Armenia 60th Country to Endorse Safe Schools Declaration

Schoolchildren in classroom in Armenia (Photo: World Food Programme/Abeer Etefa)
Schoolchildren in classroom in Armenia (Photo: World Food Programme/Abeer Etefa)

Schoolchildren in classroom in Armenia (Photo: World Food Programme/Abeer Etefa)

NEW YORK—Armenia became the 60th country to endorse the international Safe Schools Declaration on March 22, the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack (GCPEA) announced on Thursday.

“We warmly congratulate Armenia for making this commitment to ensure that students and schools are better protected around the world, even during times of conflict,” said Diya Nijhowne, GCPEA director. “Armenia joins a growing community of states that recognize that more can be done, and that more must be done, so that students can study safely in their schools.”

Armenia’s endorsement means that the majority of Council of Europe member states have now endorsed the Safe Schools Declaration.

The Safe Schools Declaration is an inter-governmental political commitment that provides countries with the opportunity to express support for protecting students, teachers, schools, and universities from attack during times of armed conflict. It stresses the importance of continuing education during armed conflict.

By joining the declaration, countries pledge to restore access to education when schools are bombed, burned, and destroyed during armed conflict, and undertake to make it less likely that students, teachers, and schools will be attacked in the first place. They agree to deter such violence by promising to investigate and prosecute war crimes involving schools, and to minimize the use of schools for military purposes so they do not become targets for attack.

This latest endorsement occurs just six days before the Second International Safe Schools Conference, to be co-hosted by the Argentine ministries of foreign affairs and defense in Buenos Aires on March 28-29.

GCPEA is an inter-agency coalition formed in 2010 by organizations working in the fields of education in emergencies and conflict-affected contexts, higher education, protection, and international human rights and humanitarian law that were concerned about ongoing attacks on educational institutions, their students, and staff in countries affected by conflict and insecurity.

GCPEA is a coalition of organizations that includes: The Council for At-Risk Academics (CARA), Human Rights Watch, the Institute of International Education, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Protect Education in Insecurity and Conflict (PEIC, a program of Education Above All), Save the Children, the Scholars at Risk Network, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

For more information on GCPEA please visit: protectingeducation.org

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on children’s rights, please visit: hrw.org/topic/childrens-rights

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