AU Watch

Defending Child Rights

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At AU Watch, we aim to promote and protect the rights of children as large-scale migration happens. We help keep them safe, give them an education, and equip them with skills for the future. We campaign on the root causes of conflict, and we demand that children are at the centre of all humanitarian responses.

We’re determined to change the story by:
• improving learning for children during their early years
• Putting the cost of childcare high on the political agenda
• ensuring children in humanitarian crises (including refugees) learn
• Putting children’s rights at the heart of everything we do

Our vital, life-changing work covers two main areas:

Promotion
We promote the rights of children in Africa. We do so mainly by popularising what’s in the African Charter On The Rights And Welfare Of The Child.

What is The African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child?
The African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child is a regional human rights treaty adopted in 1990 and which came into force in 1999. It sets out rights and defines principles for the status of children. The African Charter can be a powerful tool to hold governments accountable for ending child marriage. Indeed, it defines the rights and responsibilities of a child and mandates protection of the girl child from harmful cultural practices such as child marriage. In article 21 (2) it explicitly states that “child marriage and the betrothal of girls and boys shall be prohibited” and that “effective action, including legislation, shall be taken to specify the minimum age of marriage to be 18 years.”

HOW DOES THE AFRICAN CHARTER AND ITS REPORTING MECHANISM WORK?

The African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC) was established in 2001. States party to the charter submit reports to the committee, which documents information and assesses the situation of children. Member states must submit their first report on their implementation of the charter two years after ratification. After that, periodic reports are submitted every three years. The reporting process keeps governments accountable to the commitments they have made within the African Charter, and is a great opportunity to raise better measures to end child marriage. Members can see when their countries will submit a report on the committee.

Protection
WHO CAN SUBMIT A COMMUNICATION OR COMPLAINT TO THE ACERWC COMMITTEE?
Any group, person, non-government organisation, member state or UN body can submit a communication or complaint about any violation of the African Charter. A communication is usually a last resort when all national processes have been exhausted.