Education International welcomes the move by Romania to endorse the Safe Schools Declaration, a commitment to protect students, teachers, schools, and universities during times of war.
With Romania’s endorsement of the Safe Schools Declaration on 24 May, the same day that the Committee on the Rights of the Child reviewed its country report in Geneva, Switzerland, one-third of the world’s countries have now committed to the global movement to protect learning at all levels during armed conflict.
Implementation of these commitments is imperative, now more than ever, as recent research by the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack (GCPEA) has found that schools have been attacked 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, armouries, and detention centres in at least 24 countries experiencing armed conflict around the world, placing these institutions at risk of attack by opposing forces. The GCPEA is an inter-agency coalition formed in 2010 to address the issue of targeted attacks on education during armed conflict.
The UN Secretary General, António Guterres, has also highlighted the urgent need 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 in May, Guterres urged member states to endorse the Declaration.
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 in May 2015. The Second International Conference on Safe Schools was held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, from 28-29 March this year.
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
· Continue safe education during armed conflict