CHILD PROTECTION IN EAST AFRICA
Save the Children defines Child Protection as the structures and mechanisms that prevent and respond to violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation affecting children. Save the Children bases its work on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and in this Region’s context, the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child. Both instruments lay the foundation of our work in the region with principles of non-discrimination, child participation, best interest determination and the survival and development of the child at the core of our programs.
Regional integration and regional cooperation are essential for sustainable development and peaceful coexistence. The African Union and the Regional Economic Communities play a key role in strengthening regional integration and cooperation in Africa. The operationalization as well as the institutional capacity of these bodies vary and need to be strengthened in order for them to fulfill their respective mandates and strategic roles in promoting child rights and in particular child protection in the member states across the region.
Sub-Saharan Africa is a region where political instability and insecurity provides the backdrop against which countries strive to implement a framework of good governance and sustainable development. The AU Peace and Security Council as the mandated body to promote peace, security and stability in Africa is gradually developing amid challenges, including shortages of personnel and resources and the organizational and political capacities to meet the needs and requirements necessary to optimally function and to fully implement its mandate.
In lieu of these challenges, Save the Children in collaboration with standby forces and partners engaged in peace support operations has been working to develop a Knowledge and Learning platform with the aim of catalyzing dialogue on conflict, the responses and impact of on the protection of children. The platform aims to address the challenge of insufficient research, data, information and monitoring of Child Protection and the impact of conflict on children before, during and after conflict. As such, this platform will provide opportunities for the regional organizations and stakeholders to utilise the data on children affected by armed conflict. This would enable them to influence better Child Protection interventions, strengthen monitoring systems and develop additional tools for defence and security forces to respond to child rights violations. Additionally it is an avenue to establishing a clear coordination mechanism between Child Protection actors involved in Peace Support Operations to establish data and information collection systems, and a coordinated approach towards Save the Children’s PSO work with the African Union.