South African government to account for progress on realising child rights

A meeting between representatives from the South African government and the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child (UNCRoC) in Geneva, Switzerland, on 19 and 20 September will provide an opportunity to address pressing issues on the wellbeing of children in South Africa.

On Monday to Tuesday, 19-20 September 2016, a delegation of the South African Government will meet with the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child (UNCRoC) in Geneva, Switzerland, to discuss South Africa’s progress in realising children’s rights.

The dialogue should engage with questions on progress on education, health, social security, violence and child protection, among others. These are some of the critical issues facing South African children – almost two-thirds (63%) of children in the country live below the upper bound poverty line, and are subject to inequalities in access to quality services and opportunities.

The Geneva meeting will be of particular interest to the Alternate Report Coalition-Children’s Rights South Africa (ARC-CRSA), an alliance driven by eleven leading organisations on children’s rights in the country (See below for list of lead organisations). The ARC-CRSA has compiled one of South Africa’s alternate reports that was presented to the UNCRoC in 2016. These alternate reports serve as civil society’s response to the Country Reports that governments are expected to submit every five years under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).

The ARC-CRSA’s report recognises progress in areas such as provision of the child support grant, measures taken to increase access to education and early childhood development services and the drop in child mortality rates since 2006. But the report also raised serious concern in areas such as child protection and violence, birth registration, child poverty and inequality, social grants, the foster care system, failures in the education system, and health care priorities.

The ARC-CRSA hopes that, at the dialogue on 19 and 20 September, the South African Government will be asked to account for ever weakening political leadership and governance structures for realising children’s rights, to address the reasons behind persistent failures in budget allocations and/or spending to realise children’s rights, and the deepening social and economic inequality. These result in children in South Africa having very different lived experiences depending on the circumstances of their birth – the children with the greatest vulnerabilities experience greater exclusion and discrimination.

The dialogue between the UNCRoC and the South African government delegation will be livestreamed at Follow the conversation @ARC_CRSA and using #childrightsSA on twitter.

For more information on the reporting process, please see below. For the South African Government and ARC-CRSA reports, visit

Media are invited to attend a media briefing at the ‪Double Tree by Hilton (Upper Eastside Hotel)

Address: 31 Brickfield Rd, Woodstock, Cape Town, 7935 on Monday 19 September 2016 at 11am. If you are planning to attend please RSVP to Morgan Morris on or 079 522 1142.

For comment contact:

Contacts for media – experts

Name and position Organisation Expertise Contact
Prof Ann Skelton, Director Centre for Child Law, University of Pretoria All areas
082 443 2702
Stefanie Röhrs, Senior researcher Children’s Institute, University of Cape Town All areas
021 650 5391
Samantha Waterhouse, Project head Dullah Omar Institute, University of the Western Cape All areas
084 522 9646
Mandivavarira Mudarikwa, Attorney Legal Resources Centre All areas
Will be in Geneva but available for comment via messages on +27 83 205 0351
Carol Bower, Independent Violence and child protection
061 414 6889
Wessel van den Berg, Child Rights and Positive Parenting portfolio manager Sonke Gender Justice Violence prevention
082 686 7425
Prof Haroon Saloojee, Director Community Paediatrics, Wits Health, ECD, disability
082 863 4274
Lisa Draga, attorney Equal Education Law Centre Education
072 650 0214
Liesl Müller Lawyers for Human Rights Statelessness, birth registration and refugee rights
083 703 2496

Contact list for media – communications specialists

Name and position Organisation Contact
Morgan Morris, Communications officer Children’s Institute, University of Cape Town
079 522 1142
Lynne Barry Mansfield Centre for Child Law, University of Pretoria
061 408 3459
Jacob Nthoiwa, Communications officer Dullah Omar Institute, University of the Western Cape
074 331 1632
Carol Mohlala Lawyers for Human Rights
061 906 0353
Claire Martens Legal Resources Centre
011 838 6601
Karen Robertson, Communications manager Sonke Gender Justice
076 944 9873

About the Alternate Report Coalition – Children’s Rights South AFrica

ARC-CRSA led a process of drafting alternate reports that included 52 authors representing 42 institutions and organisations. The ARC-CRSA is led by the following eleven organisations:

  • Centre for Child Law, University of Pretoria
  • Children’s Institute, University of Cape Town
  • Childline South Africa
  • Community Paediatrics, University of the Witwatersrand
  • Dullah Omar Institute, University of the Western Cape
  • Equal Education Law Centre
  • Lawyers for Human Rights
  • Legal Resources Centre
  • Resources Aimed at the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect
  • Save the Children South Africa
  • Sonke Gender Justice

The value of state reporting on international treaty obligations

  • Reporting encourages state accountability regarding its commitments.
  • It encourages ongoing (evidence-based) monitoring on government progress, both by the state and by civil society.
  • The outcomes (‘concluding observations’ or recommendations to the state) have potential to strengthen in-country advocacy on issues – this depends on the content of the concluding observations and on how well civil society uses these.
  • Section 39 of the South African Constitution requires that international law be considered when interpreting the rights in the Constitution, this means that the concluding observations of the Committee could be used to support arguments to promote children’s rights.
  • Working on alternate reports that cover more than one issue can bring different networks together, encourage consensus building and increase exchanges between specialists in different sectors or thematic areas.


South Africa finally submitted its report on progress in implementing the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child early in 2014 – 12 years late. Once the government report was submitted, civil society organisations could prepare and submit ‘alternate’ reports to the Committee.

Overview of the reporting process

  1. Government report submitted
  2. Civil society ‘alternate’ reports are submitted.
  3. Committee holds ‘pre-session’ meeting with civil society.
  4. Committee prepares a ‘list of issues’ (further questions) for the government based on the government and civil society reports.
  5. Government provides written replies to the list of issues.
  6. Civil society may provide additional written responses to government’s replies to the list of issues.
  7. The Committee hosts a session with the government delegation to engage in dialogue on the issues.

The Committee drafts ‘Concluding Observations’ (recommendations) to the government.