SC: Children and armed conflict

Statement by Ambassador Tore Hattrem in the Open Debate on Children and armed conflict, 31 October 2017.

| Security Council

I take the floor on behalf of a group of 38 Endorsing States of the Safe Schools Declaration, including Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Chile, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Finland, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Jordan, Luxembourg, Montenegro, Mozambique, New Zealand, The Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Uruguay, Yemen and Zambia.

The Safe Schools Declaration is an intergovernmental political commitment in support of the protection and continuation of education in armed conflicts. This includes a pledge to use the Guidelines for Protecting Schools and Universities from Military Use.

Since the First International Conference on Safe Schools in Oslo in May 2015, 70 States have joined the Declaration.

Education is a human right and a precondition for development. Continued access to safe education is essential and helps protect children from the impacts of armed conflict. It ensures that no generation is lost and greatly aids a country’s ability to recover from conflict.

Attacks on schools not only deprive girls and boys of learning opportunities, but can put them at risk of injury or death and increase the risk of recruitment, forced labour, sexual abuse, or child or forced marriage.

We take note of the Report of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict. We wish to convey our deep concern for the on-going grave violations against children in conflict.

We are particularly concerned about attacks and threats of attacks on schools, teachers, and students, which are occurring in too many countries. We welcome the Secretary-General’s recognition that endorsing and implementing the Safe Schools Declaration is a positive step towards improving protection of children.

Moreover, we support the observation, made by the Special Representative on Children and Armed Conflict in her annual report to the General Assembly, that the increasing support for the Declaration reflects a growing international consensus that preventing the military use of schools is essential to avoid disruption to education.

The Safe Schools Declaration provides a framework for action and cooperation, to increase the protection of education during armed conflict.

It includes commitments to improve reporting and data of attacks on education facilities; provide assistance to victims of attacks and to develop “conflict sensitive” approaches to education. States also commit to investigate allegations of violations of applicable law and prosecute perpetrators where appropriate.

At the Buenos Aires Conference on Safe Schools in March this year, representatives of more than 80 states discussed these important issues. Ministries of defence, education, foreign affairs, and members of armed forces shared their experience and expertise in a bid to find constructive solutions.

Representatives of endorsing states outlined concrete steps they have taken to implement the commitments in the Declaration.

We call on all States to endorse the Safe Schools Declaration and to benefit from the exchange of positive experiences of implementation.