Harmonisation of Laws on Children: Some Practical Guidance

  • Child Law Reform
Pages: 9
Year of Publication: 2007
Country: Africa
The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the African Child (‘the African Charter’) expect state parties to undertake legislative and other measures to implement the rights enshrined in the treaties. (1) The African Child Policy Forum (ACPF) has published a study, In their best interests: Harmonisation of laws on children in Eastern and Southern Africa, which points to the successes and challenges of bringing national laws into full compliance with the provisions of the CRC and the African Charter. This document aims to provide some practical guidance, based on the findings of the ACPF study and experiences in other countries that are party to the Conventions. It is hoped that it will be useful for governments, NGOs and any other stakeholders involved in national legislative efforts to harmonise domestic laws with provisions in the CRC and the African Charter. These guidelines are a set of practical tips and options for the process of harmonisation. The focus is on compliance with the CRC, because all African states have ratified this convention. The majority – 38 out of 53 – have also ratified the African Charter and should therefore bear in mind both provisions in their harmonisation efforts. For example, CRC, Article 24, paragraph 3, requires states to abolish traditional practices prejudicial to the health of children. Article 21 of the African Charter also calls for the elimination of harmful social and cultural practices, but is much more specific. Customs and practices discriminatory to the child on the grounds of sex or other status, and child marriage or betrothal of girls and boys is prohibited, including the establishment of a minimum age for marriage at eighteen for both genders. (2)  In order to comprehensively ensure children’s rights in Africa, it is important that all African states ratify the African Charter as well as the CRC, which fifteen still have to do. The CRC and the African Charter are complementary to each other and their full implementation will make Africa fit for the African child.
Language: English
Published by: African Child Policy Forum (ACPF)
Author: Jaap E. Doek
Located in: Publications

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