Dr Agnes Akosua Aidoo is a specialist in policy advocacy on children’s and women’s rights. She was Vice-Chairperson and Rapporteur of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (2007-2013). She holds a Ph.D. in History and Social Anthropology from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). For 10 years she worked as a Lecturer in History at the University of Cape Coast, Ghana and Assistant Professor of History and African Studies at UCLA.

Dr Aidoo has had 21 years work experience in the United Nations in Africa, South Asia and Latin America. She is a former Gender and Social Policy Adviser at the UN Economic Commission for Africa and a former UNICEF global Senior Adviser on Women and Girls’ Development and UNICEF Representative to Tanzania. She has carried out research, published and provided advisory services to governments, United Nations System and NGOs on early childhood development, poverty, vulnerability and exclusion of children, youth and women, and poverty reduction strategies in Africa. She is a Trustee of the Ghana National Partnership for Children’s Trust that focuses on education, health and sanitation for disadvantaged children. She has served on the Advisory Board of the Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana, and supported the Africa Network of International Women’s Empowerment Research Consortium and Network for Women’s Rights in Ghana (NETRIGHT).

Mr Per Engebak was UNICEF’s Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa from 2003 to 2009. Prior to this, Mr Engebak was UNICEF’s Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean from 1999 to 2003. He also served as UNICEF Representative in the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia in 1997 where he also held responsibility for UNICEF’s Liaison Office to the Organisation for African Unity (OAU) and the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).

Mr Engebak received his Engineering degree in 1968 from the Oslo Engineering School in Norway. He embarked on an international career in 1973 with a Swedish company providing engineering consultancies in Ethiopia, Nigeria and Mexico.He began his career with UNICEF in October 1975. Throughout the years, he worked in several countries such as Sudan, Indonesia, Guatemala and Ethiopia until his transfer to UNICEF Headquarter in New York, USA, in 1994.

Prof Kamel Filali is a professor and a researcher in International Human Rights Law and Humanitarian Law. He teaches at the University of Constantine, Algeria; at the International Institute of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France; and at the National Superior School of Magistrates in Algiers, Algeria.

From 2003 until 2011, Prof Filali served as a member of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. He acted as Vice Chair from 2007 to 2011. He has been a member of the Algerian National Advisory Committee for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights since 2003. He is also the Vice Chair of the African Union Commission of International Law, which deals with the progressive development of international law and its codification.

Professor Filali is a practicing lawyer and pays particular attention to cases involving children in conflict with the law before the Algerian Juvenile Tribunal and Courts. He is also registered to intervene as an Attorney at law in Civil and Criminal cases before the Supreme Court of Algeria. As a lawyer he acts as an international consultant on Algerian law and judiciary especially on the laws regulating family affairs.

In addition, he is the author of several articles on human rights and the rights of the child. Furthermore, he is active in associations through training of trainers to protect children, especially children with disabilities and those in conflict with the law.

Prof Filali holds a Ph.D. in International Law and Relations, from the University of Miami, Florida.

Dr Najat Maalla M’jid served as a ‘Special Rapporteur on the Sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography’ for two terms from 2008 to 2014.

Dr Maalla M’jid is a medical doctor in Paediatrics, who has been involved for the past three decades in the protection of vulnerable children. She is a member of the Moroccan National Council on Human Rights, and the founder of the non-governmental organisation BAYTI, the first programme addressing the situation of children living and working in the streets in Morocco.

Dr Najat Maalla M’jid also works as Expert-Consultant for national and international projects, strategies and policies relating to child rights’ promotion and protection. She has notably been involved in the drafting of studies on the condition of children victims of violence, abuse and exploitation; children living in the streets; institutionalised children; unaccompanied migrant children; children workers; children deprived of parental care, etc. She participated in the development of national policies on the protection of the child, and has worked with several governments, non-governmental and inter-governmental organisations. Dr NajatMaallaM’jid also works as lecturer in Moroccan and international universities on child rights protection, promotion, programming and monitoring, as well as social and development policies. She is also involved in the training of social workers, law enforcement, teachers, judges, and medical staff.

She is a member of several international non-governmental organisations and networks working for children’s rights. She has received numerous international awards dedicated to children’s rights.

Prof Benyam Dawit Mezmur is the Chairperson of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Rights (CRC) and Vice-Chair of the African Committee on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC). Prior to that he served as Chairperson of the ACERWC (2010-2014) and Vice Chairperson of the CRC.

Prof Mezmur is an Associate Professor of Law at the Community Law Centre of the University of Western Cape (UWC), South Africa, and a Lecturer and Associate Professor at the Faculty of Law of UWC and the Addis Ababa University respectively. He lectures child rights, the rights of persons with disabilities, and the international protection of human rights at post-graduate level.

He worked for The African Child Policy Forum (ACPF) from 2003 to 2005, as a Legal Officer. Professor Benyam has published a number of articles on children's rights in Africa and internationally, and has lectured/served fellowships among others at the University of Antwerp (Belgium), Ghent University (Belgium), Abo Akademi (Finland), Utrecht University (The Netherlands), Groningen University (The Netherlands), and Central European University (Hungary).

He received his Bachelor’s degree in law (LLB) from the Addis Ababa University, a Master’s degree (LLM) from the University of Pretoria (Centre for Human Rights), South Africa, and a Doctorate in Law (LLD) from the University of the Western Cape, South Africa.

Dr Hamid Tabatabai is a Senior Development Economist who had a long career at the International Labour Office (ILO), both in the headquarters and in the field. He joined the International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC) in 2002. Prior to that, he was working as a Senior Labour Market Specialist in Zimbabwe.

He has an extensive experience in child labour issues with his current research focussing on cash transfers and social security issues. He has authored and edited a variety of publications, including books, articles and conference papers.

He holds a Ph.D. in Economic Development from Cornell University, New York, USA.

Mr Jean-Baptiste Zoungrana was the Chairman of the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC) from 2005 to 2008. During his tenure as Chairman, the ACERWC recorded significant progress.

Mr Zoungrana also serves on the Board of Directors of the International Bureau for Children’s Rights (IBCR). At the national level (Burkina Faso), he is active in the promotion of children’s rights, notably in the campaign against Female Genital Cutting (FGC) where he is active in his capacity as a member of the National Committee against Female Circumcision.

He has technical expertise in the development of plans and programmes in support of children, in the production of reports on the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and its Optional Protocols, the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC), as well as on the alternative reports on the implementation of the CRC and of the ACRWC, and in other areas related to children.

Mr Albert Essien is the former CEO of the ECOBANK Group (2014-2015). Prior to that, he was the Deputy Group Chief Executive Officer and Group Executive Director for Corporate and Investment Bank, including ECOBANK international Offices comprising France, London, Dubai and China. Mr Essien has held a number of key appointments, including Regional Head for the Rest of Anglophone West Africa (excluding Nigeria) and the Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) regions. He spearheaded ECOBANK’s expansion into the East and Southern Africa region, culminating in the establishment of subsidiaries in 7 countries (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Zambia, and Malawi) and a Representative Office in South Africa.

Mr Essien started his banking career with the National Investment Bank in Accra, Ghana. He joined the Corporate Banking Department of ECOBANK Ghana in 1990. In 1997, he became Country Risk Manager. He was appointed Deputy Managing Director in 2001 and became Managing Director in December 2002. Mr Albert ESSIEN has a degree in Economics from the University of Ghana (graduating in 1979) and is an alumnus of the Executive Development Program of INSEAD (France/Singapore). He is also an honorary fellow of the Chartered Institute of Bankers, Ghana.