Ms Graça Machel

Ms Graça Machel is the Founder of the Graça Machel Trust, an organisation that advocates for the rights of women and children in Africa, as well as good governance and democracy. She has been a social and political activist over many decades and currently serves in various capacities on different panels, among them the Africa Progress, and the UN Millennium Development Goals Advocates Panels. She is also an Eminent Person of the GAVI Alliance, the UN Foundation, and the UN High Level Panel on the Post 2015 Development Agenda.

Ms Graça Machel also chairs several internationally renowned institutions and organisations such as The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn& Child Health (PMNCH) and the Leadership Council for the Campaign to End Pediatric HIV/AIDS (CEPA). She is co-founder of the Mandela Institute for Development Studies (MINDS) and the Forum of African Women Educationalists (FAWE), an advocacy network which has been a reference in the promotion of girls' education and empowerment in Africa.

As Minister of Education and Culture in Mozambique (1975-1989), she led an inclusive movement which contributed to increased enrolment in primary schools from 40 per cent of children in 1975, to over 90 per cent of boys and 75 per cent of girls by 1989. Ms Graça Machel was President of the National Organization of Children of Mozambique for two decades, the largest children's organisation in Mozambique. More recently, she founded the Institute for Child Development (Zizile IDC) to focus on early childhood development.


Ms Catherine Mbengue
Chairperson of the Administrative Council

Ms Catherine Mbengue is the Chairperson of the Administrative Council of the International Board of Trustees of the African Child Policy Forum (ACPF).

Ms Mbengue has a vast policy and field experience in children’s rights and related issues. Catherine Mbengue is the ECPAT International Coordinator for Africa. Prior to joining ECPAT International, Ms Mbengue served in UNICEF, between 1981 and 2011, in several leadership positions, including as a Senior Advisor to the UNICEF Director, Office of Emergency Programmes, and as a UNICEF Representative in Afghanistan, Burundi, Côte d’Ivoire, Malawi and Mauritania.

She holds two Master’s degrees in Economics and in Political Sciences from the Sorbonne University in Paris.


Dr Assefa Bequele

Dr Assefa Bequele is the Founder and was the first Executive Director of The African Child Policy Forum (ACPF).

He was a Distinguished Fellow of ACPF (2010-2018). He has long years of service in the United Nations system (ILO, Geneva, Asia and Africa). He has devoted most of his professional life to the promotion of the rights and welfare of children, especially the progressive elimination of child labour. He was responsible for many years for the design, development and management of the ILO’s International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC) – the world’s premier technical programme on child labour – and the development of the ILO’s Convention on the Worst Forms of Child Labour (Convention No. 182).

Dr Assefa has extensive experience in university teaching in both Ethiopia and the USA and is the author of many publications and articles on child rights and economic development. Dr Assefa holds a Ph.D. in Economics.


Standing Member : Chairperson of the UNCRC & Chairperson of the ACERWC

Chairperson, United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child

Justice Renate Winter is the Chairperson of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC). She is currently President of the Residual Special Court of Sierra Leone and a judge to the Special Court for Sierra Leone and an expert on family law, juvenile justice systems, women’s justice issues and child labour. She is a founding member of the International Institute for the Rights of the Child (IDE) which is dedicated to the worldwide training of judicial personnel and dissemination of information on children’s rights and former president of the International Association of Youth and Family Court Judges.

She is a contributor to the Draft Model Law on Juvenile Justice, the UN Manual on Juvenile Justice, and the Draft Model Law on Child Victims & Witness Protection. From 1981 to 1996 Justice Winter has been a Judge at the Vienna Youth Court, where she has undertaken projects to help rehabilitate juveniles with problems of drug addiction and mental disability. She has also worked on projects relating to youth and child soldiers for the United Nations, including in numerous African countries as well as in Latin America.

Throughout the 1990s, Justice Winter chaired numerous international conferences on matters relating to juvenile justice and gender-related justice issues.


