The Protection of Children’s Economic, Social and Cultural Rights under the African Children’s Charter

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Introduction This chapter provides an assessment of socio-economic rights under the African children’s rights regime. It commences with a consideration of the standard for implementation of socio-economic rights in the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (African Children’s Charter), since it is obvious that on a resource-deprived continent, with severe socio-economic deficits affecting children’s well-being, the standards by which states’ implementation efforts are to be adjudicated constitute a crucial underpinning to the remainder of the discussion. Next, the individual rights of the African Children’s Charter concerning health, education, housing, food and nutrition are discussed, the focus being on the normative content of the relevant right and the nature of the state obligations that it engenders. Having established the scope of the socio-economic rights enshrined under the African Children’s Charter, the chapter proceeds to examine how socio-economic rights have been addressed in the work of the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC), the treaty body established to monitor the African Children’s Charter. Included in this discussion are concluding observations of the ACERWC in response to state reports received and assessed, socio-economic rights addressed in decisions on communications lodged with the ACERWC, as well as aspects of ACERWC’s practice, including the selection of themes for the Day of the African Child and the focus discussion areas held midway through its meetings from time to time. Next, a short section examines the extent to which the socio-economic rights of the African Children’s Charter have informed domestic practice, and in this regard three examples are highlighted: the Africa Wellbeing Reports of the African Child Policy Forum, the extension of social cash transfer schemes, and the approaches to socio-economic rights in domestic law, with reference to selected recent examples. In conclusion, it is argued that, with some auspicious indicators of progress in realising children’s socio-economic rights on the continent having emerged since the adoption of the Millennium Development Goals, especially concerning improved health outcomes and access to education, African human rights architecture is beginning to demonstrate that it can play a role in elaborating standards for the fulfilment of children’s socio-economic rights, addressing gaps in state party practice and in addressing violations, especially those pertaining to the most vulnerable and excluded groups.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Protection of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in Africa
Subtitle of host publicationInternational, Regional and National Perspectives
EditorsDanwood Mzikenge Chirwa, Lilian Chenwi
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages25
ISBN (Electronic)9781316780251
ISBN (Print)9781107173651, 9781316625866
Publication statusPublished - 3 Nov 2016
Externally publishedYes


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