Is West Africa ready for children’s’ ombudsmen?
Bamako, Mali, 23 June 2009 - This is the question being posed in Bamako by experts as they meet to encourage the development of Ombudsmen for children in a region noted for high rates of child mortality and serious rights abuse.
The idea for countries to have a Children’s’ Ombudsman is gaining popularity in the world. Such offices encourage the fullest possible implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the child, support collective lobbying for children’s rights and promote the development of effective independent offices for children.
All countries in West Africa have ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which marks its twentieth anniversary this year. But the region faces immense challenges and children often bear the consequences of early death, lack of education, trafficking and even, in some instances, conscription into armed groups. Independent Ombudsmen in countries would work to try to make sure that policies affecting children put their interests first.
The meeting in Bamako jointly organized by UNCEF and l’Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (OIF) will include high level human rights actors and government representatives from three Francophone countries (Senegal, Burkina Faso and Mali,) and will be addressed by the Ombudsman from Mauritius, Shirin Aumeeruddy Cziffra, one of only two such officials in Africa. Representatives of Ombudsman Offices from different countries in Europe and Canada are also attending.
‘The early acceptance of the Convention in West Africa was an important first step,’ said Joachim Theis, the regional Child Protection adviser for UNICEF. ‘Establishing independent Ombudsmen would be a major leap forward in safeguarding children and putting children at the centre of the policy agenda.’
About the meeting
Download UNICEF Working Paper (in French): ‘Les institutions indépendantes des droits de l’homme pour les enfants en Afrique francophone: la situation au Mali, au Burkina Faso et au Sénégal’
About the Ombuds for Children
Ombuds institutions are in regular contact with children, bring their voices to decision makers, and are constantly attentive to children’s best interests. An increasing number of countries across the world’s regions look to these institutions for support in fulfilling their commitments to children.
For further information, please contact:
Gaelle Bausson, UNICEF Regional Office for West And Central Africa, Dakar
Patrizia Faustini, UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre, Florence Italy
Télécharger le document de travail de l’UNICEF: ‘Les institutions indépendantes des droits de l’homme pour les enfants en Afrique francophone: la situation au Mali, au Burkina Faso et au Sénégal’