MDG 5, HUMAN RIGHTS, AND MATERNAL HEALTH IN AFRICA
care for mothers” and “to develop preventive health care, guidance for
parents and family planning education and services.” 21 For countries in
Africa, the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child imposes
similar obligations. 22
The significance of these treaties stems from their potential
transformative impact on the health and wellbeing of mothers throughout
Africa, a theme pursued in considerable detail in the fifth section of this
work. 23 In contrast to reliance on non-binding frameworks, these treaties
transform claims relating to maternal health to human rights enforceable
against the government. In other words, the citizenry is empowered to
demand quality care and related goods and services as a right enforceable
against the State, thereby transforming what was once conceptualized as a
“technical concern” to a “moral and political [as well as a legal]
imperative.” 24 By injecting “an international and moral dimension” to the
plight of women, these treaties contribute to wrestling maternal health
concerns out of the exclusively parochial grip of sovereign national
authorities and placing it firmly and squarely on the international agenda. 25
The importance of this transformative impact rests on the fact that for
populations languishing under the agonizing pangs of irresponsible
governance, international legal and policy frameworks, and the oversight
that comes along with them may be the only useful alternative means of
attending to their needs. Nonetheless, the fact that even with the
widespread signing and ratification of these treaties, key health statistics
relating to the health of mothers and other dimensions of wellbeing in
Africa continue to plunge stridently testifies to the vacuousness of
socioeconomic rights in resource deficit settings. 26 But, then, the agreement
on substantial assistance from affluent nations to poorer ones, in the nature
of increased official development assistance (ODA), explicit in MDG 8,
might crystallize to a productive weapon in terms of supplying the “missing
link” (resources) in country efforts to halt deteriorating state of mothers’
health and wellbeing within their respective territories. 27 U.N. Secretary-
chapter= 4&lang=en. The CRC has been ratified by 193 countries. Id. Only the United
States and Somalia are yet to ratify the CRC though both countries signed the treaty. Id.
21. African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, OAU Doc.
CAB/LEG/24.9/49 (1990) Art. 14 (entered into force Nov. 29, 1999) [hereinafter ACRWC].
22. Id. arts. 14 (d), (f).
23. WORLD HEALTH REPORT 2005, supra note 10, at xiii.
25. Id. at 3.
26. Nnamuchi & Ortuanya, supra note 4, at 198.
27. See id. (analyzing MDG 8 in terms of its utility in aiding poor countries to attain
their MDGs obligations).