The United Nations and the African Union, of which Nigeria is a member, have agreed to enhance protection of children affected by armed conflicts that despite certain progress still lead to grave child rights violations including under-age recruitment.
An agreement to step up measures to protect children from armed violence was signed on 17 September between the Office of Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, and the Peace and Security Department of the AU Commission, in partnership with the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
“As the African Union is taking a larger role in the continent’s mediation and peacekeeping operations, it had become essential to make our partnership stronger,” said Leila Zerrougui, Special Representative of the SG for Children and Armed Conflict.
Among the areas of cooperation outlined in the agreement, the AU, with UN support, agrees to include the protection of children in all its peace and security activities.
The document also calls for the development of a joint programme of work to align domestic legislation with regional and international child rights. Besides, improved and harmonized training programmes in child protection will be developed for countries contributing troops to AU peace missions.
“We welcome this collaboration to ensure that protecting children is central to the work of the African Union. “We know that we cannot succeed in building a prosperous and just future for the continent if we do not do everything in our collective power to protect them from the scourge of violence and war,” said El-Ghassim Wane, Director of the Department of Peace and Security at the AU Commission.