CHILDREN AND ARMED CONFLICTS IN AFRICA - PDF

Please download to get full document.

View again

of 47
All materials on our website are shared by users. If you have any questions about copyright issues, please report us to resolve them. We are always happy to assist you.
Information Report
Category:

Health & Lifestyle

Published:

Views: 17 | Pages: 47

Extension: PDF | Download: 0

Share
Related documents
Description
CHILDREN AND ARMED CONFLICTS IN AFRICA CENTRE FOR CONFLICT RESOLUTION CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA POLICY ADVISORY GROUP SEMINAR REPORT 12 AND 13 APRIL 2007, INDABA HOTEL, JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA CHILDREN
Transcript
CHILDREN AND ARMED CONFLICTS IN AFRICA CENTRE FOR CONFLICT RESOLUTION CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA POLICY ADVISORY GROUP SEMINAR REPORT 12 AND 13 APRIL 2007, INDABA HOTEL, JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA CHILDREN AND ARMED CONFLICTS IN AFRICA A POLICY SEMINAR HOSTED BY CENTRE FOR CONFLICT RESOLUTION (CCR) AND THE OFFICE OF THE UNITED NATIONS HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS (OHCHR), SOUTHERN AFRICA REGIONAL OFFICE INDABA HOTEL, JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA 12 AND 13 APRIL 2007 SEMINAR REPORT RAPPORTEURS ABIOLA AYINLA AND MIREILLE AFFA A MINDZIE Table of Contents Acknowledgements, CCR, the OHCHR and the Rapporteurs 5 Executive Summary 6 1. Introduction Objectives Background Seminar Themes and Debates Overview of the Normative Framework for the Protection of Children Affected by Armed Conflict in Africa International Human Rights Law and Children Affected by Armed Conflict: A Comparative Analysis of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child Mechanisms for Advocating and Monitoring the Rights of Children Affected by Armed Conflict in Africa Opportunities and Challenges for Ensuring the Rights of Children Affected by Armed Conflict in Africa Policy Recommendations 34 Annexes I. Agenda 36 II. List of Participants 40 III. List of Acronyms 42 DESIGN: KULT CREATIVE, CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA EDITORS: KEN MCGILLIVRAY, INDEPENDENT CONSULTANT, CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA, AND YAZEED FAKIER, CENTRE FOR CONFLICT RESOLUTION, CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA PHOTOGRAPHS: DORIAN SPENCE, JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA CHILDREN AND ARMED CONFLICTS IN AFRICA 3 Acknowledgements The Centre for Conflict Resolution (CCR), Cape Town, South Africa, wishes to thank the government of Denmark for supporting this regional seminar, which took place in Johannesburg, South Africa, on 12 and 13 April CCR would also like to thank the other funders of its Africa Programme: the governments of the Netherlands and Sweden; the United Kingdom s (UK) Department for International Development (DFID); the Swiss Agency for Development and Co-operation (SDC); the Rockefeller Brothers Fund (RBF); TrustAfrica; and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC). About the Co-organisers: The Centre for Conflict Resolution, Cape Town The Centre for Conflict Resolution is based in Cape Town, South Africa. Established in 1968, the organisation has wide-ranging experience of conflict interventions in the Western Cape and southern Africa and is working increasingly on a pan-continental basis to strengthen the conflict management capacity of Africa s regional organisations, as well as on policy research on the United Nations (UN) role in Africa; South Africa s role in Africa; African Union (AU)/New Partnership for Africa s Development (NEPAD) relations; and HIV/AIDS and Human Security. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Southern Africa Regional Office Based in Tshwane, South Africa, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Southern Africa Regional Office, was created in March 1998 as part of the overall OHCHR regional strategy for Africa, and aims to address common concerns relating to the southern African sub-region. The organisation seeks to respond to the long-term objective of enhancing the capacity of African sub-regional organisations and governments, national institutions and civil society groups to promote and protect human rights. The office covers 15 countries in the region: Angola, Botswana, Comoros, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The Rapporteurs Ms Abiola Ayinla is a Legal Expert at the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights in Banjul, Gambia. Dr Mireille Affa a Mindzie is a Senior Project Officer at the Centre for Conflict Resolution, Cape Town, South Africa. CHILDREN AND ARMED CONFLICTS IN AFRICA 5 Executive Summary The Centre for Conflict Resolution (CCR) in Cape Town, South Africa, in collaboration with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Southern Africa Regional Office, in Tshwane, South Africa, organised a regional seminar on Strengthening the African Union Framework for the Protection of Children Affected by Armed Conflict in Johannesburg, South Africa, on 12 and 13 April A central aim of the seminar was to ensure the rights of war-affected children by identifying and discussing concrete avenues of enforcing, reporting on, and