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Progress as Africa marks ten years since the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child came into force

ADDIS ABABA, 26 November 2009 – “Significant strides have been made in the promotion of child survival, development, protection and participation in Africa,” said Mr. Saad Houry, UNICEF’s Deputy Executive Director, as Africa marks ten years since the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (Charter) came into force on 29 November 1999.

Today, 48 out of 53 African Union (AU) Member States have ratified the Charter. “However, the ratification of the Charter should not be seen as the end result, but rather the domestication into national laws and policies, as well as implementation of programmes to achieve positive and sustainable improvement on the lives of children,” Mr. Houry asserted.

The Charter, which is the first and only regional treaty in existence on the rights of the child, lays out responsibilities of government, family, community, children and individuals in the protection and promotion of the rights of the child. It also reflects on the realities of the lives of African children living within the African context, and is therefore very relevant.

Though substantive progress has been made, millions of African children still continue to reel under complex socio-economic, cultural, religious and political considerations, including disasters and conflicts, child labour, neglect, abductions, trafficking, displacement, preventable diseases, poverty and harmful traditional practices.

“In many parts of Africa, the rights of the child have met formidable obstacles and experience has shown us that as long as children’s rights are ignored, their exploitation, abuse and violence will continue to persist,” said H.E. Dr. Jean Ping, Chairperson of the AU Commission.

Dr. Ping commended the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC), for the work done thus far despite challenges faced, noting that the ACERWC is “increasingly becoming a solid force for monitoring and implementation of the Charter.” He encouraged the ACERWC to work vigorously to address the protection of children’s rights.

In partnership with the AU Commission, UNICEF is supporting the ACERWC’s Secretariat with technical, financial and human resources to ensure complementary action to the global monitoring mechanism on child rights, in addition to the development of ACERWC’s five-year Plan of Action-2010-2014. This support ensures that the Charter is implemented complementary to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), taking into account the African continent.

“Recently, UNICEF, together with the international community, commemorated the 20th anniversary of the CRC, and as we mark ten years since the coming into force of the Charter, we need to renew our resolve to promote and protect children’s rights in Africa within the confines of the CRC, as well as the Charter’s key principles of survival and development of the child, the best interest of the child, non-discrimination and participation,” concluded Mr. Houry.

UNICEF video and high-resolution photography for media organizations is available at: http://www.thenewsmarket.com/unicef

UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

For further information, please contact:
Anthony Mwangi, Public Affairs Manager
Direct line: +251 11 518 42 23, Cell: +251 911 51 30 58
Email: amwangi@unicef.org, Website: http://www.unicef.org




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