Right now, in war zones across the world, children are living through unspeakable horrors with devastating and life-changing consequences. 1 in 5 children in today’s world lives in a conflict zone. Children are more at risk of harm today than at any time in the last 20 years.
Conflict situations trigger and exacerbate sexual and gender based violence. Girls and boys under the age of 18 make up the majority of SGBV survivors. We will therefore step up our efforts in this domain. A key milestone will be the international conference to end SGBV in humanitarian crises, hosted together with Somalia and other partners, which will take place in Oslo 23-24 May.
In countries affected by war, going to school can be dangerous. Schools and universities have increasingly become targets of violent attacks for political, military, ideological or other reasons. This is unacceptable.
Education is a human right. Education is also fundamental for development. For the individual development of each child, and for the development of conflict-ridden societies and countries as they strive towards a future of peace and prosperity.
In 2015, Norway initiated a process leading to the adoption of The Safe Schools Declaration. As of January this year, 86 countries have endorsed the Declaration, including 22 African countries.
I would like to specifically recognise the important work done by AU- International Centre for Girls and Women’s Education in Africa (AU/CIEFFA), by drawing attention to the challenges related to education in conflict in general, and by promoting the endorsement and implementation of the Safe Schools Declaration in particular.
Chair, I would like ask the panel about the status of the implementation of the Safe School Declaration in countries and what are the main obstacles to implementation.
Nelson Mandela reminded us that “there can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children”. Norway is committed to doing its share to strengthen the protection of all children in situations of crisis and conflict. For our children, and for our common future.
Permanent Mission of Norway to the African Union
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia