CLOSING REMARKS – NGOs.
Members of African governments, representatives of civil society, representatives of UN Agencies and children, colleagues and friends
Almost all countries in the Region were represented by NGOs present at the Regional Meeting. In addition, colleagues from both the United Kingdom and the United States were in attendance.
NGO representatives participated in a range of different ways: • Membership of the NGO Advisory Panel to the Global Study • Membership of the Steering Committee for the Regional Meeting • Plenary presentations • Small Group Facilitators • Membership of the Drafting Committee
Notice of this opportunity was given to us too late to ensure a proper and representative process in the development of this statement. For this, I apologise to my NGO colleagues. This statement represents my collation of comments and inputs at three meetings of NGOs held on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, and the inputs of those colleagues I could access this morning.
Comments about the process
We are pleased that this meeting has succeeded in its original intention to provide inputs from the Eastern and Southern African Region to the Global Study on Violence Against Children, and that at the same time there has been a commitment from NGOs in the region to work towards and participate in the development of a consolidated Pan-African position on these very important issues for the future of African children and hence the African continent.
We very much enjoyed the opportunity afforded us yesterday to meet with Prof Pinheiro as NGOs and to discuss with him how we, as African NGOs can in our own countries continue to work to combat violence against children. We are concerned that the momentum that has been established via in-country processes and this Regional process is not lost or diluted and have undertaken to remain in touch with each other and to seek to find ways to build solidarity, experience-sharing and mutual learning.
Comments about child participation
We wish to formally congratulate the UNICEF South Africa Office, the South African office of the Commission for Human Rights and the National Children’s Rights Committee on the successful child participation process that was implemented for this meeting. We also acknowledge the financial contributions made by World Vision and the South African Office on the Rights of the Child in this regard.
We also wish to acknowledge and recognise the importance of what the children have had to say about the things that hurt and concern them the most, and to remind all of us here about how seriously we need to take the contributions they have made. Comments about the meeting
We have appreciated the opportunity to participate fully in the different small groups, and also that there is NGO participation in the drafting of the Report on this meeting.
Now that common forms of violence against children, including sexual abuse and corporal punishment in the family, and harmful cultural practices are becoming visible, and children are telling us how upsetting and damaging they find these things, we should regard this as an emergency, and not just an ongoing situation. It was clear in the small group meetings that law reform and policy development needs to explicitly prohibit these hurtful and harmful things that happen to children in all settings, including the home and family.
We acknowledge that the prohibition of these practices has been addressed somewhat in legislation in the different countries in the region, but stress the need for national legislations to be consolidated and harmonized with the CRC and the African Charter, and that this to be made explicit and that guidelines for implementation in the best interests of children need to be developed. The vulnerability of children in the face of the HIV pandemic that is impacting in so many of our countries and which exacerbates the vulnerability of children also needs to be urgently addressed. We also acknowledge the role played by poverty in exacerbating vulnerability but stress that poverty is neither a cause of nor an excuse for violence against children.
Arising out of these deliberations, we urge that governments develop concrete action plans, related to law and policy to address the issues raised here – and in particular the issues raised by our young delegates. We ask that all governments in our region who have not yet done so consider ratification of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child – which we are convinced will indicate our ownership as Africans, of the notion that children are the bearers of rights in their own right. We are encouraged by the many positive developments that are taking place and hope sincerely that we can learn from each other as we move forward to ensuring an Africa fit for children. Children are our future – this is true, but it is present reality that we must address as it is this that shapes the future for our children and indeed for all of us.
I thank you.
Previous News release items
- 19/07/2005: Corporal Punishment in East and Southern Africa
- 19/07/2005: Children’s Forum, Summary from Working Groups
- 19/07/2005: Presentation on Corporal Punishment at the East & Southern Africa Consultation
- 19/07/2005: Presentation byShirley Mabusela at the East and Southern Africa Consultation
- 18/07/2005: EAST & SOUTHERN AFRICA: Consultation Opens
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Last updated 20/07/2005 11:44:41