Building the investment case for children

The extractive industries are the most important developmental opportunity and challenge in Mozambique today.  There is great potential for the coal, gas and other mineral resources to act as a driver for development.  There are also large risks involved.  Tete province, the current centre of mining exploration and production, is already one of the poorest provinces in the country with 60% of children experiencing deprivation-based poverty: only 69% of children are in primary school and 48% of children are stunted.  The mining sector is already causing substantial price inflation in the province, particularly for food, which will impact poverty rates and the nutritional status of children.  Anecdotal evidence from families in resettlement areas indicate even less access to basic health services and education, while long term environmental effects may lead to even more precarious livelihoods for the populations in and around the mines in the years to come.

UNICEF Mozambique is developing a strategy to protect children and their families from any harmful impacts of the extractive industries, including those that may arise from relocation and resettlement of communities, the environmental impacts of exploration and extraction of resources and ensure their access to justice, if any violations occur.  At the same time our long term partnerships, with the Ministries of Finance and Planning as well as with the IFIs and donor partners here, have us well positioned to engage on the potential allocations of national wealth created by the extraction of non-renewable natural resources through high quality Government social development programmes.  Our strategic entry point in advocacy to date has been linked to ensuring all Mozambican children and their families benefit equitably from their “national inheritance.”

But what about you?  Where do you stand on the resource curse versus blessing debate?   What impacts have you seen in your country?  in your thematic area?  Let’s join forces to bring sustainable development and equitable access to the resource wealth to future generations!

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  1. avatar Elizabeth Fitzgerald,

    Mozambique ratified and is a party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Mozambique also ratified and is a party to the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child and the African [Banjul] Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. All of these treaties include required obligations of the member state countries to benefit children. Therefore, Mozambique has a legal, non-negotiable, requirement to use its resources, including natural resources, for the benefit of children.

    The African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child notes in its Preamble that “the child, due to the needs of his physical and mental development requires particular care with regard to health, physical, mental, moral and social development and requires legal protection[.]” Thus, Mozambique has already determined that children’s rights should be enforced and protected with great care.

    Article 4 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child requires member states to “undertake all appropriate legislative, administrative, and other measures for implementation of the rights recognized in the present Convention. With regard to economic, social and cultural rights, State Parties shall undertake such measure to the maximum extent of their available resources . . . .” In addition, Article 6 states that member states “shall ensure to the maximum extent possible the survival and development of the child.” This treaty requires Mozambique to utilize its natural resource wealth, to the maximum extent possible, for the rights of the child. The African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child also requires this in Article 5, and includes the protection of the child as well. Article 26 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child states that each child has the right to “social insurance[.]” Thus, a “child tax” whereby a certain amount or percentage of natural resource profits goes directly to children, based on the concept of children having a natural inheritance, is both appropriate and a great example of a country using its available resources to meet this treaty’s requirements.

    Article 1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights enforces the concept that children have an inherent right to natural resource wealth. Article 47 of the treaty states that there is an “inherent right of all peoples to enjoy and utilize fully and freely their natural wealth and resources.” In addition, Article 1 of this treaty states that “[a]ll peoples may, for their own ends, freely dispose of their natural wealth and resources . . . based upon the principle of mutual benefit[.]” The African [Banjul] Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights reinforces this concept in Article 22, where it states that “[a]ll peoples shall have the right to their economic, social and cultural development with due regard to their freedom and identity and in the equal enjoyment of the common heritage of mankind.” All of these human rights treaties emphasize that citizens of a country have a legal right to the country’s natural wealth and resources, including revenue from natural resources.