France and Canada: 58th and 59th countries to endorse Safe Schools Declaration
Education International has welcomed the move by France and Canada to endorse the Safe Schools Declaration, committing themselves to protect students, teachers, schools, and universities during times of war.
Education International (EI) and its affiliates congratulate the French and Canadian governments for becoming the latest countries to endorse the international political commitment known as the Safe Schools Declaration.The commendation was issued by the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack(GCPEA), an inter-agency coalition formed in 2010 to address the issue of targeted attacks on education during armed conflict.
Safe from attack
Keeping education safe from the types of attacks the GCPEA works to highlight is the other dimension to the EI/United Nations Girls’ Education school-related gender-based violence initiative.This initiative seeks to keep schools free from violence that can be committed by students, teachers and education support personnel, who can also all be victims of such violence.
The endorsement came during the international conference on the protection of children in armed conflicts being hosted by the French foreign ministry in Paris on 21 February. This conference marked the 10th anniversary of the Paris Principles and Commitments, dedicated to protecting children from unlawful recruitment or use by armed forces or armed groups.
Fifty-nine countries have now endorsed the Safe Schools Declaration, including most of the European Union and NATO member states. The Safe Schools Declaration is an inter-governmental political commitment that facilitates countries to express support for protecting students, teachers, schools, and universities from attack during times of armed conflict. It stresses the importance of continuing education during armed conflict.
By joining the Declaration, countries pledge to restore access to education when schools are bombed, burned, and destroyed during armed conflict, and undertake to make it less likely that students, teachers, and schools will be attacked in the first place. They agree to deter such violence by promising to investigate and prosecute war crimes involving schools, and to minimise the use of schools for military purposes so they do not become targets for attack.
The Declaration was developed through consultations with states in a process led by Norway and Argentina in Geneva, Switzerland, and opened for endorsement at the Oslo Conference on Safe Schools in 2015. The Second International Conference on Safe Schools will be held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on 28-29 March this year.