On the 28th of May 15h00-16h30 (CET) the Permanent Missions to the UN in Geneva of Argentina, Nigeria, Norway and Spain, in collaboration with the Permanent Mission of Italy, the Geneva Safe Schools Core Group, the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack and Save the Children, are hosting a virtual celebration of the Declaration’s 6th anniversary, including an information session on the 4th international conference.
Education is the foundation for development. It is also a strong tool for the protection of children in armed conflict. Yet, education is also a frequent victim of armed conflict. When schools are used for military purposes, they become targets. Avoiding military use of schools and protecting education from attack is essential to safeguard the present and future of children in armed conflict.
Civil society had engaged on the protection of education over time through the Global Coalition to protect Education from Attack, in particular on the problem of military use of schools. In 2014 they approached Norway to gather support for the issue among states. Norway and Argentina decided to initiate a process to negotiate a political declaration on the protection of education. The core group, which at the time included Argentina, Austria, Côte d’Ivoire, Jordan, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Spain and the Philippines – wanted an ambitious declaration. The negotiations among members states went relatively quickly – in less than six months – but were by no means easy.
On 29 May 2015, a strong political declaration to avoid military use of schools and protect education from attack was adopted and endorsed by 37 states at the Oslo Conference on Safe Schools.
The Safe Schools Declaration has since gathered significant momentum. As the Declaration passes the six-year mark this week, 108 states have submitted their endorsements – from all regions of the world.
As the endorsements increase, focus is gradually shifting to ensuring that the commitments are implemented in practice. Attacks on education are still prolific. The 2020-edition of the Education under Attack report notes that between 2015 and 2019 more than 11.000 attacks affecting over 22.000 students and teachers in 93 countries were reported. COVID has only compounded the problem.
Going from commitment to practice is the main theme of the 4th International Safe Schools Conference, which will take place in a hybrid format from 25 to 27 October in Abuja, Nigeria. In the run-up to the conference, Norway and partners are working on establishing a network of experts for state-to-state cooperation and assistance on implementing the declaration. The network will be officially launched at the conference. 2021 has also seen the establishment of a Spanish biennial training and assistance programme for implementation of the declaration.
Please join us by registering using the following link: https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJMsfumsrjktHtY7bWkDyz5NvZ1JwLmGfMz5