United Nations Security Council calls for right to education in conflict zones, condemns attacks on children

Norway's UN Ambassador Mona Juul pointed out that there were reportedly 11,000 attacks that harmed more than 22,000 students and educators in at least 93 countries
Image for representational purpose only | Pic: United Nations
Image for representational purpose only | Pic: United Nations

The United Nations Security Council has strongly condemned attacks on schools, teachers and children in conflict areas across the globe and called on all parties to promote the right to education in conflicts. A resolution, adopted by the council on October 30 by a 15-0 vote, emphasised the "invaluable role" that education plays in providing "life-saving spaces" and its contribution to achieving peace and security. "For the first time, the Security Council has adopted a resolution uniquely dedicated to the protection of education," Norway's UN Ambassador Mona Juul, who sponsored the resolution with Niger, told the council after the vote.

She told the council, "Education is under attack around the world." Between 2014 and 2019, Juul said in at least 93 countries, there were reportedly 11,000 attacks that harmed more than 22,000 students and educators. The resolution urges the 193 UN member nations "to develop effective measures to prevent and address attacks and threats of attacks against school and education facilities." It condemns the military use of schools, which violates international law and may make the buildings "legitimate targets of attack, thus endangering children's and teachers' safety as well as their education."

The resolution urges all parties to armed conflicts to respect that schools are civilian facilities under international humanitarian law. And it calls on all countries "to take concrete measures to mitigate and avoid the use of schools by armed forces." The council expressed "deep concern that girls and women may be the intended victims of attacks targeting their access to and continuation of education," saying such attacks can include rape, sexual violence and sexual slavery.

Council members urged UN members "to take steps to address girls' equal enjoyment of their right to education." Juul said the 99 countries that co-sponsored the resolution are "an expression of a truly global commitment to this important cause." The Norwegian ambassador stressed that the adoption of the resolution must be followed by its full implementation. "We must do more to safeguard educational institutions from military use and attacks. We need to ensure the continuation of education during conflicts — including by investing in education in situations of crisis and conflict.

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