monitoring children s rights in conflict and post-conflict situations on the continent. The seminar provided a forum for 20 participants, including human and child rights experts; representatives from the African Union (AU) and the United Nations (UN) system; academics; and civil society groups to shed light on, and offer responses to, the specific needs of children affected by armed conflict (CAAC) in Africa. The meeting investigated the contribution of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC) of 1990 to a rights-based approach for the protection of war-affected children. The seminar generated policy debates and recommendations exploring the avenues of collaboration between the UN mechanisms for the protection of children and the AU Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC). It further examined the role of various AU organs in monitoring children s rights in conflict and post-conflict situations, and their linkages to specific child rights advocacy and monitoring mechanisms. The following four key themes were addressed during the seminar: 1. Overview of the Normative Framework for the Protection of Children Affected by Armed Conflicts in Africa; 2. Mechanisms for Advocating and Monitoring the Rights of Children Affected by Armed Conflict in Africa; 3. Opportunities and Challenges for Ensuring the Rights of Children Affected by Armed Conflict in Africa; and 4. Strategies for Strengthening Collaboration among Advocating and Monitoring Mechanisms for Children s Rights in Conflict and Post-Conflict Situations. 1. Overview of the Normative Framework for the Protection of Children Affected by Armed Conflicts in Africa For many years, the protection of war-affected children has been an important item on the agenda of the international community. Both the UN and the AU have adopted several conventions, charters and protocols to address the needs of war-affected children. Today, Africa has the largest number of child soldiers. In 2004, it was estimated that up to 100,000 African children, some as young as nine, were involved in armed conflicts. The instruments ratified to protect children victims of violent conflict cover different areas of law such as the humanitarian aspects of child protection; its social and criminal aspects prohibiting the involvement of children in armed conflict; and its broader international human rights law component. In the latter case, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), its Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflicts, and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child constitute the legal backbone of the protection of waraffected children in Africa. The co-existence of universal and regional norms provides windows of opportunity for the effective protection of children living in conflict and post-conflict situations across the continent. 6 CHILDREN AND ARMED CONFLICTS IN AFRICA 2. Mechanisms for Advocating and Monitoring the Rights of Children Affected by Armed Conflict in Africa In order to achieve effective protection of war-affected children in Africa, a broad range of institutions and mechanisms exist which have the potential to advocate, report on, and monitor the rights of children caught up in violent conflict. At the UN level, the groundbreaking Graça Machel Study on the Impact of Armed Conflict on Children of 1996 the ten-year review of which provided an opportunity to renew international commitment towards children has given rise to several mechanisms on the continent. Besides UN mechanisms, various institutions established under the AU also have the potential to contribute to the protection of children in Africa. The African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child is the main continental treaty body mandated to promote and protect children s rights in Africa. Key to the effective implementation of its mandate is its close link to the broader AU human rights, political, and peace and security architecture. Mainstreaming child rights within the AU programmes and policies is another condition for concrete protection. In addition, the rationalisation of the regional protection of CAAC appears to be a significant prerequisite for strengthened collaboration between continental and universal mechanisms, and of these mechanisms with Africa s Regional Economic Communities (RECs) such as the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC), and civil society organisations (CSOs). 3. Opportunities and Challenges for Ensuring the Rights of Children Affected by Armed Conflict in Africa The multiple norms adopted and the mechanisms established to address the issue of war-affected children are implemented in various conflict and post-conflict situations across Africa. In countries such as Uganda, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), reporters and monitors have been permitted, with relative success, to watch abuses closely, to identify perpetrators of child rights violations and, in some instances, to prepare the way for post-conflict reintegration and rehabilitation of children. In Liberia and Burundi, child disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) processes have been implemented despite several challenges. In Sierra Leone, transitional justice mechanisms established after the ten-year conflict between 1991 and 2000 have taken into account the vulnerability and specific needs of children. All the cases presented at the Johannesburg seminar exposed the absence of the AU in these processes and raised the question of the continental organisation s commitment to the issue of protecting the rights of children living in conflict and post-conflict situations. 