South African Statement on the High-Level Mainstreaming Panel under the theme "Thirty Years of Implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child: Challenges and Opportunities", HRC43, Geneva, 24 February 2020

Mr President,

In 2019, South Africa joined other member states in various commemorative events in New York and Geneva celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). The CRC was the first international human rights treaty to be signed and ratified by a democratic South Africa in 1995. Given South Africa’s history our children still face numerous challenges, including poverty, poor education and limited access to the provision of quality services.

Since ratifying the Convention, and guided by commitments to child rights, South Africa has focused on addressing these historical fault lines. Section 28 of South Africa’s Bill of Rights includes obligations on children’s rights. Laws and policies aimed at realizing child rights have been explicated to meet our commitments arising out of the CRC and our Constitution.

Based on regular reviews of the implementation of laws and policies the South African Government attempts to address the gaps that still exist in the promotion, protection and fulfilment of child rights. Tangible results include reforms with regards to juvenile justice. South Africa participated in the UN Global Study on Children deprived of Liberty. In December 2019, the Government and the mandate holder, Independent Expert Professor Manfred Nowak, co-hosted the Southern African regional launch of the UN Global Study. This regional launch brought together officials from 15 SADC Member States, Human Rights Institutions, Civil Society Organisations and academia to discuss how the outcomes and recommendations of the Global Study could be implemented in the region. For children, deprivation of liberty means deprivation of childhood, and is a form of structural violence, which states committed themselves to eliminate. Similar to the support provided to the previous two UN Global Studies on Children, South Africa strongly urges the United Nations to continue to support the Independent Expert leading this important mandate to ensure the implementation of the recommendations of the Global Study on Children deprived of Liberty.

In 2019, South Africa was proudly one of the member states that abolished corporal punishment in all settings when the country’s apex court, the Constitutional Court, ruled in favour of government policy that that prohibited corporal punishment, including in the home. This ruling confirmed that government laws and policies in these areas are in line with our international obligations on protecting children under Article 19 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Despite gains made over the last 25 years there are still critical challenges that threaten the plight of children. Key priorities that remain for South Africa include early childhood development and care; violence against children; health and nutrition; and quality education and life skills programmes. South Africa therefore encourages states addressing the rights of the child within multilateral fora, to remain steadfast in strengthening and enhancing the important gains that have been made for children from developing countries. This will ensure that children experience the care and protection they deserve, and have a voice in the decisions that are made pertaining to them.

I thank you.


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