A Consultative Workshop on Sudan’s Fifth and Sixth Periodic Report on Child Rights

Sudan Joins More Than 70 Other Countries Worldwide that have Ratified Both Optional Protocols.

Report by: Haffiya Abdalla

The Optional Protocols on child rights aim at strengthening the protection of children from recruitment into armed forces and from sexual exploitation.

Sudan joins more than 70 other countries worldwide that have ratified both Optional Protocols. Sudan is amongst the first Arab countries to do so. Only six have ratified it, though Kuwait’s ratification is imminent.

The Optional Protocols were adopted by the UN General Assembly in May 2000. One aims at combating the sale of children, child prostitution, and child pornography. The second aims at putting an end to the involvement of all children under the age of 18 in armed conflict. The Government of Sudan signed only the Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict in 2002. A period of legislative review of both protocols was followed. The two protocols are ratified, which makes them obligatory under international law.

A consultative Workshop on Sudan’s Fifth and Sixth Periodic Report on the Implementation of the Convention on Rights and the two Optional Protocols to the updated Convention organized by the National Council for Child Welfare NCCW in collaboration with UNICEF.

Acting Secretary-general of the National Council for Child Welfare, Najat Al Assad said that child protection is one of the priorities of the State, saying that the workshop comes to consult on Sudan’s fifth and sixth draft report on the situation of children, noting that the final report will be submitted to the International Committee on Child Rights, noting that the situation of children in Sudan will be monitored in all aspects of care, health, education, and development, especially, Sudan is witnessing many transformations and changes in the childhood sector.

Najat added that the report should reflect the changes in legal reform at the policy level in the country and the economic and social changes that have a noticeable impact on the situation of children, in addition to clarifying the role of civil society organizations in their capacity as the executive body in childhood issues and all fields. The ICRC is positive and expressed its hope that the children of Sudan will enjoy all their rights, which is the main objective of establishing the National Council for Child Welfare.

Nearly 30 years ago, the world made a promise to children: that we would do everything in our power to protect and promote their rights to survive and thrive, to learn and grow, to make their voices heard, and to reach their full potential.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) upholds these rights for all children, everywhere, so they may grow to realize their full potential and contribute towards society and nation-building.

It is worth noting that the Action Plan for the Protection of Children in Armed Conflict was signed by the Government of Sudan and the UN on 27 March 2016 is considered one of the important steps in child protection, the Action Plan set out a series of measures to enhance the overall protection of children affected by armed conflict, including the cessation and prevention of child recruitment. The Government has shown serious commitment to fully implement the Action Plan. Several steps have already been taken by the Government to ensure its implementation, including establishing relevant structures at the national and state level for its implementation, providing access for verification, sending command orders, and undertaking steps to access age verification mechanisms.

The Convention makes specific mention of children in war. Article 38 calls on States Parties (i.e. governments) to apply the rules of international humanitarian law that are relevant to the child, and to take every feasible measure “to ensure protection and care of children who are affected by armed conflict.”

Article 38 also urges governments to take all feasible measures to ensure that children under 15 have no direct part in the hostilities. Specifically, with respect to child soldiers, it states:

States Parties shall refrain from recruiting any person who has not attained the age of fifteen years into their armed forces. In recruiting among those persons who have attained the age of fifteen years but who have not attained the age of eighteen years, States Parties shall endeavor to give priority to those who are oldest.

There was some controversy over this article in the drafting process. Many non-governmental organizations (NGOs), in particular, felt that the age limit was set too low. However, this debate has continued, and a United Nations working group has been established to draft an Optional Protocol to the Convention which would ban recruiting anyone below the age of 18.

Article 39 of the Convention also covers children in armed conflicts. It refers to the need for physical and psychological recovery and social reintegration of child victims.

National legislation on children The Government of Sudan (GS) has made efforts to improve the legislative framework, to harmonize it with international standards, and to develop child protection mechanisms to create a protective environment for children.

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