In the last three decades, Africa has made significant progress to fulfill international and regional legal obligations enshrined under the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC).
Equipped now with more laws, policies, institutions and many good practices and lessons learnt on safeguarding the human rights of all children, including their protection from all forms of violence. More children have access to health services, education and birth registration and increased awareness among people and societies about Child Rights. There are also important initiatives raising up on child participation and child empowerment and a strong mobilization for Child Rights supported by a vibrant CSOs community.
However, despite progress made, many forms of violence are still perceived as normal or even a necessary part of the growing up process of a child. This relates particularly to physical and humiliating punishment and human degradation of girls and women, due to the common acceptance of gender-based violence.
The Special Representative’s mandate prioritizes three main areas of action that are particularly relevant in the current context of the African Continent: Advocacy for accelerated implementation of SDG target 16.2 and other related SDGs that are drivers of VAC; Ensure that all forms of violence are included in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, ensuring that no child is left behind; Amplifying the voices of children and empowering them as key actors of change, with a particular attention to the most vulnerable.
Accelerating Implementation of the SDGs and Agenda 2030
The Special Representative has engaged with the nine African countries that have submitted their VNR in 2021 Angola, Cabo Verde, Chad, Djibouti, Madagascar, Namibia, Niger, Sierra Leone and Zimbabwe. During the 2021 HLPF, the office organized a VNR Lab with the focus on investing in children during the recovery phase as we are building back better from the pandemic and a Side Event on Mental Health in which African representatives shared their practices and challenges. Following these engagement, the Office of the Special Representative was invited to participate in national consultations to ensure children are mainstreamed and consulted in the VNR process in Madagascar and Namibia.
In 2020, Sixteen African countries have submitted VNRs (Benin, Burundi, DRC Congo, Gambia, Kenya, Liberia, Libya, Malawi, Morocco, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Uganda and Zambia). During the 2020 HLPF, the office organized the first VNR Lab with the focus on developing a child-sensitive and child-inclusive SDG national review, in which African representatives shared their practices.
Africa and COVID19
On the second year of the pandemic, Violence against Children remains one of the main challenge for African children. The COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the already challenging situation of African children exacerbating inequalities and vulnerabilities. Girls, children with disabilities, children from minority groups, indigenous children, refugees and migrants' children, children living on the street, child domestic workers, internally displaced children, children deprived of family care and deprived of liberty, children living in conflict affected areas, children affected by climate-related disasters, are now even more at risk to be victims of violence and exploitation facing direct threats to their development and mental wellbeing.
The COVID-19 pandemic and the economic crisis have exacerbated poverty and school dropout. It was estimated already in 2020 that an additional 142 million more children fell into poverty, increasing the risk of children being exposed to various forms of violence. Millions more children are likely to enter into child labour, an additional 13 million girls are at risk of child marriage over the next decade and a surplus of 2 million cases of female genital mutilation.
This pandemic must be taken as an opportunity to use the Human capital available in Africa. The future of Africa is today with its children. With sixty per cent of the population in Africa under 25, Africa is the youngest continent. We have seen impressive innovative child-led initiatives to inform, report and address Violence Against Children offline and online.
SRSG latest work in Africa
In 2021, the Office of the Special Representative has strengthen its works in close collaboration with African partners to advance the rights of all children across the continent to enjoy a childhood free from all forms of violence, providing support to develop and/or strengthen existing legal and policy frameworks, and consolidating an evidenced based advocacy supported by disaggregated data to address challenges and advance progress throughout the region.
The Office regional strategy seeks to work closely with the African Union regional mechanism such as the African Union Commission and the AU Organs (African Commission on Human And People’s Rights, Pan African Parliament) and sub-regional mechanism (RECs) and identity key partners at the community, country, sub regional and regional level to achieve the SDGs toward the implementation of Agenda 2030 and AU agenda 2063 and the African fit for children Agenda 2040 to end violence against children in Africa.
July 2021 – Namibia: The Special Representative held a session with the Child Parliament of Namibia, an inspiring and interactive dialogue with around 30 child Parliamentarians. The discussion on how children can take action and contribute to accelerate the SDG’s and Agenda 2030’s implementation, led to the adoption of strong recommendations for each of the 17 SDGs. Three child parliamentarians were selected to join Namibia’s delegation at the HLPF to present this year VNR.
July 2021 – APEVAC: High level conference Towards an Africa Free from Violence against Children where three key reports were launched, providing African Member States with strong updated data on VAC in Africa and indicating that African children continue to suffer widespread physical, psychological and sexual violence.
SRSG Maalla M'jid statement English
May-June 2021 - WCA and East and Southern Africa Roundtables - Initiative for Child Rights in the Global Compacts on Migration and on Refugees to feed into the regional consultation for the 2022 first review of the Global Compact on Migration.
June 2021 African Union Webinar on Safeguarding in Sport – The African Union Sport council. The Special representative took this opportunity to recall Member States and keys stakeholders that sport is a vehicle to peace and development and it need strong safeguarding policy and frameworks to protect and prevent children from facing exploitation, trafficking, harassment and sexual abuses trough sport.
June 2021 – Nigeria : Renewed commitment by Nigeria during the High Level National Policy Dialogue on Ending Violence Against Children in Nigeria to take stock of what has been achieved since 2017 when Nigeria became a pathfinder country and accelerate progress toward an country free from VAC.
November 2019 - Mission to Mozambique: Special Representative Maalla M'jid commends strong commitment of Mozambique to give high priority to the protection of children from violence
Human Rights Standards
African Union Human Rights Bodies and Mechanisms
This year the Office of the Special Representative provided inputs into the ACERWC’s General Comments on Article 22 (Children Affected in Armed Conflict) and Article 27 (Sexual Exploitation) of the African Children’s Charter.
African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights
Country VaC Surveys
2020 Cote Ivoire
General Comment no 5 on “State Party Obligations under the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (Article 1) and systems strengthening for child protection English
Partners in action
Regional Economic Communities
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)
The Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS)
Civil Society Organizations
D R Congo
Child Helpline 16000
Child Helpline Gambia
African Movement for the Prevention of Child Abuse & Neglect
Child Helpline Lesotho
Africa Year of Human Rights (2016)
Cross Regional roundtables joint statements