Moving Africa from Rhetoric to Accountability
Africa is a region of contrasts. The last two decades have witnessed robust economic growth and dramatic progress in health and education in many countries. African governments have ratified most of the relevant international and regional human rights instruments and made encouraging progress in domesticating them. A number of countries have harmonised, or are in the process of harmonising their national laws with the Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC), and other major international institutions concerned with children.
Many are making impressive efforts to improve the social and economic well being of children, through, for example, universal or improved access to health and education. Still life for millions of Africa’s children remains hard, insecure and fragile.
Almost all political leaders profess their love for children and their governments’ commitment to their cause; to reinforce this, many bullet long lists of ratifications. But the promises ensuing from ratification have not been met and do not look like they will soon be met.
The grounds for optimism are there. A number of poor African countries have shown that they can adopt child-friendly policies despite the fact they do not have oil, diamonds, or other precious minerals. Action and progress are possible even at low levels of development.
The twenty-first century must therefore be an era of accountability for the lives of Africa’s children.