Draft Lucens Guidelines

 for Protecting Schools and Universities from Military Use during Armed Conflict

A girl student leaves al-Furadh School at the end of the day. © 2012 Priyanka Motaparthy - Human Rights Watch (Yemen)

Around the world, in places experiencing armed conflict, schools and universities are becoming part of the battlefield. The use of schools and universities as bases, barracks, firing positions, and armories may transform places of learning into legitimate military objectives under international law, thus endangering students and teachers, and rendering their educational infrastructure and materials vulnerable to attack.

The presence of fighting forces in schools and universities also often leads to students dropping out, reduced enrollment, lower rates of transition to higher levels of education, and overall poorer educational attainment. Girls are often disproportionately affected.

The draft Lucens Guidelines have been drawn up with the aim of better protecting schools and universities from use by armed groups for military purposes, and to minimize the negative impact that armed conflict has on students’ safety and education. They provide concrete guidance to states and non-state armed groups for the planning and execution of military operations. They may also serve as a tool for organizations engaged in monitoring, programming, and advocacy related to the conduct of armed conflicts.

States and intergovernmental bodies are urged to encourage all parties to armed conflicts to act in accordance with these Guidelines, and to help enable them to do so.

To learn more about the draft Lucens Guidelines and what they aim to achieve, read the newly released question-and-answer document.

This video is also available in: ArabicDutchFrenchGermanJapaneseNorwegian, and Spanish.



GCPEA is currently encouraging states to champion the draft Guidelines by:

  • Formally endorsing the Guidelines and encouraging other states to do the same.
  • Implementing the Guidelines in their own legislation or military doctrine.

Norway has announced that it will lead the process to finalize, endorse, and implement the GuidelinesRead additional public statements issued by supportive states, which reference the importance of the GuidelinesGCPEA is also seeking ways to include non-state armed groups in endorsing and implementing the Guidelines.


The draft Lucens Guidelines were developed through an extensive consultation process:

  • In May 2012, in Geneva, GCPEA convened a roundtable with experts from governments, militaries, UN agencies, and international and human rights organizations.
  • Based on recommendations from that meeting, GCPEA commissioned a former British military officer to prepare the first draft of the Guidelines.
  • In November 2012, GCPEA convened a larger expert consultation in Lucens, Switzerland, with representatives from 12 states, as well as the human rights and humanitarian law community.
  • A drafting committee, including state representatives and other experts, was then formed to further refine the draft Guidelines.


Questions and Answers on the Draft Lucens GuidelinesRead Questions and Answers on the Draft Lucens Guidelines.

Read Lessons in War: Military Use of Schools and Other Education Institutions during Conflict, a GCPEA study that identifies cases of military use in 24 countries spread across four continents between 2005 and 2012. Also available in ArabicEspañol, and Français.

Download our brochure or learn about our initiative on protecting schools and universities from military use. 

Read the thematic essay, "Military use of schools and universities: changing behaviour", from Education under Attack 2014.

Students and educators who wish to add their voice to support the end of military use of schools can contribute photos and slogans to the website EMUScampaign.org.