The evolution of conflict dynamics over the years and violations committed against children pose the greatest threats to child protection in conflict situations. Contemporary conflicts present more challenges for children, especially given the increasing number of violations committed against children, the growing number of actors in any given conflict, and the complexity of drivers of conflict that have had the consequence of delaying and complicating resolution processes and the protracted nature of the conflict itself. The diversity of conflict in Africa precludes the possibility of presenting a universal picture thereof and children’s experiences from a Pan-African perspective. Some African countries have experienced prolonged and protracted conflicts that have almost wholly undermined governance and led to the partial or total collapse of child protection systems. Of the 21 country situations outlined in
intensify efforts to protect children from the effects of conflict, cognisant of the increasing incidence of grave violations against children in situations of armed conflict. This outlook can be argued to have been inspired by the push for regional and sub-regional organisations to address the plight of children affected by armed conflict, as illustrated in various platforms, including the 2018 Report of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict and UN Security Council Resolution 2427 as the most recent Security Council resolution on the subject
of children and armed conflict. The 2018 Annual Report urged regional and sub-regional organisations to strengthen dedicated child protection capacities and assist in developing tools to prevent grave violations. This position has been supported by the Member States, which have recognised “the strategic advantage of regional organisations in addressing the impact of armed conflicts on children.”

Appreciating the contribution of relevant actors to the promotion of peace, security, and stability on the continent and their critical role in protecting and preventing the violation
of the rights of children in conflict, COMESA, Save the Children, and the African Child Policy Forum convened a conference on Protecting Children Affected by Armed Conflicts under the theme “Reinvigorating Our Commitment to Protect Children in Conflict Situations” on 28 – 30 November in Nairobi. The conference saw the participation of stakeholders from the region to initiate dialogue and consensusbuilding toward approaches aimed at bridging identified gaps in the implementation of the CAAC agenda on the continent and reinforcing advocacy in
a call for action for more effective and accountable ways of protecting children affected by armed conflict.

A three-day conference themed, ‘THE PROTECTION OF CHILDREN AFFECTED BY ARMED CONFLICTS IN AFRICA REINVIGORATING POLITICAL ACTION’ was convened from the 28th to 30th of November 2022 in Nairobi, Kenya. Some of the specific objectives included: Advocating for more robust protection of children in situations of armed conflict; Awareness creation, Learning and Knowledge exchange on CAAC; and Mobilizing commitments and investments in CAAC. The conference brought together stakeholders from the RECs, government officials, local and international NGOs, development partners and children’s parliaments’ representatives from Nigeria, Mali, Ethiopia, Somalia and Mozambique.

ON THE FIRST DAY, stakeholders reaffirmed their political commitments to the CAAC agenda. Children formed an important part of the deliberations urging partners to act quickly to promote child inclusion in policy formulation and implementation. The need EXECUTIVE SUMMARY the 2021 annual report of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict, 19 (90 per cent) have continued to be highlighted in the annual report for the last eight years. As the conflicts become more protracted, families get forced to leave their homes and ecosystems of livelihoods resulting in increased susceptibility to violations, especially among children. 2. There is a vast body of international legal instruments, Security Council Resolutions, standards, guidelines, procedures and protocols, provisions in peace agreements, and concrete commitments made by parties to protect children in conflict situations. Regionally, the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC) is the principal instrument framing the full spectrum of rights, protection and welfare of children, including those in situations of armed conflict, tension, and strife. Article 22 of the Charter speaks explicitly to the protecting and caring for children affected by armed conflict. The presence of such robust frameworks notwithstanding, the protection of children in situations of armed conflict remains one of the most daunting challenges of the 21st Century. These frameworks seem to have a limited effect on guaranteeing children’s safety and well-being, noting that the number of children living in conflict zones on the continent continues to increase, and children continue to be subject to rights violations, including violence that is both incidental and targeted.
3. There is a growing disposition within the African Union, the regional economic communities and mechanisms (RECS, RMs) and the Member States to for the implementation of effective continental and regional strategies was emphasized in a bid to strengthen child protection efforts.

THE SECOND DAY of the conference brought to light emerging and devastating threats associated with conflicts such as climate change, violent extremism and sexual violence against children, with the International Peace Security Training Centre, auspiciously launching their book ‘Children Peace and Security’. Samuel Hall Consultants and Save the Children presented the findings of the Conflict-Sensitive Capacity Gap Assessment to Respond and Protect Children Associated with Armed Forces and Armed Groups (CAAFAG). The objective of the
study was to understand the structures, networks, and systems in place to provide support through integrated stakeholder mobilization and sensitization and re-positioning child protection at the center of [SCI’s] programming. The session aimed to reflect on CAAFAG programming in Somalia, including emerging trends and achievements, and propose
recommendations for action by the different actors in Somalia.

The hallmark of THE THIRD DAY of the conference featured engaging exchanges between ministers and the child representatives. The children were given an opportunity to present their communiques to the government officials and recurrent issues on food insecurity, climate change, poverty, and lack of education were reiterated. The ambassadors then gave
statements on functional processes that address child rights violations in their respective countries which focused primarily on mitigating learning disruptions in schools, capacity building for child protection personnel, vertical and horizontal integration of child protection mechanisms, and the dignified reintegration and rehabilitation of affected children into the community. This was followed by the launch of the SWOC (Stop the War on Children) report by Save the Children which identified deeply concerning trends for the safety and well-being of children living in conflict areas in Africa. Six out of the ten worst conflict-afflicted countries to
be a child were found in Africa: the DRC, Mali, Nigeria, Cameroon, Sudan and the CAR.

THE FINAL SESSION involved discussions on Child Protection Humanitarian Funding and Partnerships that exposed glaring deficiencies in the financing of the child protection agenda. Member states were urged to devise innovative solutions and not be entirely reliant on aid with respect to all child protection matters.

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