Chairperson, International Board of Trustees
Mrs. Graça MACHEL is a renowned international advocate for women’s and children’s rights and has been a social and political activist over many decades. She is a former freedom fighter and was the first Education Minister of Mozambique. Her contributions to the Africa Progress Panel, the United Nations Secretary-General’s Millennium Development Goals Advocacy Group and the High-Level Panel on Post 2015 Development Agenda have been widely appreciated. She is a member of The Elders, Girls Not Brides, Board Chair of the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health, African Ambassador for A Promised Renewed, President of SOAS, University of London, Chancellor of the University of Cape Town, Board Chair of the African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes, President of the Foundation for Community Development and Founder of the Zizile Institute for Child Development.
As Founder of the newly established Graça Machel Trust, she has focused more recently on advocating for women’s economic and financial empowerment, education for all, an end to child marriage, food security and nutrition, and promoting democracy and good governance.
Chairperson, African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child
Mrs. Goitseone Nanikie NKWE is the Chairperson of the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC). She has held several positions in the Public Service of Botswana including serving as Policy Advisor for Orphan Care and Home Based Care in the Ministry of Local Government, at which she also served as Director for Social Services. She has also worked as Technical Advisor for Social Welfare in the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare of the Government of Lesotho. Under the Health Systems Strengthening Project, she was instrumental in the establishment of the Child Welfare Unit of the then Department of Social Welfare and in the introduction of the Lesotho Child Cash Grant for families caring for OVC. She also contributed to the establishment of the Ministry of Social Development of Lesotho.
Mrs. Nkwe was instrumental in the establishment of HIV & AIDS mitigation programs; particularly the Orphan and Vulnerable Children’s policies, strategic plans and programs in both Botswana and Lesotho during the heightened fight against the HIV pandemic. She has extensive experience working with development partners in the formulation, implementation and monitoring of child welfare programs. She also contributed to the review of the Botswana Children’s Act of 1981, which led to the enactment of the 2009 Children’s Act. She is currently serving as Deputy District Commissioner in Botswana; where she is the administrative head of a Sub-District and is responsible for coordination of district development programs. In this position she also serves as Commissioner for Child Welfare in the District. Mrs. Nkwe holds a Master of Social Work Degree from the University of Natal (RSA) and a Bachelor of Social Work from the University of Botswana.
Chairperson, United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child
Justice Renate WINTER is the Chairperson of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC). She is President of the Residual Special Court of Sierra Leone and a judge to the Special Court for Sierra Leone and an expert on family law, juvenile justice systems, women’s justice issues and child labour. She is a founding member of the International Institute for the Rights of the Child (IDE), which is dedicated to the worldwide training of judicial personnel and dissemination of information on children’s rights and former president of the International Association of Youth and Family Court Judges.
She is a contributor to the Draft Model Law on Juvenile Justice, the UN Manual on Juvenile Justice, and the Draft Model Law on Child Victims & Witness Protection. From 1981 to 1996, Justice Winter has been a Judge at the Vienna Youth Court where she has undertaken projects to help rehabilitate juveniles with problems of drug addiction and mental disability. She has also worked on projects relating to youth and child soldiers for the United Nations, including in numerous African countries as well as in Latin America. Throughout the 1990s, Justice Winter chaired numerous international conferences on matters relating to juvenile justice and gender-related justice issues. Justice Winter holds a Law Degree as well as a Master Degree in Interpretation from the University of Vienna.
Members in Individual Capacity
Dr. Agnes Akosua AIDOO is a specialist in policy advocacy on children’s and women’s rights. She was Vice-Chairperson and Rapporteur of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (2007-2013). Dr. Aidoo has over two decades experience in the United Nations in Africa, South Asia and Latin America. She is a former Gender and Social Policy Adviser at the UN Economic Commission for Africa and a former UNICEF global Senior Adviser on Women and Girls’ Development and UNICEF Country Representative in Tanzania. She has carried out research, published and provided advisory services to governments, United Nations System and NGOs on early childhood development, poverty, vulnerability and exclusion of children, youth and women, and poverty reduction strategies in Africa.
She is a Trustee of the Ghana National Partnership for Children’s Trust that focuses on education, health and sanitation for disadvantaged children. She has served on the Advisory Board of the Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana, and supported the Africa Network of International Women’s Empowerment Research Consortium and Network for Women’s Rights in Ghana (NETRIGHT). She served as the Chairperson of the Administrative Council of the International Board of Trustees of ACPF from 2010-2013.
She taught History at the University of Cape Coast, Ghana and was Assistant Professor of History and African Studies at UCLA. She holds a PhD in History and Social Anthropology from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).
Mr. Salim Amin is Chairman of Camerapix and Chairman of The Mohamed Amin Foundation. As Executive Producer and Presenter, Salim finished a documentary chronicling his father’s life in March 2006 entitled “MO & ME” which has to date won over 20 Awards for Best Documentary in the United States, Canada, India and on the African Continent, including the Grand Jury Award at the New York International Film Festival.
