Together with UNICEF and the UN Office of the Special Advisor for Children Affected by Armed Conflict (CAAC), UNOAU supported the development of a Child Protection program in the AU Peace and Security Department (PSD). While the AU housed the Secretariat for the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC) which is enforced by the African Committee of Experts, it did not have the operational capacity either in its Peace Support Operations or in the PSD to support the protection of children.
To create this capacity, UNICEF and UNCAAC signed a Declaration of Intent with PSD in September 2013 to support AU efforts to develop a CAAC program. As a result of this agreement, the AU hired its first Child Protection Adviser who developed a three-year Strategic Plan for PSD which was validated in February 2015. The Plan focuses on integrating child protection into PSD planning, strengthening training, supporting state ratification of the ACRWC, developing the capacity to respond to state requests for support, particularly establishing Child Protection Units (CPUs) within national security services, and enhancing the capacity of PSOs to protect children.
Although the AU CAAC Plan is young, the AU has already registered several accomplishments including deploying the first PSO Child Protection Officer to AMISOM, chairing the meeting of the Paris Principles Steering Committee and holding two open PSC sessions to discuss CAAC which resulted in the decision to appoint an AU Special Envoy for CAAC. The AU has also held several meetings with the Somali government to establish CPUs within its security services including conducting a South-South visit to Uganda to allow the UPDF to share their experiences in protecting children with the Somali National Army. The AU PSD is now also able to participate in ACRWC investigation missions including to South Sudan and CAR.
UNOAU continues to support the AU CAAC program including ensuring that CAAC issues are reflected in the planning of current AU PSOs, including within the new task force structures against the LRA and Boko Haram. UNOAU is also works to make sure that efforts of the UN CAAC program are coordinated with other UN agencies and that the funding modality supporting the program is sustainable.
UNOAU supports AU Counter Terrorism efforts and liaises with UN agencies, namely CTITF, CTED, UNICRI, UNODC as well as other partners to promote a coordinated approach.