Addis Ababa — African Union (AU) Member States have long recognised that "children hold a unique and privileged position in an African society," and even though efforts and progress has been made by countries to improve the lives of their children, the situation still remains dire.
The reality of a number of children unfortunately is far from ideal, as many children in Africa are faced with numerous challenges, such as poverty, disease, malnutrition, homelessness, and armed conflicts, among others.
The African Union Commission (AUC) is committed to improving the conditions of African children. Over the past two decades, the AU has prioritized children's programmes and advocated for the adoption of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC-1990).
In 2001, the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC) was established and the Plan of Action Towards Africa Fit for Children was adopted at the First Pan African Forum on Children in Cairo, Egypt. The Plan of Action comprised the implementation of policies and programmes for the protection and welfare of children in Africa.
Furthermore, the AUC has also been addressing, in line with the Call for Accelerated Action on the Implementation of the Plan of ActionTowards Africa Fit For Children (Call), the area of child protection, specifically Harmful Traditional Practices, and collaborated with different partners to find ways to mitigate and ultimately eliminate these practices and recognize positive cultural practices.
The Pan Conference on Celebrating Courage and Overcoming Harmful Traditions was held from 5-7 October 2011 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to address HTP. In 2007, the Second Pan African Forum on Children was held in Cairo, Egypt, whereby a mid-term review of the Plan of Action Towards Africa Fit for Children was conducted. The review revealed that the implementation of the Plan of Action needed to be scaled up and much more needed to be done.
The main outcome of the Second Forum was the Call for Accelerated Action Towards Africa Fit for Children, which focused on eight (8) priority areas- Access to Education, Access to Health, Enhancing Life Chances, Institutional and Legal Frameworks, Overcoming HIV/AIDS, Child Protection, Child Participation and Monitoring and Evaluation.
The Call was an initiative to urge AU Member States to address the state of children in their respective countries and invest more vigorously in children, particularly those who are most vulnerable.
Further to the recommendations made at the Second Forum, the AUC was tasked to create a Monitoring and Evaluation Framework (M&E Framework) and on which the AU Member States would report on their progress in the implementation of the Call.
The Framework was adopted at the Second AU Conference of Ministers of Social Development, held in Khartoum, Sudan, in November 2010. The M&E Framework was subsequentlyprepared, finalised and sent to AU Member States in 2011. A report on the responses from the M&E Framework will be presented as a key working document at the Third Pan African Forum on Children.
The Third Forum will stand as a landmark- Cairo +10 years after the Forum in 2001, and will take stock of and what AU Member States have done and what they intend to do in terms of more investment in children.
The duty to protect and provide, as enshrined in the ACRWC, obliges State Parties to allocate the necessary resources for the realization of child rights in the continent.Without this, the human rights obligations enshrined in the ACRWC remain promises on paper and will not be translated into wellbeing of children.
It is thus important that governments make concrete investments in children and take steps at all levels to ensure economic and social planning and decision-making and budgetary allocation, with the best interest of children as a primary consideration and hand in hand with investments.
The Forum will just as strongly focus on the responsibility of AU Member States and take stock of their actions. It is therefore for this reason that the main theme selected for the Forum is; 'Accountability for Investment in Children'.