Press Statement on the Protection of Education in Conflict

Press Statement by Niger and Norway following the adoption of the UN Security Council resolution on the protection of education in conflict (SCR 2601), 29 November 2021.

On behalf of Norway and Niger, it is my pleasure to announce that the Security Council has just unanimously adopted a resolution uniquely dedicated to the protection of education in conflict.

The high number of co-sponsors also strengthens this call. We are grateful for 99 Member States already confirming their support.

This is an expression of a truly global commitment to this important cause.

Education is under attack around the world. This is particularly the case in situations of armed conflict. In many places, children are terrified of going to school. Students and teachers are killed, raped and abducted. Schools and education facilities are occupied, bombed and destroyed, depriving children of an opportunity to learn, in a safe space.

The scale of the issue is enormous: More than 11,000 attacks, harming more than 22,000 students and educators in at least 93 countries – were reported between 2014 and 2019.

This comprehensive resolution is a strong contribution to addressing disruption of education as one of the longest lasting consequences of conflict. This resolution also furthers the mandate for the protection of children affected by armed conflict.

- It highlights the invaluable role education plays for peace and security, and calls upon Member States to protect schools and education facilities from attacks.

- It recognises the need for concrete measures to mitigate the negative consequences caused by the military use of schools.

- It focuses on prevention as a key measure in facilitating the continuation of education.

- It places an important emphasis on the vulnerability of girls, as well as children in vulnerable situations- such as refugees, children with disabilities, and internally displaced persons.

- And it calls on the international community to approach education in armed conflict in a holistic manner such that the next pandemic or emergency situations do not create massive disruption in learning.

A few days ago, the Security Council visited the Sahel. And from this experience I’m convinced that this resolution couldn't be more timely: 4,000 schools in the Sahel countries are closed.

More than 13 million children are deprived of a basic human right: the right to education. Which exists and should be upheld even in times of crisis.

Covid-19 has made a challenging situation even worse. The pandemic has: heightened risks, increased protection needs, and threatens to undo gains previously made in ensuring access to education and the protection of children in armed conflict.

Girls have been disproportionately impacted, and are less likely to return to school once their education has been interrupted. Boys and girls who are out of schools in situations of armed conflict are also vulnerable to recruitment and use.

For sure, our work doesn't end today with the adoption of this resolution. Going forward, it is the responsibility of UN Member States to ensure that all children, can safely realise their right to education.

The global community cannot afford for future generations to be uneducated or traumatised.

Last, but not least: we sincerely thank our Education partners. We reiterate the role and responsibility of governments in providing protection and relief to all children and also facilitate the continuation of education. We thank UN Agencies, civil society and NGOs who have supported the work of this resolution - and who every day makes a difference by providing education opportunities for children in armed conflict.