On 21 February 2017, UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova commended the French and Canadian governments for endorsing the Safe Schools Declaration, an international political commitment to protect students, teachers, schools and universities from attack in times of armed conflict. This brings the number of signatories to 59 countries. France is the first permanent member of the UN Security Council to sign the Declaration.
In the face of a tragic escalation in attacks against education, every measure must be taken to keep schools safe for children to continue learning, even in the most adverse circumstances. This is their lifeline for the future,” said the Director-General. “By endorsing the Declaration today in Paris, France and Canada are sending a strong message on the urgency to act together to protect schools from attack and military use, to defend children’s access to education, and to respect applicable international law. This is absolutely key for building peace and security.”
The Declaration was developed through consultations with States in a process led by Norway and Argentina in Geneva in early 2015 and was opened for endorsement at the Oslo Conference on Safe Schools on May 29, 2015. During the 38th session of UNESCO’s General Conference in November 2015, the Director-General and His Royal Highness Crown Prince Haakon of Norway participated in an event to raise awareness about the Declaration. In 2014, together with Ms Leila Zerrougui, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative to Protect Children in Armed Conflict, Ms Bokova launched the Guidance Note on Attacks against schools and hospitals, to build on UN Security Council Resolution 1998 (2011). UNESCO is a member of the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack.
Argentina is hosting the Second International Conference on Safe Schools in Buenos Aires on 28 and 29 March 2017.