The African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC or Children’s Charter) is a comprehensive instrument that sets out rights and defines universal principles and norms for the status of children on the African continent. The ACRWC originated because the member states of the African Union believed that the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child missed out on important socio-cultural and economic realities particular to Africa. Thus, this text was adapted to Africa and referenced specific values and experiences in relation to the rights of the child. Compared to the UN Convention, the ACRWC assigns more and expanded rights for children, e.g. concerning children living under apartheid, harmful practices against the girl child, such as female genital mutilation, internal conflicts and displacement, the rights of children of imprisoned mothers, poor and unsanitary living conditions, the role of the family in adoption and fostering, and the duties and responsibilities of the child towards the family and community.
In July 2001, the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child was formed to promote and protect the rights established by the ACRWC, to implement these rights in practice, and to interpret the dispositions of the ACRWC as required by party states, AU institutions, or all other institutions recognized by AU or by a member state. The Committee consists of 11 members and meets twice each year, usually in May and November in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The Committee reports to the Assembly of Heads of State and the African Union every two years.
Countries which have ratified the Children’s Charter must submit initial reports within two years of ratification of the Charter to the Committee of Experts, and every three years thereafter. To date, the fulfillment of this obligation is poor. The country reports so far received are made accessible here: http://www.africa-union.org/root/AU/Conferences/2008/may/sa/child/documents.htm
The ACRWC also contains an individual complaints procedure. Any individual, group, or NGO recognised by the AU, by a member state or by the UN may file a complaint to the Committee of Experts.
The African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child.
Adopted in 1990. Entry into force on 29 November 2005.
Link to the full text: http://www.achpr.org/english/_info/child_en.html
As of 1 December 2009, the following 45 African States have ratified the Charter:
Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Chad, Comoros, The Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Egypt, Ethiopia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, The Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, South Africa, The Sudan, The United Republic of Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe