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Open Debate on "Children and Armed Conflict" - Joint Statement on Behalf of Endorsing States of the "Safe Schools Declaration" (July 9)

Joint Statement on Behalf of Endorsing States of the "Safe Schools Declaration"

Chargé d'Affaires a.i. of Argentina to the United Nations, Minister Alejandro Verdier

July 9


Thank you very much, Mr. President,

I have the honour to take the floor on behalf of the following States which have endorsed the Safe Schools Declaration: Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Jamaica, Kenya, Lebanon, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Norway, Paraguay, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, the State of Palestine, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Uruguay, Yemen, and my own country, Argentina.

We welcome the holding of the Open Debate on “Protecting children today to prevent conflicts tomorrow”, organized by Sweden, given the urgency of ending the vicious cycle of conflicts and protecting children from their effects.

The Safe Schools Declaration is an intergovernmental political commitment aimed at protecting and continuing education during armed conflict. This includes a pledge to implement the Guidelines for Protecting Schools and Universities from Military Use during Armed Conflict.

Education is not only a human right but an essential protection mechanism for children living in conflict, helping them to reach their potential and contribute to building stronger, more resilient and more peaceful communities. Continued access to safe education can help protect children and youth from the worst impacts of armed conflict and can also help to prevent the emergence of new ones. Additionally, protecting the education sector as much as possible from the effects of war can help the recovery of a country in the post conflict phase.

Since the First Conference on Safe Schools in Oslo in 2015, seventy-six States have endorsed the Safe Schools Declaration. We welcome Djibouti, Mali, the United Kingdom, Germany and Peru who have endorsed in recent months, joining the Safe Schools community.

At the Buenos Aires Conference on Safe Schools in March 2017, representatives from States, international organizations, and civil society had the opportunity to share experiences, raise awareness, and exchange expertise in an effort to find practical solutions to the real problems faced by students and teachers in conflict situations. Numerous States shared examples of implementation that demonstrated the tangible impact of the Declaration, and these were highlighted in the conference outcome report.

We welcome the announcement made by Spain that it will host the Third International Conference on Safe Schools in 2019, and look forward to seeing all Member States represented there.

We take note of the  latest report of the Secretary General on Children and Armed Conflict, and wish to convey our profound concern at the on-going grave violations against children in conflict, including threats, attacks, and military use of educational infrastructure, which leave children vulnerable.

We therefore echo the report´s recommendation for all States to endorse the Safe Schools Declaration, a call which has also been made by the Special Representative of the Secretary General for Children and Armed Conflict, Virginia Gamba, as well as the High Commissioner for Human Rights. We take this opportunity to express our special appreciation for the Secretary General’s support to the Safe Schools Declaration.

At the same time, we note the analysis of the report by Human Rights Watch which demonstrates that there has been a global drop in the military use of schools. The report shows that amongst the States that have endorsed the Declaration, military use of schools has dropped significantly, on average by almost 50% since 2015. We are encouraged that the Declaration makes such a difference on the ground and that endorsing States are implementing it. However, among States that have not endorsed the Declaration, the military uses of schools have actually increased.

To conclude, Mr. President, we reiterate our call to all Member States, and particularly to all members of this Council, to recognize the Declaration as a tool to protect children, and to join the Safe Schools Declaration community through endorsing and implementing the Declaration. 

I thank you.

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