The protection of children confronting adversity has become one of the central priorities of humanitarian interventions worldwide. The array of child-focused rights and protections established by international, regional and national frameworks provides a normative foundation guiding efforts to facilitate the (re)establishment of more secure conditions. Despite a rhetorical acknowledgement of participation as enhancing children’s provision and protection rights, much of children’s rights activism in Africa continues to emphasise a protectionist approach over an empowering one. Furthermore, actualising children’s rights constitutes a formidable challenge in fragile countries like South Sudan where difficult post-war conditions are compounded by significant discrepancies regarding the treatment of children in the various applicable legal systems. Advancing the view of children’s rights as a living practice moulded by children’s everyday realities, this paper discusses the situation of South Sudan as illustrative of the dilemmas of upholding the right of conflict-affected children in Africa to participate in their own protection.
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