Strengthening Child Protection In AU Peace Support Operations In East And West Africa

Save the Children is the world’s leading independent organisation for children; working in almost 120 countries around the world. Our vision is a world in which every child attains the right to survival, protection, development and participation. Across all of our work, we pursue several core values including accountability, ambition, collaboration, creativity and integrity.

Save the Children started training military personnel, with a focus on pre-deployment training of peacekeepers, in Child Rights and Child Protection in Africa in 1998. Within this context, Save the Children’s focus has been on training national military personnel and peacekeepers on Child Rights and Protection. Since the inception of these projects 11 years ago, approximately 91,156 military elements have been trained or sensitised, among which 29,760 peacekeepers and a total of 1,579 trainers were also trained. In 2012, Save the Children collaborated with the East Africa Standby Force to develop a training curriculum for peacekeepers in an strategic direction to ensure African Union Troops are capacitated to prevent and respond to abuse, exploitation, separation and all forms of violence as part of their protection of civilian mandate. This curriculum builds into the AU’s Strategy on the Operationalization of the Standby Forces in all five sub-regions on the continent with the intention that each Region will be equipped to respond to conflict with a Standby Force consisting of the Police, Army and Civilian components.

Africa hosts some of the most devastating and lengthy conflicts in the world and has experienced more conflicts in the last 50 years than any other region. In every armed conflict, children risk being physically and psychologically harmed as a consequence of being targets and victims of violence. With the changing nature of conflict in Africa, from interstate to intrastate conflict, children are increasingly among the most affected. With the transition of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) into the African Union (AU) in 2002, Africa gained a politically significant body prepared to address the various complex   peace and security concerns affecting the continent. In the recent past, the AU has shown greater commitment to supporting peace and security with the AU Mission in Somalia and the Regional Task Force in South Sudan to respond to LRA affected areas and most recently the AU’s intervention in Mali.

Through this project, Save the Children intends to achieve sustainable action through the embedment of child protection within the AU Structures and response to conflict. The benchmark of effectiveness is based on the working relationship developed with the East Africa Standby Force, ECOWAS in West Africa and the AU Peace and Security Department in Addis. This ensures the coherence and commitment needed to strengthen child protection interventions in AU Missions and streamline the support to the AU as they structure the peace and security architecture for the continent. The project is also working to develop strategic partnerships with other organizations supporting the Peace and Security Department and take the lead in fostering collaboration and a standardised approach towards capacity building and training of peace support operations personnel in sub-Saharan Africa.

Save the Children recognizes this project as a crucial step towards lasting change for children affected by conflict, with a vision to reducing the number of boys and girls recruited into armed groups, victims of gender and sexual violence and separation from families.

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