GCPEA Statement on UNSC CAAC Debate 2021 | June 28, 2021 |
GCPEA Statement on the UN Security Council Open Debate on Children and Armed Conflict

Strengthen protections for education in armed conflict as UN Secretary General reports an increase in attacks on schools in 2020
(New York, June 28, 2021) – Countries should redouble their efforts to protect schools, teachers, and students from attack, the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack (GCPEA) said today. The UN Secretary General’s annual report on children and armed conflict, released in advance of today’s UN Security Council open debate on children and armed conflict, documents an increase in attacks on schools in 2020, with a total of 856 attacks on schools and hospitals.
Despite schools being closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic in much of the world for long periods in 2020, attacks on schools have risen, putting the lives of children further at risk in some of the most dangerous places across the globe,” said Diya Nijhowne, GCPEA Executive Director. “Endorsing and then implementing the Safe Schools Declaration are critical actions countries can take to better protect students and educators during armed conflict.”
The Safe Schools Declaration is an inter-governmental political commitment led by Norway and Argentina and endorsed by 109 states, mostly recently Timor-Leste, which joined in May. By endorsing the Declaration, countries commit to protecting education from attack, including by using the Guidelines for Protecting Schools and Universities from Military Use during Armed Conflict and incorporating them into their military doctrine and operations.

The UN Secretary General encourages all countries to endorse the Safe Schools Declaration in his report.

On October 25-27, Nigeria, in collaboration with Argentina, Norway, Spain, and GCPEA will host the Fourth International Conference on the Safe Schools Declaration in Abuja and virtually. The conference offers the opportunity for countries to share progress and good practice in implementing commitments within the Safe Schools Declaration, to inspire others to adopt similar measures, and galvanize support for safe education for all.
“At the UN Security Council open debate on children and armed conflict today, countries should commit to endorsing and strengthening implementation of the Safe Schools Declaration, as well as vacating schools occupied by the military, and restoring them to suitable conditions for learning, said Nijhowne.”

GCPEA also called on countries to ensure that alternative education measures designed for students out of school due to Covid-19 are permanently extended to children unable to attend school due to armed conflict.

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The Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack (GCPEA), was formed in 2010 by organizations working in the fields of education in emergencies and conflict affected contexts, higher education, protection, and international human right and humanitarian law that were concerned about ongoing attack on educational institutions, their students, and staff in countries affected by conflict and insecurity. GCPEA is a coalition that includes United Nations agencies and non-governmental organizations. GPCEA is a project of the Tides Center, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization.
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GCPEA is grateful for the generous support of its donors, past and present, including Columbia University’s Program on Forced Migration and Health, Education Cannot Wait, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, NoVo Foundation, Open Society Foundations, Protect Education in Insecurity and Conflict (PEIC), a project of Education Above All, and UNICEF. GCPEA also receives support from donors who wish to remain anonymous.

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