Draft Lucens Guidelines
for Protecting Schools and Universities from Military Use during Armed Conflict
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.
GCPEA is currently encouraging states to champion the draft Guidelines by:
- Providing technical and diplomatic support to help finalize the Guidelines.
- Once finalized, 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 Guidelines. Read additional public statements issued by supportive states, which reference the importance of the Guidelines. GCPEA is also seeking ways to include non-state armed groups in endorsing and implementing the Guidelines.
As one of its targets, the #EducationCountdown campaign to achieve universal primary education by the end of 2015 aims to secure commitments from 50 countries to support and implement the Guidelines. To join the campaign, you can send a letter to UN Ambassadors urging their government's support.
DEVELOPMENT OF 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.
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 Arabic, Español, and Français.
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.