Since the commencement of its work in 2002, the ACERWC has worked assiduously to increase the number of ratifications of the ACRWC by AU member states. To this end, the ACERWC has carried out a number of promotional visits to African states including Burundi, Madagascar, Namibia and Sudan. Presently the number of ratification stands at 46 out of 53 AU member states.
Strengthening institutional structures
The ACERWC has also continuously worked on strengthening its institutional structures. Working with a small Secretariat, the ACERWC has been able to develop its:
- Rules of Procedure (2003), which are currently being revised;
- Guidelines for Initial Reports of States Parties (2003);
- Guidelines for the Consideration of Communications Provided for in Article 44 of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (2005), currently under revision;
- Guidelines for the Conduction of Investigations by the African Committee of Experts on The Rights and Welfare of the Child under Article 45 of the African Charter and Rule 74 of the Rules of Procedure (2006); and
- Guidelines for the Criteria for Granting Observer Status in the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child to Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and Associations (2006).
In furtherance of its promotional mandate, since its establishment, the ACERWC has held thematic discussions on key issues and problems affecting children ranging from children and armed conflict, duties of the African child under article 31 of the ACRWC, child participation, and the ‘best-interest’ principle, the impact of HIV/AIDS, poliomyelitis and malaria on children.
The ACERWC, at its 12th Ordinary Session adopted eleven key themes to be assigned to the Experts to take charge of. These were: Violence Against Children; Education of Children; Juvenile Justice; Child Participation; Integrated Development of Early Childhood; Survival and Development; Orphaned and Other Vulnerable Children; Family Responsibilities and Child Responsibilities; Registration of Children; Children Abuse and Exploitation; and Children in Armed Conflicts and Natural Disasters, Refugee and Displaced Children.
Celebrating the Day of the African Child
Another key milestone in the ACERWC’s promotional work has been the celebration of the Day of the African Child (DAC) on 16th June each year. The DAC was adopted by the Organisation of African Unity in 1991 to commemorate the protest march by school children in Soweto, South Africa to demand their right to quality education and to be taught in their own language, which resulted in the killing of more than a hundred children and the injuring of more than a thousand. The DAC has since been used by the ACERWC to draw the attention of AU Member States to their obligations under the ACRWC to respect, protect, promote and fulfil the rights of the child. Each year, the ACERWC selects a theme to celebrate the day. Themes covered include: ‘Right to Protection: Stop Violence Against Children’ (2006); ‘Combat Child Trafficking’ (2007); ‘Right to Participate: Let Children Be Seen and Heard’ (2008); ‘Africa Fit for Children: Call for Accelerated Action Towards their Survival’ (2009); ‘Planning and Budgeting for the Wellbeing of the Child: A Collective Responsibility’ (2010); and ‘All Together for Urgent Action for Street Children’ (2011).
Investigative mission to Northern Uganda
In fulfilling its protection mandate, the ACERWC undertook an investigation mission to Northern Uganda in August 2005 to appraise itself of the state of children in the conflict in that territory. The ACERWC presented its report to the AU Executive Council, the Permanent Representatives Committee and the Assembly.
Consideration of communications
The Committee has also received two Communications so far. The first concerning the situation of children in Northern Uganda and the second relating to the child’s right to nationality. The Committee has declared the first Communication admissible and given its final decision on the merits in the second Communication.