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Kaime, Thoko (2007) Protecting the Rights and Welfare of the African Child: An Assessment of the Contribution of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This thesis looks at the protection of children's rights in Africa through an examination of the provisions of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child. It seeks to investigate the specific question whether the African Children's Charter provides a culturally appropriate framework for the protection and promotion of children's rights in Africa. In examining this question, the thesis argues that the effective protection of the rights of the child in Africa will not be achieved unless the substantive protections are perceived as culturally legitimate by local communities and unless the implementation procedures are aimed at enhancing such legitimacy as opposed to merely ensuring adherence to form. The thesis tackles the question by first locating children's rights, generally; and the African Children's Charter, in particular; within the general universalism-relativism debate whilst highlighting the importance of having regard to local values in the implementation of international children's rights standards. The thesis then proceeds to analytically engage the Charter's substantive provisions through a consideration of its central themes which include principles relating to childhood, children's rights, non-discrimination, best interests, survival and development, and participation. This analysis is achieved through a combination of legal interpretation of the text as well as through a consideration of field data drawn from Malawi. The thesis then analyses the implementation strategies envisaged under the Charter and considers how relevant the mechanisms provided are for ensuring the increased acceptance of children's rights within African communities. Whilst paying particular regard to the formal implementation requirements, the thesis also engages with less formal measures of implementation and amplifies the crucial role that non-state actors have in the realisation of children's rights in Africa. The thesis concludes that the African Children's Charter is an important step in the realisation of the rights of the child in Africa. It further observes that in devising their implementation strategies for children's rights, African governments must learn from and be guided by appropriate local values instead of merely cloning statements from international texts.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2020 17:19

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