The convention on the rights of the child and the cultural legitimacy of children's rights in Africa: Some reflections.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child has been almost universally ratified. The author argues that its implementation depends to a large extent on the level of cultural legitimacy accorded to children's rights norms in a society. In Africa, children are seen as a valuable part of society. Despite this, cultural practices that are detrimental to children exist, such as female genital mutilation and inappropriate initiation rites. The Convention is underpinned by four principles: non-discrimination, participation, survival and development and the best interests of the child. Each of these principles can come into conflict with cultural practices. However, culture is not static and harmful practices can be overcome. This requires that the reasons for the existence of a practice are clearly understood, that solutions are found in consultation with practising communities and that adequate social support is given to individuals who choose to abandon the practice. (author's)