Executive-Secretary of the Committee for her new appointment as the Director of Social Affairs.  Members of the Committee who have been re-elected at the previous Summit of the African Union were sworn-in in presence of a representative of the Office of the Legal Counsel of the African Union Commission.

The Chairperson noted an increase in the number partners and participants as a reflection of the increasing work of the Committee. She also highlighted an increase of submission of State Party Reports (41 out of the 48 State Parties to the Charter), and congratulated South Africa for the timely submission of its periodic report. The Chairperson featured the work of committee which included: advocacy and follow up missions as well as engagement with Regional Economic Communities (RECS). Taking into concern progress achieved, the Chairperson indicated that there still exist many challenges and all stakeholders need to work together to address these challenges. Finally, the Chairperson thanked partners who supported the convening of this session mainly UNICEF, Plan International, Save the Children, European Union, and ICRC.

On behalf of the Commissioner of Social Affairs H.E Amira Al Fadil, Mrs Mariama Mohamed Cisse, Director of Social Affairs, addressed the meeting. She recognized the efforts made by the Department of Social Affairs in regards to protection and promotion of children’s rights. The Department has designed and implemented various activities such as the Saleema Campaign on ending Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), which will be launch in January 2019, as the outcome of the high-level dialogue in Burkina Faso where Ministers signed a Declaration to end FGM by 2030, the AU Campaign on Ending Child Marriage and the initiatives relating to combating malnutrition. As a newly appointed Director of the Department of Social Affairs, she is committed to work with the Committee and its partners to further take the agenda of creating an ‘Africa fit for Children’ forward. Finally, she extended her appreciation to the Members of the Committee, congratulated the re-elected committee members, Staff of the Secretariat and partner organisations.

Dr. Edward Addai, UNICEF Representative to the AU/UNECA, made remarks on behalf of the UN Agencies. Dr.Edward recognised the efforts employed and specifically applauded the AU for its measures on harnessing the demographic dividend and the Committee’s work in the implementation of the Charter; increasing awareness about Agenda 2040; increasing ratification of and reporting on the Charter; and development of concluding observation and recommendations. Additionally, He highlighted that the focus should be on stronger implementation of the existing frameworks and recommended to the Committee to engage with State Parties to adopt policies and laws in line with the regional frameworks including harmonization of laws; to increase budget allocation to children’s rights, and to strengthen data as well as monitoring and evaluation. He concluded by assuring support of UNICEF and the UN family for its work and activities to create an Africa fit for Children.

At the core of 32nd session was the adoption of ACERWC study on mapping children on the move within Africa, the study that is meant to propose policy intervention areas to tackle the perverse effects of movement on children in Africa. Other major undertakings included considering the state party reports from South Africa and Zambia. The complementary reports by CSOs from Eswatini, Rwanda and Senegal was deliberated as well. The consideration of the draft concept note for the Day of the Africa Child 2019 which will be celebrated on 16 June 2019 under the theme of ‘Humanitarian action in Africa – children’s rights first’ was equally discussed.

The discussions on the draft general comment on article 22 on children in armed conflict highlighted the key moments of the session.The main objective of the General Comment was to expound State Party Obligations under article 22 and to assist States in the conceptualisation, adoption and implementation of laws, policies, and practices to protect children in the context of armed conflict.

The 32nd session also considered various briefings and discussions on global impact on migration, child participation in areas affected by conflict and presentation by the African Wide Movement for Children and Young Workers who have included child participation. The discussion with centre around issues of implementation of programs designated for children.

Finally, the committee considered various issues in closed sessions which will include: pending communications, application for observer status  by four organisations, considering progress made in the campaign on ending child marriage in Africa, Proposal to include disability in reporting guidelines, mission reports, briefings on the joint monitoring framework on implementation of decisions, and presentation of draft data base on monitoring of concluding observations and states parties reports.