GCPEA Accountability Consultant

Aplication Deadline: May 25, 2022
Anticpated Start Date:

 Consultant to Research National Accountability for Attacks on Education (June- August 2022) 


Since 2011, the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack (GCPEA) has significantly contributed to research and advocacy on attacks on schools, universities, their students and staff by armed forces and non-state armed groups in situations of armed conflict. Targeted and indiscriminate attacks on education and military use of schools and universities are all too often a devastating consequence of armed conflict. They cause death, severe injury, and psychological harm, and reduce access to, and the quality of, education, which can ultimately impact the long-term social and economic development of communities and societies. 

According to research by GCPEA, more than 11,000 attacks on education facilities, students, and educators took place between 2015 and 2019. In the same period, armed forces and armed groups used schools and universities for military purposes, such as bases, barracks, firing positions, armories, and detention centers, in 34 countries. In 2020, GCPEA recorded over 2,400 reports of attacks on education and military use. 

Attacks on education violate the right to life, liberty and security of person, as well as the right to education, amongst other human rights. During situations of armed conflict, attacks on schools and education personnel can violate international humanitarian and criminal law and may constitute war crimes as set out in the 1949 Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols, the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, and customary international humanitarian law. 

Effective accountability and access to justice, including remedy and redress, are key measures to deter future attacks against educational facilities, students, and teachers during armed conflict. The state has an obligation to investigate violations of national and international law and bring suspected perpetrators to trial. Commanders have a duty to prevent such violations, to make sure their troops know their obligations, and to initiate disciplinary action or punishment whenever laws are violated. A country’s legislature has a duty to provide effective penal sanctions for breaches of international human rights and humanitarian law. 

Amongst other instruments, the commitment to accountability for education-related violations is firmly embedded in the Safe Schools Declaration, which calls upon endorsing States “to investigate allegations of applicable national and international law and, where appropriate, duly prosecute perpetrators.” It is also aligned with UN Security Council Resolution 2601 (2021), which “condemns the lack of accountability for violations and abuses, committed against civilians connected to schools, including children and teachers, in armed conflict, and condemns attacks and threats of attacks against schools and educational facilities in contravention of international humanitarian law, which in turn may contribute to the recurrence of these acts; and urges Member States to ensure that such violations are investigated and those responsible duly prosecuted”. 

The International Criminal Court has begun to consider attacks against education when conducting investigations, issuing arrest warrants, and making trial judgements, including in Afghanistan, the Central African Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Georgia, Mali, Sudan, and Uganda. At the national level, perpetrators of attacks on education have been put on trial, including in Burkina Faso, Kenya, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, among others. 

Despite these efforts, perpetrators are rarely held to account for their actions, emboldening them to continue committing attacks against students, educators, and educational facilities with impunity. GCPEA is commissioning research to inform an evidence-based advocacy strategy to strengthen accountability for attacks on education and justice for those impacted. 


GCPEA is currently seeking a Consultant to conduct research on prosecutions of individuals in national courts for attacks against students, educators, schools, or universities in the context of armed conflict or in similar situations of violence and insecurity (collectively referred to as attacks on education). The Consultant will engage in a desk-study to analyse existing cases and identify good practice that can inform strategies and solutions to overcome or mitigate barriers to holding perpetrators to account. The final paper will include two or more case studies and recommendations on how to effectively prosecute attacks on education at the national level. It may draw on case studies that are not featured in the paper for developing recommendations. 

The ultimate aim of the paper, and the project as a whole, is to better position GCPEA to advocate with national governments to take concrete steps to 1) criminalise attacks on institutions dedicated to education as a specific war crime; 2) bring cases of attacks on education to national and military courts and monitor legal compliance; 3) ensure the inclusion of dedicated, child-specific documentation and investigation expertise in potential investigations of attacks against education; and 4) scale up good practice in achieving accountability for attacks on education, applying it more systematically and adapting it across contexts. 

Approximate Duration of Assignment: 

June 1 – September 15 2022: 30 working days at up to $500 per day, depending on experience. 

Duties and Responsibilities: 

Reporting directly to the GCPEA Executive Director and working in close collaboration with the GCPEA Accountability Advisory Group, which includes experts in international human rights and humanitarian law, child protection and education in emergencies, the Consultant will:

1. Conduct a desk-study reviewing prosecutions in national courts of individuals for attacks against students, teachers, schools, or universities. The research will also involve telephone interviews to better understand the process and outcomes of the trials; 

2. Prepare a paper with two or more case studies that summarizes the investigations and the prosecutions, explaining gaps as well as good practice, and offering recommendations for national prosecutions in other contexts; 

Deliverables and Approximate Timeline: 

  • June 30, 2022: Consultant submits the first draft of an approximately 10- page paper that provides two or more case studies on national accountability for attacks on education and recommendations. 
  • July 1-20, 2022: GCPEA’s Accountability Advisory Group, comprised of Steering Committee members, reviews the first draft 
  • July 30, 2022: Consultant submits the second draft of the paper, incorporating feedback from GCPEA’s Advisory Group 
  • August 15-30 2022: GCPEA’s Steering Committee reviews the second draft of the paper 
  • September 15, 2022: Consultant submits the final draft of the paper, incorporating feedback from GCPEA’s Steering Committee. 

Experience and Skills 

1. Advanced university degree (JD or Master’s degree or equivalent) in the field of international humanitarian, human rights, or criminal law. 

2. Significant empirical research experience on international criminal law or domestic prosecution of international humanitarian law, including desk research and, ideally, on-site research. 

3. Excellent legal research, analysis, interviewing, and writing skills. 

4. Significant experience writing accessible research reports and making practical, policy-oriented, and evidence-based recommendations. 

5. Experience working on human rights or humanitarian issues in conflict situations, or prosecuting or defending criminal cases, is desirable. 

6. Fluency in English is required. Proven ability to conduct legal research in another language would be an asset. 

7. Excellent interpersonal skills and ability to quickly incorporate feedback from different individuals and organizations. 

How to Apply 

Qualified applicants should email the following materials to gcpea@protectingeducation.org (addressed to the GCPEA Executive Director, Ms. Diya Nijhowne) with the subject “Consultancy on National Accountability for Attacks on Education”: 

1. Cover letter (2-page maximum); 

2. Curriculum vitae; and 

3. Short unedited writing sample (5-page maximum). 

The application deadline is May 25, 2022 but applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis until the position is filled.