4. Strategies for Strengthening Collaboration among Advocating and Monitoring Mechanisms for the Rights of Children in Conflict and Post-Conflict Situations In order to enhance collaboration among the various international and regional frameworks for the protection of war-affected children, strategies were identified to raise awareness among all the relevant instruments and mechanisms; to promote collaboration with the AU Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child; to strengthen the relationship between the UN and African civil society in monitoring children s rights in conflict and post-conflict situations; or to highlight the need for action at national, regional and continental levels aimed at the protection of children in armed conflict. CHILDREN AND ARMED CONFLICTS IN AFRICA 7 Policy Recommendations Despite the establishment of comprehensive normative and institutional frameworks at the national, regional and international levels, the need remains to address seriously the situation of children in armed conflict in Africa, and to engage actively in the era of application that the UN has demanded. There is an urgent need for African responses to the problem of children affected by violent conflict. The seminar therefore adopted the following 10 recommendations: 1. The existing international and regional instruments and mechanisms for monitoring and reporting situations of war-affected children should be widely disseminated, harmonised and strengthened. Outdated normative and institutional frameworks should undergo review and in-depth reform in order to ensure that these frameworks meet the needs for which they were established. Advocacy for the complete ratification of the AU Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child should also be pursued. 2. The UN should strengthen its relationship with African civil society and networks of local partners should be developed. UN monitoring mechanisms should further address all actors and bodies that can have an impact on the protection of children in armed conflict, and not only those who are already convinced of its necessity. Moreover, UN interventions should abide by the do not harm principle and apply more discretion in monitoring children s rights. 3. Monitoring and reporting on the situation of children in armed conflict in Africa require strengthened dialogue with relevant actors involved in the protection of war-affected children on the continent. Governments in particular must be held responsible, as they remain the primary duty-bearers that can be held accountable. Comprehensive national systems for child protection should be developed; and African governments should be more involved in the provision of services to children affected by conflict. A dual approach to tackling the issue of children affected by conflict should also be adopted, by linking the two important dimensions of the legal perspective and the conflict-resolution perspective. Countries emerging from conflict should shoulder the primary responsibility of building a culture of peace and respect for human rights to strengthen democracy. Perpetrators of abuses against children should be appropriately indicted, judged and, if necessary, sanctioned. 4. All actors involved governments, international agencies and civil society actors have a responsibility to build a protective environment for children in armed conflict. Specifically, a holistic approach needs to be adopted, which should not only focus on child soldiers but also consider all violations suffered by children, especially the six grave violations identified by the UN Special Representative of the Secretary- General for Children and Armed Conflict (SRSG/CAAC), Radhika Coomaraswamy from Sri Lanka. Furthermore, the focus of monitoring by UN mechanisms should be extended to conflict areas where child rights violations are not currently reported to the UN Security Council. 5. Steps should be taken towards filling the gap that exists between reporting situations of war-affected children and the necessary action of bringing appropriate responses to the information documented. Another gap to be addressed relates to the political will at the international and national levels in childprotection programmes, and the resources that are made available. It is necessary to link the monitoring and reporting mechanisms that have been established to the issue of resources. 