Author: Sloth-Nielsen, J. et al. Year : 2009  Download

On October 23, 2001 an African development strategy known as the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) was launched in Abuja, Nigeria. Although of recent origin, there is already a vast literature on the subject matter of NEPAD. Therefore, this paper is not about NEPAD in general but rather a specific issue within NEPAD processes that has been substantially neglected so far--integrating children’s rights and participation in its work. If the success of NEPAD will “depend on it being owned by African people united in their diversity” it is indeed ill-advised to ignore the voice of 51% of the African people, i.e. children.

This study builds on the very few studies that exist on the inclusion of children in NEPAD: UNICEF’s The young face of NEPAD: Children and young people in the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (2003) and Save the Children Canada’s NEPAD: Are African children the new human capital for trade and development? (2002), prime among them. Specific ways in which children’s organizations and civil society more generally can contribute to the design and implementation of NEPAD’s strategies are outlined. In particular, the role of children’s media and children’s parliaments are highlighted. In the context of the APRM, experiences from the countries which have already subjected themselves to peer review (such as Ghana, Kenya, South Africa and Rwanda) are drawn upon to highlight lessons learned, as well as challenges faced, in including children’s voices and involving them actively in their review process. The need to take advantage of the work and activities children are already leading, to avoid replication and (above all in this field) empty tokenism, is underscored. This issue requires immediate attention and effort, so that significant time is not lost in factoring children’s participation rights into NEPAD.