In 2013 the CHR identified a gap in the capacity of pan-African institutions to generate and utilize evidence that could inform policy making in the area of children’s rights in Africa. In partnership with the Centre for Child Law at the University of Pretoria and the Children’s Rights Project at the University of Western Cape, the CHR therefore established the Children’s Rights Unit in order to fill this gap. The Children’s Rights Unit is a pan-African platform established to carry out and support pan-African research in children’s rights, provide capacity strengthening training for government, intergovernmental and non-governmental institutions and organisations, as well as advocate for the promotion and protection of children’s rights in Africa.
So far, the Unit has carried out research on the impact of reporting on the realization of children’s rights in Africa and is currently carrying out a second research project on the extent of implementation of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child in five countries across the continent. In the area of capacity strengthening, the CHR organises an advanced short course in children’s rights which has so far trained a great number of child researchers and practitioners across the continent. In the area of advocacy, the Unit, in collaboration with other organisations which partner with the CHR, has litigated two complaints before the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, and has three complaints in preparation for submission before the ECOWAS Court of Justice on behalf of children accused of witchcraft in Ghana, Benin and Nigeria.
The Children’s Rights Unit also aims to undertake follow up on the implementation of the decisions rendered by the Committee in respect of two communications submitted by the CHR, in collaboration with its partners: the decision on the situation of children in Northern Uganda and the decision on the Senegal Talibé children. Through the Children’s Rights Unit, the CHR intends further to undertake follow up on the Concluding Observations issued by the Committee in response to the South Africa’s Initial Country Report on the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child.