Romania’s Endorsement of the Safe Schools Declaration Signals Commitment from One Third of the Globe
GCPEA PRESS RELEASE, May 26, 2017
(New York, May 26, 2017) – Romania has become the 65th country to endorse the Safe Schools Declaration and join a global movement to protect learning at all levels during armed conflict, said the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack (GCPEA). Romania announced its endorsement on May 24th, the same day that the Committee on the Rights of the Child reviewed its country report in Geneva.
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.
“Romania’s endorsement means that one third of UN member states have now joined the Safe Schools Declaration, just days ahead of the Declaration’s second anniversary,” said Diya Nijhowne, GCPEA director. “This signals a shift in international resolve to keep schools and universities safe in times of war, and promises not only a brighter future for students and their communities, but also to save lives.”
The Safe Schools Declaration includes commitments to endorse and use the Guidelines for Protecting Schools and Universities from Military Use during Armed Conflict; strengthen monitoring and reporting of attacks; investigate allegations of attacks and prosecute perpetrators where appropriate; develop and promote conflict-sensitive education policies; and continue safe education during armed conflict.
Implementation of these commitments is imperative, now more than ever. Recent GCPEA research has found that a series of attacks on schools has occurred in at least 21 countries experiencing armed conflict and insecurity since 2013. In addition, since 2013, armed forces and armed groups have used schools and universities for military purposes, such as bases, barracks, firing positions, armories, and detention centers in at least 24 countries experiencing armed conflict around the world, placing these institutions at risk of attack by opposing forces.
“Children and young people are facing a watershed moment with a critical mass of countries committed to ensuring safe education in armed conflict,” said Nijhowne. “The rest of the world should follow this lead and commitments should be translated into action if the full potential of this moment is to be realized, and education safeguarded for all.”
The UN Secretary General has also highlighted the urgency to protect against attacks on schools, universities, their students and staff. In his report to the Security Council on the protection of civilians in armed conflict, released earlier this month, he urged member states to endorse the Safe Schools Declaration.