On 1 - 2 November 2012, the Second Southern Africa Conference on child rights will be held at the Pan African Parliament in Midrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. The theme for this year's conference is: Building child rights movements in Southern Africa.
The Conferenceis an initiative that is building up on the momentum that was created by a similar event in 2011. The latter meeting brought about child rights stakeholders from Southern African countries. The participant’s ranged from government officials in line ministries, members of the child rights sector, legislators, academia and the children themselves. This conference was the first of its kind in ensuring that there is coordination at the regional level. One of the key outputs of the meeting was a resolution to set up a Southern African child rights network. Following the meeting held in May 2012, the forum was officially called the Child Rights Network for Southern Africa (CRNSA). The initial CRNSA meeting went further to coming up with a work-plan and it is in the context of this plan that this upcoming conference is located. This upcoming conference is therefore a product of the initial conference held in 2011 while it is contributing significantly to the realization of the work plan set by CRNSA.
Child rights advocacy can be said to have been weak in the past years at both country and regional level. This assertion can be attested by the countries’ inconsistencies in international and regional reporting to treaty bodies like the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child Committee and the African Charter on the Rights and the Welfare of the Child Committee of Experts. Furthermore, weak advocacy in the child rights sector can be noted by lack of domestication of the ratified treaties by most Southern African countries consequently causing children’s issues not to be adequately provided for in the law, resource allocation and policy making.
Such weak advocacy for children’s rights at country level subsequently affects regional efforts. Regional advocacy is as strong as national advocacy initiatives. It is in this light that CRNSA has been set. The major purpose of CRNSA is to spearhead all child rights advocacy at regional to international levels. For this to happen, there is need to have defined, strong and established child rights networks. This upcoming conference seeks to ensure that country networks are well established to effectively coordinate advocacy initiatives in the countries. This will then have a ripple effect of having a strong child rights network at regional level through CRNSA.
Build up activities
In line with the CRNSA workplan, the build up to the conference will focus on identifying and conducting capacity assessments for the country child rights networks in SADC countries. These consultations will see the CRNSA chairperson and other team members meeting child rights networks and organizations in some identified countries. A comprehensive report will be compiled on the state of child rights networks in Southern Africa. This report will be presented at the commencement of the upcoming conference to inform deliberations. It should be noted that not all countries will be visited. Some of the countries identified for the consultations are:
- South Africa
The remaining countries in the region will be visited for consultations in 2013.
Objectives of the conference
The conference seeks to achieve the following:
- To publicly launch the Child Rights Network for Southern Africa (CRNSA).
- To come up with mechanisms of strengthening the child rights movement in Southern Africa.
- To develop a child rights advocacy strategy for southern Africa
To provide a platform for children to express their views on issues affecting them.
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