Geneva actors gather in support of Safe Schools Declaration, as 4th International Conference begins in Abuja with in-person and virtual sessions

Geneva Global Hub for Education in Emergencies, October 26, 2021

Argentina, Nigeria, Norway, Spain, Switzerland and the Geneva Global hub for Education in Emergencies, Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack and Save the Children hosted a local meet-up linked to the 4th International Conference for the Safe Schools Declaration taking place in Abuja, Nigeria and virtually. The discussion was opened by the Ambassadors from Nigeria, Norway and Spain, moderated by Geneva Call’s Deputy Head of Region for MENA, included technical experts from numerous Permanent Missions to the UN in Geneva, the UN as well as civil society organisations working in education in emergencies, human rights, and protection. The event was held under Chatham House rules, in order to facilitate a fruitful and genuine exchange of experiences and opinions on the topics covered.

The conversation was framed around three subjects. First, the opportunities and best practices associated with implementation of the Safe Schools Declaration (SSD). Second, the challenges and limitations standing in the way of endorsement and implementation. Finally, participants discussed the unique added value of Geneva, including the multitude of actors and sectors present here as well as the numerous multilateral processes such as the Human Rights Council, and how to make best use of this to further advance the Safe Schools agenda.

Several participants spoke about the importance of mobilising all of the forums and mechanisms – especially Geneva-based ones – to protect education in humanitarian situations. There was also considerable emphasis on the need for effective training on International Humanitarian Law among all stakeholders, including teachers and educators themselves, militaries and armed groups, and officials.

The Deputy Permanent Representative of Argentina as well as Save the Children’s Geneva Advocacy Office Director provided closing remarks. Participants were then invited to watch a video recapping the three previous conferences and inviting them to join the Abuja conference virtually. The conference is meant to be a first step, a starting point to inspire commitment, improve understanding and implement standards worldwide, across contexts and regions.

The conference in Abuja officially opened on Monday 25 October and runs until 27 October. The Conference includes three panel discussions on (1) the implementation of the Guidelines, (2) the continuity of education in armed conflict, and (3) the way forward: investigating allegations of violations, prosecuting perpetrators and providing assistance to victims. There will also be a special discussion to explore the experiences of Ministries of Defence in implementing the SSD as well as another one focused on the Sahel experience and challenges. For more information, go to the virtual platform at https://www.ssdconference.com/. Registration is still open so join the discussion now online!