A milestone provision introduced for the first time under the Convention on the Rights of Child,
and subsequently under the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, is children s
right to maximum survival. Meaningful realization of this right, inter alia, imposes an obligation
on states parties to these instruments and other actors to prevent avoidable child mortality
and morbidity during and after childbirth. Since the adoption of the Millennium Development
Goals in 1990, child mortality and morbidity rates have decreased globally from nearly 13
million a year to just over 6 million. This means that the number of children worldwide who
die before the age of five has more than halved in the last quarter of a century. Despite the
significant reductions made, children are still dying, particularly in vulnerable communities.
Concerned with the unfinished agenda of child mortality in many parts of the world and faced
with the fact that a significant portion of under?five mortality is from preventable causes (an
indication that avoidable child fatalities is potentially a violation of human right constituting
social injustice) the international community has recently reached a broader consensus that
under?five mortality is no longer just an issue of public health, but also a human rights concern.
Under?five mortality as a human rights concern is now gaining momentum.
A human rights?based approach to reducing child mortality and morbidity draws attention to
barriers to successfully addressing this problem, and highlights the range of actors responsible
for reducing child mortality. It also provides a legal framework to strengthen public health
efforts, facilitates identification of child populations at risk, and enables analysis of gaps in
protection, participation and accountability. In this way, applying human rights to child survival
not only helps governments comply with their obligations, but also contributes to improving
survival of children.
In this thesis, I interrogate the currency attained by human rights?based approaches to
reducing child mortality and morbidity, within the context of Ethiopia. I examine Ethiopia s
normative and institutional child health?related framework critically, measure achievements and identify challenges for meaningful implementation of child survival and its complimentary
rights. I conclude that there are positive signs to demonstrate that Ethiopia has started to
comply with its obligation to realize children s survival rights. Despite these achievements, I
find that current laws, policies and strategies lack a coherent conceptual framework and do
not employ an intelligible human rights lens' that would allow government to respond to child
health issues. In practice, preventable newborn deaths remain the main challenge.
Furthermore, the country is a place of stark contrasts in terms of child survival rates. Relying
on the requirements of human rights law, I conclude by arguing the potential for the
operationalization of the human rights?based model to further reduce or eliminate child
mortality in Ethiopia, post?2015.