On the Day of the African Child, held this year under the theme “Humanitarian Action in Africa: Children’s Rights First”, the African Union  Peace and Security Department, and the Office of the UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict (CAAC), renew their commitment to  prevent and end grave violations against children and to strengthen their cooperation to better protect children across the continent.

“Children and youth are our most precious asset; yet, they are the most vulnerable. They are being used and abused by parties to conflict in protracted crises and hostilities. The Day of the African Child is an opportunity for introspection, and for recommitment to address violations of children’s rights in conflict affected countries. This year’s theme focusing on humanitarian actions is also a reminder that children are the ones suffering the most in times of humanitarian crisis. The African Union and the Children and Armed Conflict Office will continue to work for the integration of child protection principles into the norms and working methods of regional and national institutions, as well as to ensure adequate capacity to protect the rights and wellbeing of children across the continent.”

The Peace and Security Department of the AU and the Office of the UN Special Representative strongly condemn all violations against children by parties to armed conflict, and in particular the denial of humanitarian access  to children and call on all parties to put an end to such practices and take special measures to protect conflict-affected children as well as to allow safe, timely and unhindered humanitarian access to children.

Children make up a sizeable majority of the population in conflict affected countries in Africa. Serious abuses and violations of children’s rights or international humanitarian law protecting children in the context of armed conflict is an early indication of a descent or escalation of conflict, as well as a consequence thereof.

Every year, thousands of boys and girls are killed or maimed, recruited and used by parties to conflict, abducted, victims of sexual violence and denied access to humanitarian assistance. The growing number of refugees and displaced children, unaccompanied minors, trafficking or sexual exploitations are only a few additional growing concerns to which children are more vulnerable in times of crises.

The African Union’s increasing role in maintaining peace and security on the continent makes the collaboration between the AU and the CAAC Office even more critical. Security Council Resolutions 2427 (2018) and 2457 (2019) provide additional opportunities to jointly respond to child protection challenges and devise measures to prevent grave violations against boys and girls

The African Union Commission and the CAAC Office already have a long-standing collaboration, dating back to the very origins of the children and armed conflict mandate. The partnership was consolidated in 2013 with the signature of an agreement to strengthen protection mechanisms to ensure that child protection is a critical component of the peace and security agenda for the continent. More recently, in April 2019, the African Union co-sponsored the launch of the campaign ACT to Protect children affected by conflict, sealing the engagement of regional organizations in the protection of children from hostilities. The increased synergy between the 2030 Global Agenda for Sustainable Development and the African Agenda 2063 also presents further opportunity to jointly work on the protection of conflict affected children.

“Children are pivotal to the future of peaceful and prosperous societies in all parts of the continent. Today, we ask partners at global, regional and national levels to add their efforts and resources to ours to strengthen institutions and services for children, including justice, education and health services. Our joint efforts to protect children should be focusing on addressing the root causes of conflict to prevent violations and providing boys and girls with the necessary tools to thrive in their reintegration process.”


Note to editors

The UN Children and Armed Conflict mandate covers eight situations in Africa: The Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Libya, Mali, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Sudan.


For more information, please contact:

Fabienne Vinet, Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, vinet@un.org +1-917-288-5791