Four new states endorse the Safe Schools Declaration

Education International welcomes the move by Djibouti, Macedonia, Peru, and San Marino to endorse the Safe Schools Declaration, committing themselves to protect students, teachers, schools, and universities during times of violent conflict.

Seventy-nine signatory countries

Djibouti, Macedonia, Peru, and San Marino have become the latest countries to endorse the Safe Schools Declaration, bringing the total of countries joining the Declaration to 79, including 21 African Union, 35 Council of Europe, and 14 Organisation of American States members.

The endorsements were announced on 9 July, during the United Nations Security Council open debate on children and armed conflict, which focused on protecting children in war as a means of preventing future conflict.

“Signing the Safe Schools Declaration is an important step to promoting peace: by using the Declaration, countries can not only save the lives of students and  teachers today, but can play a role in preventing conflict tomorrow,” said Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack (GCPEA) Director Diya Nijhowne. “By committing to adopt conflict-sensitive approaches to education, for example, governments that have endorsed the Declaration build education systems that consciously avoid exacerbating divisions that drive conflict.”

Argentina delivered a statement on behalf of countries that have endorsed the Declaration calling on all Member States, and particularly members of the Security Council, to “recognize the Declaration as a tool to protect children, and to join the Safe Schools Declaration community.” The statement stressed that, “continued access to safe education can help protect children and youth from the worst impacts of armed conflict and can also help to prevent the emergence of new ones.”

Third International Conference on Safe Schools in Spain in 2019

In addition, the statement of the endorsing states also welcomed the commitment of the Government of Spain to host the Third International Conference on Safe Schools in 2019, and expressed hope that all UN Member States would attend.

Resolution on children and armed conflict adopted

For the first time since 2015, a resolution on children and armed conflict was adopted at the Security Council debate. Resolution 2427 urges Member States, United Nations bodies, and civil society to take specifically into account girls’ equal access to education. Moreover, it expresses deep concern about the military use of schools and encourages Member States to take concrete measures to deter the use of schools by armed forces and non-State armed groups in contravention of applicable international law; calls on UN country-level task forces to enhance monitoring and reporting on military use of schools; and urges Member States to ensure that attacks on schools are investigated and those responsible duly prosecuted.

Background

The Safe Schools Declaration is a political commitment originally championed by Argentina and Norway. It was first opened for endorsement at the Oslo Conference on Safe Schools in May 2015.

By endorsing the Safe Schools Declaration, states commit to endorse and use the Guidelines for Protecting Schools and Universities from Military Use during Armed Conflict, as a practical tool to guide their behaviour during military operations. The Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack, GCPEA’s recent publication, Education under Attack 2018, found that military use of schools occurred in 29 countries between 2013-2017, putting those schools at risk of attack by opposing forces, or at a minimum, causing widespread drop-outs by students, particularly girls, whose parents often remove them from school for fear of sexual abuse by soldiers; absenteeism by teachers; and damage to infrastructure and educational materials.

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