It is a great pleasure to congratulate the African Child Policy Forum on its tenth anniversary. ACPF fulfills an essential role, in Africa and beyond, in raising awareness of the conditions of children throughout the continent and in initiating change of those conditions. Its function as a politically independent, not-for-profit, “think tank” and platform for rights based policy development and dialogue has been invaluable. ACPF work is crucial for children, and, as children embody the future of society, also for the development of society as a whole.
In May 2012, together with Principal Legal Officer Laura Martínez-Mora , I had the privilege of attending the Fifth International Policy Conference for the African Child in Addis Ababa on the theme of: “Inter-country Adoption: Controversies and Alternatives”. This conference gave us a highly appreciated opportunity not only to see the ACPF at work, but also to present the 1993 Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Cooperation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption, to illustrate its operation, and to explain its potential for African States which were not yet bound by this instrument. We are pleased that the resulting Guidelines for Action on Intercountry Adoption of Children in Africa, endorsed by the African Union, contain a firm recommendation that all African States should join the 1993 Hague Convention.
In its recently published paper “African Children and the post-2015 Development Agenda”, ACPF, once again, calls the world’s attention to the continued inadequacy of national child protection systems in Africa. The paper points out that the existing gap is being “exacerbated by globalization which has led to new and emerging protecting needs…”. Practical global instruments such as the 1993 Hague Adoption Convention and the 1996 Hague Protection of Children Convention assist in providing legal protection to children in the increasing number of situations where the causes or need for such protection transcends national boundaries.
ACPF, together with UNICEF and other partners, including the Hague Conference on Private International Law, may wish to encourage African States to join these instruments, and to assist them in the practical implementation thereof. The international, indeed global, dimensions of the legal protection of children present new challenges to Africa and, therefore, to the ACPF, but also offer new hope for greater awareness, in Africa and around the globe, of the plight of Africa´s children.
Bon courage, ACPF, for the next decade of raising awareness and promoting effective legislation, policies and practices throughout Africa for the well-being and protection of children!