Chairperson, African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child

Mrs. Goitseone Nanikie Nkwe Ms Goitseone Nanikie Nkwe-Tabane is a Social Worker; she holds a Master of Social Work Degree from the University of Natal (RSA) and a Bachelor of Social Work from the University of Botswana. She has held several positions in the Public Service of Botswana including serving as Policy Advisor for Orphan Care and Home Based Care in the Ministry of Local Government, thereafter serving as Director for Social Services in the same Ministry.

She has also worked as Technical Advisor for Social Welfare in the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare of the Government of Lesotho. Working under the Health Systems Strengthening Project she was instrumental in the establishment of the Child Welfare Unit (of the then) Department of Social Welfare and in the introduction of the Lesotho Child Cash Grant for families caring for OVC. She also contributed to the establishment of the Ministry of Social Development of Lesotho in which the Child Welfare Unit was elevated to a Department.

Ms. Nkwe was instrumental in the establishment of HIV & AIDS mitigation programs; particularly the Orphan and Vulnerable Children’s policies, strategic plans and programs in both Botswana and Lesotho during the heightened fight against the HIV pandemic. She has extensive experience of working with development partners in developing, implementation and monitoring of child welfare programs. She also contributed to the review of the Botswana Children’s Act of 1981 which led to the enactment of the 2009 Children’s Act. She is currently serving as Deputy District Commissioner in Botswana; where she is the administrative head of a Sub-District and is responsible for coordination of district development programs. In this position she also serves as Commissioner for Child Welfare in the District.


Member in Individual Capacity

Dr Agnes Akosua Aidoo

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).

 Prof Kamel Filali

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

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.

Dr Hamid Tabatabai

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.


Prof Benyam Dawit Mezmur

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.


Distinguished Fellows

H.E. Joaquim Chissano

H.E. President Joaquim Chissano was the Chairperson of the International Board of Trustees of The African Child Policy Forum (ACPF) from June 8, 2012 until November 20, 2014. He succeeded Dr Salim Ahmed Salim, who served as a Chairperson from 2003 to 2012.
H.E. JoaquimChissano has long been at the forefront of Mozambican political life. He was Prime Minister of the transitional government that led up to independence in 1975, and thereafter was Minister for Foreign Affairs under independent Mozambique's first President, Samora Machel. He served as the second President of Mozambique from 1986 to 2005, and devoted himself to restoring peace and stability in his country.

Since stepping down as President, H.E. Joaquim Chissano has become an elder statesman and is called upon by international bodies, such as the United Nations, to be an envoy or negotiator. He currently chairs the Joaquim Chissano Foundation and the Forum of Former African Heads of State and Government.

In 2007, he was awarded the inaugural Prize for Achievement in African Leadership by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation.

Dr Salim Ahmed Salim

Dr Salim Ahmed Salim served as the first Chairperson of The International Board of Trustees from September 2003 to June 2012.

Dr Salim held public office in his country, the United Republic of Tanzania, where he served in various capacities for 27 years. He was Prime Minister in 1984-1985 and then served as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence and National Service from 1985 until his election to the helm of the General Secretariat of the Organisation for African Unity (OAU) on 27 July 1989. Dr Salim concluded his term of office as Secretary General of the OAU in September 2001 after serving an unprecedented three terms covering a period of twelve years.

Dr Salim has functions and responsibilities in many other organisations at national, continental and international levels. He has also served in the United Nations (UN), where he was elected as the President of the UN Security Council in January 1976 and went on to serve as the President of the Thirty-Fourth Session of the UN General Assembly in September 1979.

He holds six Doctorates including: Doctor of Laws, the University of Philippines at Los Baños (1980), Doctor of Humanities, University of Maiduguri, Nigeria (1983), Doctor of Civil Law, University of Mauritius (1991), Doctor of Arts in International Affairs, University of Khartoum, Sudan (1995), Doctor of Philosophy in International Relations, University of Bologna, Italy (1996), and Doctor of Laws, University of Cape Town, South Africa (1998).