In 2007, Salim was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in Davos. He is a Fellow of the African Leadership Initiative and a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network. In 2010, Salim was one of only 150 people around the world invited by President Obama to the Presidential Entrepreneurship Summit in Washington, DC. In December 2012, Salim was named as one of the “100 Most Influential Africans” by New African Magazine, which also named him in their “Top 50 Under 50” Africans. In October 2014, Salim launched his weekly Talk Show “The Scoop,” in which he speaks to great African personalities around the continent, reaching a global audience of over 300 million people on television, radio and online.
Dr. Najat Maalla M’jid served as the UN Special Rapporteur on the Sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography for two terms from 2008 to 2014. Dr. M’jid is a medical doctor in Paediatrics, who has been involved for the past three decades in the protection of vulnerable children. She is a member of the Moroccan National Council on Human Rights, and the founder of the non-governmental organisation BAYTI, the first programme addressing the situation of children living and working in the streets in Morocco.
Dr. M’jid also works as Expert-Consultant for national and international projects, strategies and policies relating to child rights’ promotion and protection. She has notably been involved in the drafting of studies on the condition of children victims of violence, abuse and exploitation; children living in the streets; institutionalised children; unaccompanied migrant children; children workers; children deprived of parental care, etc. She participated in the development of national policies on the protection of the child, and has worked with several governments, non-governmental and inter- governmental organisations. She is also involved in the training of social workers, law enforcement, teachers, judges, and medical staff. She is a member of several international non-governmental organisations and networks working for children’s rights, and has received numerous international awards dedicated to children’s rights.
Ms. Catherine Mbengue has a vast policy and field experience in children’s rights and related issues. Catherine Mbengue is the ECPAT International Coordinator for Africa. Prior to joining ECPAT International, Ms Mbengue served in UNICEF, between 1981 and 2011, in several leadership positions, including as a Senior Advisor to UNICEF Director, Office of Emergency Programmes, and as a UNICEF Country Representative in Afghanistan, Burundi, Côte d’Ivoire, Malawi and Mauritania.
She served as the Chairperson of the Administrative Council of the International Board of Trustees of ACPF from 2012-2018. She holds two Master’s degrees in Economics and in Political Sciences from the Sorbonne University in Paris.
Prof. Benyam Dawit Mezmur is an Associate Professor of Law, and Coordinator of the Children’s Rights Project at the Dullah Omar Institute (named after its founder, the first Minister of Justice of Democratic South Africa) for Constitutional Law, Governance, and Human Rights, Faculty of Law, at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) in South Africa.
Professor Mezmur is a member of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, and served as its Chairperson from 2015-2017, and as Vice-Chairperson from 2013-2015. He continues to serve on the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC), a treaty body of the African Union. He served as its Chairperson twice, from 2012-2014, and from 2015-2017, and is currently its special rapporteur on children and armed conflict in Africa.
Professor Benyam has published a number of articles on children's rights in Africa and internationally, and has lectured/served fellowships among others at the University of Antwerp (Belgium), Ghent University (Belgium), AboAkademi (Finland), Utrecht University (The Netherlands), Groningen University (The Netherlands), and Central European University (Hungary). He received his Bachelor’s degree in law (LLB) from the Addis Ababa University, a Master’s degree (LLM) from the University of Pretoria (Centre for Human Rights), South Africa, and a Doctorate in Law (LLD) from the University of the Western Cape, South Africa. In early 2018, he was appointed as Deputy Dean for Post-Graduate and Research Matters of the Faculty. He worked for The African Child Policy Forum (ACPF) from 2003 to 2005 as a Legal Officer.
Mr. Richard Morgan is the International Advocacy Director for Plan International. He is the co-founder and co-leader of the Global Coalition to End Child Poverty. Previously, Mr. Morgan was the Director of the Child Poverty Global Initiative and Senior Advisor of Social Protection at Save the Children from 2014-2018. He was the Senior Advisor on the Post- 2015 Development Agenda at the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), responsible for promoting children’s rights and equity in the formulation of the Post-2015 Agenda and the SDGs.
Mr. Morgan was the Deputy Director, and later, Director of Policy and Practice at UNICEF from 2002-2012, responsible for organisational standards and practice in the areas of gender equality, children's rights, reaching marginalised populations, child and youth participation and communication for development. Mr. Morgan also led UNICEF's work on child-sensitive social protection, social statistics and advocacy for child-focused, pro-poor social and economic policies. Earlier, he worked in Africa for over 20 years as a rural development specialist, economic and social sector advisor and humanitarian programme manager. He planned and managed large-scale emergency response programmes in Mozambique, Botswana and Namibia. Richard was a civil servant for 7 years with the Government of Botswana at central and local government levels, working on food security, safety nets, drought response, livelihood and poverty reduction programmes before joining UNICEF. Richard is a graduate of the University of Oxford, UK and has a BA in Economics and Politics.
