BURKINA FASO: Workshop to follow up Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child

Since the ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1990, heightened international concern about the plight of millions of impoverished children in much of the developing world has fostered a groundswell of critical awareness of children’s rights and the need to ensure there are good follow up mechanisms in place.

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child was created to address this need. Its role consists of looking at progress made by States Parties in the implementation of their obligations. Since its creation in 1991, the Committee has examined more than 300 reports worldwide from States Parties and formulated recommendations. However, little has been done on the ground by countries to translate these recommendations into action. West Africa is no exception. While notions of children’s rights now figure in the discourse of most West African countries that ratified the UN Convention on Children’s Rights, little is being done to improve the plight of children or alter the underlying social, political and economic conditions that perpetuate their indigence and confiscate their rights.

In response to this situation, the Committee, in cooperation with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCR) and Plan International, has decided to provide technical support to countries in West Africa to improve the implementation of the CRC and the quality of States Parties’ reports, through regional follow up workshops.

Therefore, to support the efforts of national governments in West Africa, the UN CRC Committee, OHCHR and Plan are organising the first regional workshop for West Africa francophone ECOWAS countries on follow up to the Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, from 7 to 10 November 2007. Each organisation brings a wealth of global experience in promoting child rights initiatives – individually and as partners. Plan participated as a partner in the organisation of two similar workshops in Argentina and Costa Rica (2004 and 2005 respectively) and our involvement both in the substance and the organisation of the workshops was highly appreciated and strengthened their quality. The three organisations are now building on these experiences for the first time in West Africa.

Objectives

  • Reinforce States Parties’ capacities to implement the recommendations of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child

Specific Objectives

  • Consider issues involved in effective follow up mechanisms
  • Increase awareness on State parties obligations regarding the CRC
  • Exchange experiences, practices and lessons learned
  • Lay the foundations for improved regional networking and cooperation for the promotion of children’s rights in West Africa
  • Define regional and country priorities for child rights

 

Contents

The High Commissioner for Human Rights has prepared a working document (a regional assessment paper) that integrates the Committee’s recommendations (from country reports) to participant countries. The following themes have been identified (from the Committee’s recommendations to countries) in agreement with the Committee on the Rights of the Child and will serve as the basis for the three-day discussion:

  • Universal birth registration
  • Follow up to the UN Study on Violence against Children
  • Health
  • Education
  • Worst form of Child labour and child trafficking
  • Juvenile justice

Cross-cutting issues will also be discussed through working groups; they are:

  • Independent Monitoring
  • Data collection
  • Discrimination
  • Child participation
  • HIV-AIDS
  • Migrations

 

Participants

Plan and most of the partners involved are regional bodies/organisations and therefore have the capacity to address the issue of child rights more widely than other organisations without regional representation. Main participants will include:

  • Children and youth organisations such as the African Movement of Working Children and Youth and like-minded organisations such as the Coalition of African NGOs working with Children (invited by Plan)
  • Country delegations from Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Togo and Senegal. Ghana, Cameroon, Guinea Bissau and Cape Verde will participate as an observer countries. Each country delegation will comprise 3 government representatives, 3 civil society representatives, 2 members of Parliament (invited by UNICEF), 2 human rights organisation members, 1 journalist (invited by UNICEF)
  • The Economic Commission of West African States (ECOWAS)
  • The African Commission on Human and People’s Rights
  • The African Child Rights Committee
  • The African Commission on Human and People’s Rights Special Rapporteur on Women’s Rights in Africa
  • The Sub-regional Center for Human Rights and Democracy in Central Africa (based in Yaounde, Cameroon)
  • The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Regional Representative
  • World Health Organisation (West Africa Office)
  • The Director of the Human Rights Procedures Division of OHCHR

A similar workshop will also be organised in 2008 for Anglophone countries in West Africa.

Countries