The role of Independent Human Rights Institutions for Children in Africa in raising Awareness about Children's Rights among children

Nankunda, Hilda Kalekyezi (2016) The role of Independent Human Rights Institutions for Children in Africa in raising Awareness about Children's Rights among children. Masters thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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This thesis examines Africa’s response to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) 1989 Article 42, and the General Comment No. 2 2002. It explores ways of using Independent Human Rights Institutions for Children (IHRICs) to raise awareness about children’s rights among children; so that children can participate and lead in realising their rights. A review of the literature focussed on theories of childhood as a social construction and the theories and practice of children’s rights in an African context. A qualitative research design was employed in two phases, to find out whether IHRICs in Africa are raising awareness about children’s rights, whether these institutions are interacting with children and soliciting their views for inclusion in planning processes. To explore further how States Parties are implementing the UNCRC, field research was conducted to give insight into stakeholders’ perspectives of children’s rights. Phase 1 was a documentary review of periodic reports to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, from 25 states parties to find out whether or not there are IHRICs raising awareness about children’s rights. Through content analysis HRICs of various categories were identified and revealed that they lacked independence as understood under the Paris Principles (1993). Due to inadequate facilitation, HRICs were ineffective in engaging with children and raising their awareness about rights. The Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) were reported to be instrumental in these activities on behalf of governments. The research question remained unanswered and this led to the application of Action Research approaches including Focus Group Discussions with 21 children aged 10-15, dialogue meetings with children, parents, guardians and community leaders and Key Informant Interviews for stakeholders at District and National level, including the CSOs, covering 72 participants. An interpretive approach was used to analyse primary data revealing that children understand their rights from their needs and experiences; that they can communicate this understanding to adults and community leaders and contribute to decisions that affect them if consulted and given opportunity, that adults can listen to children and discuss the issues raised, and that children have an important interest as stakeholders in defining their rights. The conclusion is that States Parties strengthening of IHRICs would enhance children’s engagement and effective implementation of the UNCRC.

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