THE acting Minister of Social Development Tseliso Mokhosi has called on the African Union (AU) to accept Lesotho’s bid to permanently house the Secretariat of the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC), saying this would go a long way in helping the country fulfil its commitment to contributing towards the realisation of the vision of the AU.
Mr Mokhosi made the call during Tuesday’s opening of the 29th session and 13th pre-session of the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child which is currently underway at AVANI Lesotho Hotel in Maseru. The conference ends next Tuesday.
Her Majesty Queen ‘Masenate Mohato Seeiso, Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing and Foreign Affairs Minister, Mamphono Khaketla joined representatives from 14 other member states as well non-governmental organisations at the official opening.
ACERWC was established by article 32 of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, with the mandate of promoting and ensuring the protection of the rights of the child enshrined in the ACRWC.
It came into force on 29 November 1999, upon ratification by 15 AU member states. Lesotho ratified the charter on 27 September, 1999 and deposited its instruments of ratification with the Secretary General of the AU on 29 October 1999.
During the 15th Ordinary Session of the African Committee on the Rights and Welfare of the Child Committee in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in 2010, it was agreed that there was need to find a permanent home for the ACERWC secretariat away from the AU headquarters in Ethiopia.
It was agreed this would give the secretariat autonomy and effectiveness.
Lesotho subsequently threw its hat into the ring along with Kenya, Botswana, Burkina Faso and Sudan to host the secretariat and of those countries, the competition remains against the latter.
In October, 2015, an ACERWC delegation visited Lesotho to assess the country’s readiness to house the secretariat.
And speaking at Tuesday’s event, Mr Mokhosi said granting Lesotho permanent hosting rights would also contribute to promoting unity, solidarity, cohesion and cooperation among African people.
“Lesotho proposed to host the secretariat of the committee of experts,” Mr Mokhosi said, adding, “If it qualifies to host the secretariat, it would have fulfilled its commitment to contributing towards the realisation of the vision of the African Union of ‘a united, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in global arena”.
“It will also be showcasing its drive towards the protection of the rights and welfare of child, not only for Lesotho children but of the African continent as a whole.
“I further urge all of us to take this opportunity to truly make a thorough introspection of our child protection programmes in order to ensure that they are responsive to all protocols that intend to improve children’s rights and welfare,” he said.
An additional statement released by the Social Development Ministry this week, underscored government’s aim to spice up the image of the country in its bid to permanently host the ACERWC Secretariat.
“As this session is a continuing assessment of Lesotho’s eligibility to host the Secretariat, we believe the committee will, without a shadow of any doubt, realise Lesotho’s ability to host events of this magnitude. We also look beyond the hosting and acknowledge our efforts in respecting the rights and welfare of our children and the rule of law.
“To date Lesotho has demonstrated its commitment to protecting vulnerable children and families through various legislation, policies, strategies, programmes and structures. Furthermore, the country is running campaigns to end child marriage.
“There is no doubt that after this session, ultimately winning the bid to host the Secretariat of the Committee of Experts will boost the image of Lesotho, benefit all Basotho and further contribute to Lesotho’s economic growth,” reads part of the statement.