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Protecting Education from Attack and the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda

Intervention by the Permanent Representative of the Argentine Republic, Amb. Martín García Moritán

July  12

Good morning colleagues and friends,

Thank you for inviting Argentina to participate at this very important breakfast. As we know education is one of the main discussions during this HLPF, nonetheless the matter of this breakfast is highly important given that we not only highlight the importance of education in itself but also about the necessity of protecting education from attack.

If ensuring the access to education is fundamental in any situation, it is even more relevant to do so during armed conflict, situations of violence and insecurity. The prohibition of attacks against education facilities is not only a basic sense of humanity but forbidden under International Humanitarian Law. Education is a human right as well as 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.

This is the reason why in 2015 together with Norway we led consultations in Geneva which resulted in the Safe Schools Declaration that is an intergovernmental political commitment aimed at protecting and continuing education during armed conflict. This includes a pledge to use the Guidelines for Protecting Schools and Universities from Military Use. The Guidelines are non-binding and do not create new international legal obligations. Instead they aim to instill a voluntary shift in behavior, drawing on existing practice, in order to better safeguard the civilian character of educational facilities and better protect them from attack.

In the concrete commitments outlined in the Declaration it is included the importance of data collection and response to attacks as well as accountability for the attacks.

91 countries have already endorsed the Declaration. This is a huge step given that the endorsement of the Declaration generates concrete results that have been reported for example by Human Rights Watch: 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.

We must never forget the fundamental role of schools and education in promoting understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations. This is why I would like to conclude my remarks by inviting all member states to endorse this important and practical document.

Thank you very much.


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