Press Statement on Protection of Education in Conflict

Press Statement by HRH Crown Prince of Norway on Protection of Education in Conflict, 6 December 2021.

Good afternoon,

Today I will address the UN Security Council in the format of an Arria Formula meeting. I am honoured to give Norway’s position on one of its key priorities as an elected member of the Security Council. 

Norwegian development, human rights and humanitarian policies are based on the notion that equal access to quality education is a fundamental right. The provision of education is both the responsibility of, and of great benefit to, states and communities. It is against this backdrop that Norway has brought the issue of protection of education to the Council. 

Few things are more important for children and young people than safe access to education. This is particularly true in areas affected by conflict.

Education can be life-saving. The knowledge and skills acquired in schools and universities cannot be taken away. We must ensure that schools and universities are safe spaces.

The future of children living in conflict depends on education. And our common future depends on their access to education. 

Children’s education is a prerequisite for rebuilding communities after conflict. Therefore, the unanimous adoption of resolution 2601 by the Security Council is an important landmark. For the first time the Security Council has adopted a separate resolution dedicated to the protection of education in conflict zones.

One which:  

- Highlights the invaluable role access to education in achieving peace and security. 

- Calls upon UN Member States to protect schools and education facilities from attacks. 

- And urges all parties to fulfil their obligation to facilitate the continuation of education during conflict.  

The resolution also recognises the need for concrete measures to mitigate the negative impacts of the military use of schools. When schools are used for military purposes, they risk becoming targets of attack, thus jeopardising access to education. 

It places an important emphasis on the different ways attacks on education affect boys and girls. For boys there is a higher risk of recruitment by armed groups and for girls there is a higher risk of sexual and gender-based violence. Children with disabilities have their own set of vulnerabilities.

The work of the Security Council is just part of the broader global effort, across generations, and does not end with the adoption of Resolution 2601. Now we must ensure that the resolution is fully implemented.

We need to build on this momentum and do more. I urge all of us today to join in the effort to ensure the full implementation of this resolution: In close cooperation with Member States, UN agencies and civil society partners. 

So that, together, we can strengthen our resolve to promote education – in times of conflict, in time of stability, and as a basis for building peace. 

Thank you.