80 states have now joined the Safe Schools Declaration
GCPEA PRESS RELEASE, July 31, 2018
(July 31, 2018 – New York) The Principality of Monaco has announced its endorsement of the Safe Schools Declaration, becoming the 80th country to commit to safeguarding education during armed conflict, said the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack (GCPEA) today. More than one third of all United Nations (UN) member states and the majority of the UN Security Council members have already taken this critical step towards ensuring education for all.
“With Monaco, 36 Council of Europe members and 24 members of the Organization of La Francophonie have endorsed the Declaration,” said Diya Nijhowne, GCPEA director.
“This widespread support for the Safe Schools Declaration should serve as a clarion call for the remaining members to unite in these crucial efforts to protect students and educators living in war.”
Monaco’s endorsement of the Declaration followed the recent UN Security Council open debate on children and armed conflict in New York on July 9. Attacks on, and military use of schools, emerged as an important issue at the debate, with support for the Safe Schools Declaration mentioned in 36 statements. Resolution 2427, adopted at the debate, encouraged all states to take concrete measures to deter the military use of schools. Endorsement and implementation of the Safe Schools Declaration is a positive response to this encouragement. Monaco expressed its strong political support for protection of education in armed conflict by co-sponsoring the resolution, along with almost 100 other member states.
GCPEA’s recent publication, Education under Attack 2018, found that military use of schools occurred in at least 29 countries between 2013-2017. Military use of educational infrastructure can endanger students and teachers by putting schools at risk of attack by opposing forces. In addition, it can cause widespread drop-out by students, particularly girls, whose parents may remove them from school for fear of violence or sexual abuse by soldiers or armed groups.
Moreover, the research found that women and girls were directly targeted by armed forces or groups because of opposition to girls education, or through sexual violence, in at least 18 countries. Even when not specifically targeted because of their gender, traditional gender norms may result in women and girls being the first to leave schools and universities when they are attacked or used by soldiers, and the last to return.
This autumn, diplomatic missions in New York will have at least two opportunities to demonstrate their commitment to improve protection for education in conflict, by announcing their support for the Safe Schools Declaration.
First, on 24 September, the UN General Assembly will attend the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit, a high-level plenary meeting on global peace to mark the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth. Ensuring that all students have access to safe, quality education that promotes respect for all communities, rather than triggering conflict between them, is the best way to nurture the peacebuilders of tomorrow.
Second, in October, Bolivia will host the UN Security Council open debate on Women, Peace, and Security. Ensuring that women and girls have access to safe, quality education is also a critical first step to removing the obstacles that impede women’s full participation in conflict prevention and resolution, and peacebuilding.
“Upcoming international events provide key opportunities for states to affirm their commitment to protecting education in armed conflict by announcing their endorsement of the Safe Schools Declaration and steps they are taking towards implementation,” said Nijhowne. “The Safe Schools Declaration, by supporting the continuation of safe education in war, helps to maintain a sense of normalcy, foster resilience, and promote reconciliation amongst students and educators; all important for building just, peaceful, and inclusive societies in the future.”