Editorial, by Alba Reina Duran*, 12 October 2017

17 09 delegation somalieDuring the second week of September, the International Institute for the Rights of the Child (IDE) had the opportunity to welcome a new Somalian delegation, following the Day of Reflexion on Child Rights in Somalia on November 7 2016. A group of Somalian civil society members visited national and international organizations based in Geneva, Bern and Sion that work on implementing the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).

The group was composed of members of the Somalian federal government, teachers, and non-State actors such as a journalist and a student. Following Somalia’s ratification of the CRC in 2015, they have taken part in meetings, visits and pragmatic courses organized by the IDE, aimed at helping them write the alternative report, as well as have an impact on the writing of the government’s main report which the new State will submit to the Committee on the rights of the child at the end of this year.

In this report, the government must take stock of the progress made and the challenges that remain to be addressed relative to the implementation of the CRC. Among them is namely the fact that despite having ratified the ILO Convention on the Worst Forms of Child Labour, Somalia has not yet ratified the Optional Protocol to the CRC on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict.

A second challenge – in a context where children are involved in the actions of armed groups, and where the educational system remains ill defined, despite initiatives led namely by UNICEF – is that children turn to dugsi (Koranic schools) or to informal family-based educational systems. The lack of centralized educational resources means that in some cases children begin work, at the risk of their development and integrity.

In a context that has witnessed the political radicalization of vulnerable individuals, it is essential to keep in mind that more than 50% of the population of Somalia is under 30 years of age. This fact should compel international consciences to act in favour of youth management. It is imperative that Somalian children be considered as rights-holders. It remains a major challenge to get their voices heard and to defend their best interests. This can be achieved if the proper tools for the empowerment of the youthful majority are developed, which would pave the way toward real CRC implementation. The IDE is currently working on long term projects with this goal in mind.

Through these meetings, the IDE has realized that Somalia’s complex political-economic situation complicated access to information from a distance. In addition, it is not the IDE’s will to impose upon participants a vision of formal education as a solution to the nation’s crisis. Nevertheless, the professional training provided by the GCSP during one of the visits goes to show that the problems of peace building and security affect children, first and foremost, and that adults hold a responsibility toward them.

Security and training are interconnected. The IDE is dedicated to impacting and building bridges with Somalia, with the aim to promote access to children’s rights education. The IDE is working with RAJO, an association based in Sion working on development and education in Somalia.

*Alba Reina Duran is an intern at the IDE. She's studying at the Master interdisciplinaire en droits de l'enfant (MIDE).

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