GCPEA PRESS RELEASE

El Salvador Endorses Safe Schools Declaration: 71st Country to Commit to Protect Education in Wartime

(New York, November 15, 2017) – El Salvador has become the 71st country to sign the Safe Schools Declaration and commit to protect schools, universities, students, teachers, and academics during armed conflict, the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack (GCPEA) said today. The Safe Schools Declaration is a political commitment championed by Argentina and Norway. By signing, countries agree to take specific steps to reduce the risk of attacks on education.

“El Salvador makes 10 Latin American countries that have endorsed the Safe Schools Declaration. More countries in the region, notably Peru, Colombia, and Mexico, should follow suit,” said Zama Neff, co-chair of GCPEA. “Latin America has been at the forefront of international efforts to protect children—it was the first region where all countries ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its protocol banning the use of child soldiers. The Safe Schools Declaration is an opportunity for the region to continue its leadership role.”

GCPEA reports that a series of attacks on schools and universities has occurred in 28 countries experiencing armed conflict and insecurity since 2013. The use of schools and universities by armed forces and armed groups is also widespread. 

Governments that endorse the Declaration commit to using the Guidelines for Protecting Schools and Universities from Military Use during Armed Conflict as a practical tool to guide their behavior during military operations. Avoiding military use of schools and universities is a key way in which armed forces and armed groups can reduce the risks faced by children and young people in armed conflict, including death, severe injury, child recruitment, sexual exploitation and abuse, and psychological trauma. Girls and women are often disproportionately impacted by attacks on education and military use of schools.

The 71 endorsing countries are from all regions of the world, and include countries that are at war and at peace. Two-thirds of NATO countries, three-quarters of European Union members, and one-third of African Union members have joined.