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Official launch of the Joint General Comment on Ending Child Marriage and the Report on Child Marriage in Africa

3 May 2018 - On 30 April 2018, at the 62nd Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (African Commission), the Joint General Comment to Ending Child Marriage and the Report on Child Marriage in Africa were officially launched.

Speaking at the launch event, Chairperson of the African Commission, Commissioner Maiga noted the tremendous strides that the African Commission has made in advancing a framework for the protection of children from child marriage. This has been achieved through the development of legal norms including the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (Maputo Protocol), the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (African Children’s Charter) and now, the Joint General Comment on Ending Child Marriage.  However, despite these developments, child marriage remains a common practice in many countries. She urged both state and non-state actors to work together to end child marriage.

She highlighted the importance of the Report on Child Marriage in raising awareness of the problem of child marriage and the critical role it played in the development of the Joint General Comment. She also spoke of the transformative value of the Joint General Comment, in that it goes beyond providing states with guidance on how to comply with treaty obligations and that it is also relevant to stakeholders in holding States accountable for failure to implement their treaty obligations.

Commissioner Maiga concluded that the Joint General Comment will go a long way in protecting girls from child marriage and that this is very critical to not only harnessing Africa’s demographic dividend, but also to the achievement of the sustainable development objectives of the AU’s Agenda 2063 and the UN’s Agenda 2030.

The Centre for Human Rights was represented by Prof Frans Viljoen and Satang Nabaneh, who sat on the panel to launch the Joint General Comment and was joined by Mr Johndson Bien- Aime from Plan International.

Joint General Comment on Ending Child Marriage

On 8 February 2018, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Commission) and the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (Committee) adopted the first Joint General Comment on child marriage. The aim of this Joint General Comment is to elaborate on the nature of State Party obligations that arise from Article 6(b) of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (Maputo Protocol) and Article 21(2) of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC). 

Report on Child Marriage in Africa 

The study on child marriage in Africa was commissioned by the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Women in Africa at the request of the African Commission. The 10-country study was carried out in Cameroon, the DRC, The Gambia, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, South Africa and Uganda. This study is intended to assist States Parties to the Maputo Protocol and other stakeholders to strengthen implementation of the legal prohibitions on child marriage, adopt appropriate strategies for eradicating child marriage and protect the human rights of all children and especially girls. 

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