Do African Children Have Rights?
A Comparative and Legal Analysis of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child
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Children are the most politically powerless citizens of all nations. Infants and young children, especially, are the most vulnerable. The United Nations 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) constitutes a landmark in the development of international human rights law and reflects an historic turn in universal thinking about children and their rights. It is almost universally embraced, with more ratifications than any other human rights treaty in history.
Africa is one of the continents in the world where the rights of the child are still a mirage; a continent where half of the population is made up of children. But the sad reality for many of these children is that violation of their rights is not seen as a serious problem. These violations, in most cases, have severe consequences for children even beyond their childhood, thus posing direct threats to peace, stability and development in Africa. This miserable state of affairs spells disaster. It foretells a future of uneducated, undernourished and unhealthy workers who, far from being the foundation and building blocks of a modern, dynamic economy, will perpetuate the continent's poverty and lack of development.
Today's social and economic crises have radically changed the world views and the life expectations of the African child. Many of the children in Africa face the future with a deep sense of uncertainty and foreboding, and the issue of child trafficking and child labour reflects a profound crisis of the family.
This book is an attempt to respond to the numerous questions that could be asked: To what extent have the provisions of the CRC been implemented in the national legislations of African States? What effect have they had on children in Africa? How has the ratification of the CRC been able to meliorate the lives of millions of children in Africa? What mechanisms exist to prevent and sanction rights abusers? Have these rights had any impact on the lives of Africans? In other words, is there any difference between the reality and rhetoric of rights? The best gift humanity could give to the world is to ensure a safe, healthy, educated and able future generation.
About the Author
Stephen N. Achilihu, a priest of the Catholic diocese of Aba (Nigeria) and child rights activist, holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy - BA (Hons) (Nigeria), a Bachelor in Divinity – BD (Rome) and a Doctorate in both Civil Law and Canon Law (Lateran University). He is a former editor of The Sign journal and has written many scholarly articles.