Conflict situations generally expose civilians, especially children, to heightened risks and violations of their rights. Of the many human rights and humanitarian-law violations that manifest in conflict and crisis, the failure to protect children is particularly concerning.
This fourth meeting of the African Union Coordination Group on Children in Situations of Conflict was organized by the African Union and conducted virtually on 6 April 2022. The aim of the meeting was to discuss advocacy issues outlined in the 2021-2023 work plan.
Participants were drawn from the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, the AUC Political Affairs Peace and Security (PAPS) Department, Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, UNICEF, Save the Children, UNHCR, ICRC, Embassy of Sweden, Dallaire Institute for Children, World Vision International, Plan International and ACCORD. The various topics discussed were continental monitoring, reporting and accountability mechanisms; the continental Children Affected by Armed Conflicts (CAAC) Strategy; and child protection in the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) and AU Peace Support Operations (AU PSOs).
Members of the Coordination Group provided updates on their different engagements on CAAC in Africa. The presentations made by the members of the Coordination Group on CAAC in Africa showed how complex and long-term conflicts have become on the continent. Mozambique, DRC, Somalia, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Sudan, Chad, CAR, Cameroon, Chad, Niger, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Mali and Libya are amongst countries having to deal with CAAC, resulting in grave violations against children. This shows that there is still extensive work to be done by the Coordination Group. Partners of the coordination group have been invited to support the process of developing the Continental Monitoring, Reporting and Accountability Mechanism, which will be validated during the course of 2022. The final continental CAAC strategy will be presented during the Committee’s Open 40th Session in November 2022 for possible adoption.
The policy on mainstreaming Child Protection in the APSA and the policy on Child Protection in AU PSOs were considered during the Peace and Security Council session held in March 2022. The communique was adopted and is now online. A Child Protection Architecture is expected to be in place before the end of 2022, and this will include implementation frameworks on both the APSA and the AU PSO policies. The AUC PAPS will develop the implementation frameworks of the two policies with technical assistance from the coordination group. Through the Training for Peace (TfP) in Africa Programme, ACCORD continues to support the AU’s concerted efforts in reviewing and developing relevant policy documents, and increasing knowledge, policy and capacities for deployments at the AUC and REC/RM strategic levels. The TfP Programme at ACCORD is an initiative funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.