African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child: State Reporting Procedure

Applies to/Se aplica a

State practice
State law
Individual cases
For Urgent Action
Only under 18-s
A

Summary

The African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC) draws its mandate from articles 32-46 of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC). It was established in July 2001. Part of the mandate of the ACERWC is the monitoring the implementation of the ACRWC. To do so, the ACERWC receives and examines the reports submitted by State parties on the measures they have adopted to give effect to the provisions of the Charter as well as the progress achieved in the exercise of the rights recognised (article 43). Initial State reports were supposed to be submitted within two years of entry into force of the ACRWC, and periodic reports every three years thereafter. An overview of the status of state reports in available on the website of the ACERWC at http://acerwc.org/state-reports/. The due dates of initial reports are available at http://www.africa-union.org/child/Due%20date%20of%20Submission%20of%20Re....
The ACERWC examines a State report in a public plenary session, based on information included in the report of the State, and other information received by NGOs. Following the examination of the State report, the Committee of Experts produces Concluding Observations and Recommendations, which should be implemented by the State party. The Concluding Observations and Recommendations are also included in the report of the ACERWC to the AU Assembly of Heads of State and Government.

So far, conscientious objection to military service has not been addressed by the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child. The issue of recruitment of minors has only briefly been addressed during the examination of the report of Uganda.

1. Likely results from the use of this mechanism

During the examination of State reports, the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child also draws on information provided by other AU agencies and by NGOs, and can raise issues based on information received from NGOs. The ACERWC might then include the issue in its Concluding Observations and make recommendations to the State concerned. The Concluding Observations and Recommendation will be transmitted to the State concerned and form part of the Committee of Experts' report to the AU Assembly of Heads of State and Government.

2. To which States does this mechanism apply?

The mechanism applies to those States that have ratified the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child. A table of ratifications of the ACRWC is available at http://acerwc.org/ratifications/.

3. Who can submit information?

According to rule 69 of the Rules of Procedure of the ACERWC, “the Committee may invite the …. NGOs and CSOs, in conformity with Article 42 of the Children's Charter, to submit to it reports on the implementation of the Children's Charter and to provide it with expert advice in areas falling within their scope of activity

4. When to submit information?

Once a State party has submitted its State report to the ACERWC, the report is a public document and will be made available on the website of the ACERWC at http://acerwc.org/state-reports/. It is important to submit an NGO report – either a joint NGO report, or an individual NGO report highlighting specific issues – not too long after the publication of the State report, but certainly before the Pre-Session Working Group that will consider the State report.

5. Any special advice for making a submission to this mechanism?

The ACERWC has so far not issued guidelines for NGO reports. However, the Committee of Experts has elaborated guidelines and main themes for State reports, and it is useful to structure an NGO report around the same themes (or some of them). The themes are:

  • General measures of implementation of the ACRWC
  • Definition of the child
  • General principles
  • Civil rights and freedoms
  • Family environment and alternative care
  • Health and welfare
  • Education, leisure and cultural activities
  • Special protection measures
  • Responsibilities of the child.

Issues of conscientious objection to military service and related discrimination, and of recruitment, can be raised under the ACRWC, especially in relation to article 9 (Freedom of Thought, Conscience, and Religion), Article 11 (Education), and Article 22 (Armed Conflicts) of the Charter. Article 22 of the ACRWC states that States “shall … refrain in particular from recruiting any child”.

It can be useful to draft suggested questions to be posed by the Committee of Experts, organised by theme and relevant charter provision and include these in the NGO report.

Participation in the pre-session Working Group

Although the pre-session Working Group meets in private, the Committee of Experts can invite representatives of NGOs with Observer Status at the ACERWC to participate in it. It is therefore important to state in the cover letter when submitting the NGO report that you wish to participate in the pre-session Working Group. However, this is not a guarantee that you will be able to do so. It is also possible to lobby members of the Committee of Experts informally outside of the formal sessions of the pre-session Working Group.

Lobbying before and during the session

It is advisable to not only submit a report, but to engage with the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child prior, during, and after the consideration of the State's report. Following receipt of the State's report, the Committee of Experts appoints a Rapporteur from among its members, and it can be useful to engage with the Rapporteur responsible for your State's report, who will examine the State's report and information submitted by NGOs, and prepare a list of issues.

NGOs with Observer Status are allowed to attend the public meeting of the Committee of Experts, but are not allowed to speak.

6. What happens to the submission (how long will it take)?

After the ACERWC receives a State's report, it will be published on its website at http://acerwc.org/state-reports/. The Committee of Experts will also assign a Rapporteur from among its members, who is responsible for the examination of the State's report and other information received, including information submitted by NGOs. The Rapporteur will draft a list of issues for discussion at the pre-session Working Group, which will decide on the list of issues.

The examination of the State's report happens during a public session of the Committee of Experts in the form of a dialogue with the representative(s) of the State concerned. NGOs with Observer Status can attend the session, but are not allowed to speak. Following the dialogue, the Committee of Experts meets in a closed session to discuss its Concluding Observations and Recommendations.

The Concluding Observations and Recommendations are transmitted to the State concerned, and are included in the report of the Committee of Experts to the AU Assembly of Heads of State and Government. They are also published on the website of the ACERWC.

7. History of the use of this mechanism

This mechanism has so far not been used for conscientious objection to military service. Issues of recruitment of minors have so far not been raised systematically by the ACERWC, although they were raised during the examination of the report of Uganda, and in the Concluding Observations and Recommendations on Uganda.

Contact Details: 
The African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child Commission of the African Union African Union Headquarters Social Affairs Department P.O. Box 3243 W21 K19 Addis Ababa Ethiopia Tel. +251-1-551 35 22 Fax +251-1-553 57 16 Email cissem@africa-union.org Website: http://acerwc.org/
Further Reading: 
Concluding Observations and Recommendations
Title Date
Recommendations and Observations sent to the Government of the Republic of Uganda 28/03/2011

Article 22 : ARMED CONFLICTS:
The Committee observes that the Report doesn’t provide enough data on the status of child soldiers in Uganda, it recommends consequently that more information should be mentioned in the next reports.