Child Marriage in Nigeria: From Global Social Policy and International Law to National and Local Legislation and Policy

Monday, 11 July 2016: 14:30
Location: Hörsaal 11 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
This paper addresses two questions related to global social policy, international human rights, social welfare, and gender discrimination. First, how do international conventions and covenants (embodying social policy frameworks and normative prescriptions) influence legislation and policy at the country level?  Second, what are the pathways of diffusion, contestation, and translation from global social policy to national and local legislation and policy? These questions are answered by analysing the case of Child Marriage in Nigeria in three substantive sections.

First, the interaction between international and national law is examined. A comparison of the CEDAW, CRC, and African- and Islamic-specific conventions on the issue of Child Marriage is presented. The role and values of supra-national institutions (African Union, Committee of the Rights of the Child, etc) in shaping national legislation and policy is explored. Furthermore, given these influences, the evolution of legislation and jurisprudence in Nigeria at the national level is assessed.

Secondly, Nigeria being a federal country, the issue of Domestication, i.e. translating federal legislation into state laws, is explored. This process is similar to the reception and translation from international to national law and policy. This governance topic is complemented with a review of the agency and interaction of transnational actors (International NGOS, UN agencies, donors, etc.) and local counterparts in the domestication process.

Finally, Nigeria has allowed customary and religious law to exist. Consequently, changes through time in the interaction among these different types of legal traditions are investigated. These traditions are supra-national too and provide a normative framework (e.g. regarding social welfare and gender) to the production of national and state-level legislation and policy. Thus, national and local legislation, through a process of contestation and adaptation, reflect competing global social policy prescriptions regarding Child Marriage in Nigeria.

A concluding section summaries the arguments and suggestions for future research.