Children’s Rights and COVID-19 Responses under the African Union: Recent Developments and Challenges
Keywords:children’s rights, COVID-19 responses, African Union law, regional governance
There is little doubt that children are at risk of being seriously affected by the socio-economic impact and the response measures to the COVID-19 pandemic that may inadvertently affect their rights, interests and well-being. UNICEF has declared that unless states act together, globally and regionally, to address this, it is possible that the pandemic will permanently cause damage to children and our shared future. The pandemic poses real challenges for children around the world, particularly the developing countries in Africa. Most African countries are already bedevilled by socio-economic frailties, corruption, conflict and institutional problems. In this article we explore responses to COVID-19 from the African Union (AU), to ascertain how regional responses have integrated the protection of the rights and interests of children. With the African Children’s Charter as a guide, it is argued that institutions at the AU continental and sub-regional levels are increasingly becoming aware of the importance of children’s rights as a distinct issue rather than being part of women’s concerns. The AU celebrated the thirtieth anniversary of the African Children’s Charter in 2020, and this occasion provides a timely opportunity to reflect on how regional institutions are integrating the principles of children’s rights in regional governance processes and decision-making.
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© Published by the Department of Public, Constitutional and International Law, University of South Africa and Unisa Press.