Denmark 64th State to Endorse Safe Schools Declaration


(New York, May 3, 2017) – By endorsing the Safe Schools Declaration, Denmark has become the 64th country to join a rapidly expanding community of states committed to protecting education during armed conflict, said the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack (GCPEA).

The Safe Schools Declaration, an inter-governmental political commitment developed in a state-led process headed by Norway and Argentina, was opened for endorsement in Oslo on May 29, 2015. 

“In under two years, the Safe Schools Declaration has been signed by a majority of NATO, European Union, and Council of Europe member states,” said Diya Nijhowne, GCPEA director. “By endorsing the Declaration, Denmark is joining a growing global movement committed to tackling the targeting of schools, universities, students, teachers, and academics during armed conflict.”

The United Nations Security Council has recognized the devastating consequences of attacks on education and military use of schools. In a series of resolutions, including 1998 (2011) and 2143 (2014), it has urged all parties to armed conflict to respect the civilian character of schools in accordance with international humanitarian law. Most recently, in resolution 2225 (2015), it encouraged member states to take concrete measures to deter the use of schools by armed forces and armed groups in contravention of applicable international law. 

Denmark’s endorsement of the Declaration heeds the Security Council’s call. It also follows the release, last September, of the Danish Armed Forces’ new military manual, which includes progressive protections for schools in conflict. The manual urges military actors to exercise restraint with respect to using schools and other education institutions, which is in line with the Guidelines for Protecting Schools and Universities from Military Use during Armed Conflict. By endorsing the Safe Schools Declaration, countries commit to endorse and use the Guidelines.

“By incorporating protections for education into its military manual, Denmark is showing by example how international commitments, like the Security Council resolutions and the Safe Schools Declaration, can be put into practice,” said Nijhowne. “Implementing these commitments is critical to making safe schools a reality for all.”

GCPEA has produced a series of briefing papers discussing how to protect education from attack in practice. The latest is a Technical Guide: What Teachers and School Administrators Can Do to Protect Education from Attack