Mr. Bob Ransom is the Chairperson of the Administrative Council of the International Board of Trustees of ACPF as of November, 2018. He has been Senior Advisor since 2012 at the Ethiopian Center for Disability and Development (ECDD) in Addis Ababa. ECDD is a local, non-governmental development organisation that works in collaboration with government and other development organizations to promote and facilitate “disability inclusive development” – the inclusion of children, youth and adults with disabilities in mainstream health service delivery, education, work opportunities and development programs in the country. ECDD is unique in that it intentionally seeks, trains, and employs young university-educated women and men with disabilities to implement its projects.
Prior to co-founding ECDD and serving as its first Executive Director, 2006-2011, Mr. Ransom worked for the International Labour Organization (ILO), 1986-2005, first as Africa Regional Vocational Rehabilitation Specialist, then Deputy Director of the ILO Eastern Africa Sub-Regional Office in Addis Ababa, then ILO Senior Disability Specialist in Geneva. From 1978-1985 he served as Director of Africa Programs, then Director of International Programs for Goodwill Industries of America, the largest private employer of persons with disabilities in North America. Mr. Ransom has a BA in Sociology from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan and an MA in International Administration with minors in Economic Development and International Relations of Africa from American University, Washington, DC.
Ms.Ramya Subrahmanian is Chief of Child Rights and Protection at UNICEF Office of Research - Innocenti. She is an international social policy analyst with extensive experience in research, policy advocacy, training and teaching. She was previously the Executive Director Know Violence in Childhood. She has provided advisory and technical support to governments, donors and civil society organisations on education, child rights, gender and social policy issues.
Previously, as social policy specialist for UNICEF India, she led research, policy analysis and advocacy in the areas of child-sensitive social protection, equity and social inclusion, and gender equality. She has been a research fellow at the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, where she worked on issues related to gender mainstreaming, women's rights, child labour and education, and on social policies for children in India. She also co-directed and taught the MA Programme in Gender and Development, and conducted evaluations and trainings for numerous international agencies. She has an MA in Gender and Development and a PhD in Development Studies.
Dr. Hamid Tabatabai is a Senior Development Economist who had a long career at the International Labour Office (ILO), both in the headquarters and in the field. He joined the International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC) in 2002. Prior to that, he was working as a Senior Labour Market Specialist in Zimbabwe.
He has an extensive experience in child labour issues with his current research focusing on cash transfers and social security issues. He has authored and edited a variety of publications. He holds a PhD in Economic Development from Cornell University in New York.
Executive Director, ACPF
Dr. Assefa Bequele is the Founder and Executive Director of African Child Policy Forum (ACPF). He has long years of service in the United Nations system (ILO, Geneva, Asia and Africa).
He has devoted most of his professional life to the promotion of the rights and welfare of children, especially the progressive elimination of child labour. He was responsible for many years for the design, development and management of the ILO’s International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC) – the world’s premier technical programme on child labour – and the development of the ILO’s Convention on the Worst Forms of Child Labour (Convention No. 182).
Dr. Assefa has extensive experience in university teaching in both Ethiopia and the USA and is the author of many publications and articles on child rights and economic development. Dr. Assefa holds a PhD in Economics.
Dr. Salim Ahmed Salim served as the first Chairman of the International Board of Trustees for about nine years, from September 2003 to June 2012. He held public office in his country, the United Republic of Tanzania, where he served in various capacities for 27 years. He was Prime Minister in 1984-1985 and then served as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence and National Service from 1985 until his election to the helm of the General Secretariat of the Organisation for African Unity (OAU) on 27 July 1989. Dr. Salim concluded his term of office as Secretary General of the OAU in September 2001 after serving an unprecedented three terms covering a period of twelve years.
Dr Salim has functions and responsibilities in many other organisations at national, continental and international levels. He has also served in the United Nations (UN), where he was elected as the President of the UN Security Council in January 1976 and went on to serve as the President of the Thirty-Fourth Session of the UN General Assembly in September 1979. He holds six Doctorates including: Doctor of Laws, the University of Philippines at Los Baños (1980), Doctor of Humanities, University of Maiduguri, Nigeria (1983), Doctor of Civil Law, University of Mauritius (1991), Doctor of Arts in International Affairs, University of Khartoum, Sudan (1995), Doctor of Philosophy in International Relations, University of Bologna, Italy (1996), and Doctor of Laws, University of Cape Town, South Africa (1998).
H.E. President Joaquim Chissano was the Chairperson of the International Board of Trustees of African Child Policy Forum (ACPF) from June 8, 2012 until November 20, 2014. He succeeded Dr. Salim Ahmed Salim, who served as a Chairperson from 2003 to 2012. Prior to that, H.E. Joaquim Chissano has long been at the forefront of Mozambican political life. He was Prime Minister of the transitional government that led up to independence in 1975, and was thereafter Minister for Foreign Affairs under independent Mozambique's first President, Samora Machel. He served as the second President of Mozambique from 1986 to 2005, and devoted himself to restoring peace and stability in his country.
Since stepping down as President, H.E. Joaquim Chissano has become an elder statesman and is called upon by international bodies, such as the United Nations, to be an envoy or negotiator. He currently chairs the Joaquim Chissano Foundation and the Forum of Former African Heads of State and Government. In 2007, he was awarded the inaugural Prize for Achievement in African Leadership by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation.