In 1990, the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) adopted the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (hereafter referred to as the African Children’s Charter). To date, 50 countries have ratified the Charter, thereby demonstrating their commitment to respect, protect and promote the rights of children. Three decades after its adoption, the African Children’s Charter remains one of the most ratified regional treaties and performs a pivotal role in the improvement of the lives of children around the continent.
The 30th anniversary of the African Children’s Charter provides a rare opportunity for us to put children’s rights high on the national, regional and international agendas; evaluate the legal, political, social and cultural status of children’s rights; and identify positive measures that should be adopted to strengthen awareness, appreciation, and tangible, not tokenistic, enjoyment of children’s rights across the globe. As the African Children’s Charter turns 30 years, it is vital for CSOs, academic institutions, research centres, the courts and other key players to take stock of the journey that different countries have travelled in the children’s rights sphere; identify key challenges to the fulfilment of the promises enshrined in the Charter; propose potential solutions to some of the pressing challenges confronting children in our time and encourage states to renew their commitments to the enjoyment of rights by all children without discrimination on the basis of any prohibited ground.
The Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, plans to host a two-day symposium on the rights of children as part of efforts to mark thirty years of the Charter. The symposium will provide a platform for child rights practitioners and advocates, academics, government experts, representatives of intergovernmental agencies, treaty monitoring bodies, and researchers in matters relating to children’s rights to reflect on key developments that have been triggered or sustained by the adoption of the African Children’s Charter, as well as to collectively engage on the future of children’s rights on the African continent.
Rationale of the Symposium
Thirty years after the adoption of the African Children’s Charter, the notion of rights for children seems to have been entrenched in regional or international instruments, as well as national legal frameworks. In addition, children have become more visible and actively engaged in various issues that affect them. Research on children’s rights in Africa has also grown exponentially, though some thematic issues have tended to attract more interest than others.
Against this background, the Centre invites children’s rights scholars and practitioners to reflect on some of the enduring challenges that have emerged in the implementation of the charter, as well as on pathways for the implementation of the Charter in the near future. The symposium will be anchored on innovations that will shape the discourse on children’s rights in Africa into the future, especially in light of current developments (such as the Fourth Industrial Revolution) across the continent and the globe.
Call for Papers
Accordingly, the Centre for Human Rights calls for papers that reflect on various aspects of children’s rights in Africa, including;
- General principles of children’s rights and their interaction with specific rights in the African context
In this regard, papers may focus on the intersection between the general principles (equality and non-discrimination; life, survival and development; child participation and the best interests of the child) and specific rights.
- The rights of children in relation to the environment
Papers may focus on climate change governance and children’s rights; smart cities and children’s rights or relevant issues emerging from the SDGs and Agenda 2040.
- Technology and children’s rights
Papers may focus broadly on technology and innovation as enablers of children’s rights, or on the interaction of children an children’s rights with the 4IR. Papers that suggest innovations/innovative approaches to accelerate the implementation of children’s rights are also encouraged.
- Business and children’s rights
Papers may focus on the interface between business and children’s rights, particularly in relation to uniform standard-setting and enforcement of norms in the African region.
- Migration, unaccompanied children and children’s rights in Africa
Papers in this track are expected to analyse the impact of human mobility on the enjoyment of children’s rights in Africa. This includes discussions on issues relating to migration-related detention of children; the rights of unaccompanied minors and proposals on possible interventions to address these challenges.
- Multi-disciplinary perspectives on children’s rights
Papers in this regard may address the interaction of non-legal disciplines (such as public health, psychology, social work, anthropology, amongst others) with children’s rights.
- Development frameworks and children’s rights
Papers in this track may focus on the potential contribution of various development frameworks to children’s rights in the future.
- Individual Complaints Mechanism
Papers in this track should focus on strategies, opportunities and challenges relating to the use of the individual complaints mechanism under the Charter.
Abstracts of no more than 400 words may be submitted to:
Dr Admark Moyo at [email protected], copying
Dr Nkatha Murungi at [email protected] and Alina Miamingi at [email protected]
Abstracts should be submitted by 30 March 2020.
Selection decisions will be communicated by 3 April 2020.
Full draft papers should be submitted to the organisers on 31 May 2020.
The symposium will be held at the Faculty of Law at the University of Pretoria on 18-19 June 2020.
Publication of Papers
Selected papers from the Symposium will, after further peer review, be published in a special edition of the African Human Rights Law Journal.