6. At the level of the AU and RECs, the Johannesburg seminar highlighted the need for a continental agenda on children in armed conflict, and for the AU and RECs to make their presence felt on the ground, including in Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR) and child DDR programmes. In that sense, regional organs such as the AU Commission, especially through its specific directorates for Peace 8 CHILDREN AND ARMED CONFLICTS IN AFRICA and Security; Political Affairs; Social Affairs; the Peace and Security Council; the Economic, Social and Cultural Council (ECOSOCC); the African Court of Justice and Human Rights; and sub-regional bodies, should be widely publicised in order that they can be more effectively and efficiently used to protect children. Mechanisms such as the Special Representative of the Chairperson of the AU Commission for the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict, Mame Madior Boye from Senegal, should be actively involved in the protection of children. The AU Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child should also adopt a precise and coherent programme on the issue of war-affected children. The Committee should continue to play its role of safeguarding child rights on the continent effectively by building strategic partnerships as well as implementing all the procedures of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child to ensure the protection of war-affected children on the continent. 7. The Committee further needs to share best practices with the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights and learn from its past and present constraints. The Committee could, for example, advocate the nomination of a Special Rapporteur on Children in Armed Conflict, who could serve as a focal point on the question of the protection of war-affected children on the continent. Considering the diverse backgrounds of the 11 members of the Committee, the capacities of the experts should be strengthened, especially with regard to conflict resolution and peacebuilding issues, and specifically on the question of war-affected children. 8. Lessons learned from past DDR programmes should be taken into account and reintegration processes should encompass all children affected by conflicts, with a special focus on girl children. Reintegration should also be linked to broader economic recapitalisation and the development of post-conflict countries, as well as to the promotion of democracy, a culture of human rights and peace education. 9. African civil society should establish independent monitoring mechanisms with regard to war-affected children by, among other themes, developing and building the capacity of a critical mass of child rights activists on the continent. A non-governmental organisations group attached to the AU Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child should be created. It was also deemed important to engage media and other sources of information in the field, to ensure the prevention of abuses as well as the effective monitoring of and reporting on conflict and post-conflict situations affecting children. 10. Finally, participants highlighted the need to harmonise, strengthen and define modes of collaboration between the regional and international frameworks for the protection of children in armed conflict with regard to the continued proliferation of small arms and light weapons (SALW). The AU, specifically through its Peace and Security Council, should ensure that African states implement the relevant regional and international instruments to prohibit the illicit proliferation, circulation and trafficking of these weapons. Furthermore, civil society actors should be involved in monitoring the transfer of small arms and light weapons and their impact on children. From left to right: Ms Thelma Ekiyor, Centre for Conflict Resolution, Cape Town, South Africa; Dr Moussa Sissoko, African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, Bamako, Mali; Mr David Mugawe, African Child Policy Forum, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Dr Chantal Niyokindi, ITEKA Burundian Human Rights League, Bujumbura, Burundi; Ms Sarah Norton-Staal, UN Children s Fund, Nairobi, Kenya; Mr Gilbert Onyango, Child Rights Advisory Documentation and Legal Centre, Nairobi, Kenya CHILDREN AND ARMED CONFLICTS IN AFRICA 9 1. Introduction The Centre for Conflict Resolution (CCR) in Cape Town, South Africa, in collaboration with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Southern Africa Regional Office, in Tshwane, South Africa, organised a regional seminar on Strengthening the African Union (AU) Framework for the Protection of Children Affected by Armed Conflict in Johannesburg, South Africa, on 12 and 13 April A central aim of the seminar was to ensure the rights of children affected by armed conflict (CAAC) by identifying and discussing concrete avenues of enforcing, reporting on, and monitoring children s rights in conflict and post-conflict situations on the continent. The seminar created a forum for 20 participants to analyse and debate critically the opportunities offered by international and regio
Recommended
View more...
We Need Your Support
Thank you for visiting our website and your interest in our free products and services. We are nonprofit website to share and download documents. To the running of this website, we need your help to support us.

Thanks to everyone for your continued support.

No, Thanks
SAVE OUR EARTH

We need your sign to support Project to invent "SMART AND CONTROLLABLE REFLECTIVE BALLOONS" to cover the Sun and Save Our Earth.

More details...

Sign Now!

We are very appreciated for your Prompt Action!

x