Meet on a regular basis, inviting relevant international organizations and civil society, to review implementation of the Declaration and use of the Guidelines.
The Safe Schools Declaration provides an opportunity for exchange and collaboration among States that share a common commitment to protecting education during armed conflict. The Oslo Conference on Safe Schools, in May 2015, which launched the Safe Schools Declaration, was a first step in a process that aims to engage more States on this issue, and to consolidate political support and cooperation around the protection of education during armed conflict.
In March 2017, the Ministries of Defense and Foreign Affairs of the Argentine Republic co-hosted the Second International Conference on Safe Schools in Buenos Aires, Argentina. This conference was a key global moment to refocus attention on the issue of attacks on education and offered an opportunity for endorsing States to highlight steps they had taken to raise awareness of the Safe Schools Declaration, and to implement the commitments contained in the Declaration.
In March 2019, the government of Spain hosted the Third International Safe Schools Conference. The conference offered a platform for States to share examples of good practice and identified ways to implement the Declaration and Guidelines.
On October 25-27, 2021 Nigeria hosted the Fourth International Conference on the Safe Schools Declaration in Abuja and virtually. The conference offered the opportunity for countries to share progress and good practice in implementing commitments within the Safe Schools Declaration, to inspire others to adopt similar measures, and galvanize support for safe education for all.
EXAMPLES OF GOOD PRACTICE
Argentina: In an opening statement made in its capacity as host of the Second International Conference on Safe Schools in March 2017, Ambassador Pedro Villagra Delgado, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs of Argentina, said “when schools are used for military purposes, at best, children and young people stop studying with all the negative consequences that entails. But, in the worst case scenario, when students are exposed to living with the armed forces, there is a risk of violence, forced recruitment, sexual abuse, and human trafficking, among other dangers that persist even after the armed forces or armed non-state actors have left the educational facilities […] Preventing schools from being used for military purposes and maintaining continuity of education can mitigate the psychosocial impact of wars and help children and young people to maintain a sense of normalcy in the midst of conflict, to find a place of refuge when their surroundings collapse, and, most importantly, to be prepared for the reconstruction of the future of their society after the conflict is over.” Argentina’s objectives in hosting the Conference were “drawing global attention to the seriousness of attacks against education in contexts of armed conflict, evaluating the progress made since the adoption of the Declaration, and sharing examples of good practice.”
Panama, Argentina, and Norway: Representatives from the Ministries of Defense, Foreign Affairs, Public Security, and national armed forces of 10 Latin American States met in Panama City on December 5-6, 2017, to discuss how to protect students, teachers, and schools from attack, and schools from military use, in wars around the world. Together with regional and international peacekeeping and education experts, State representatives exchanged practices and experience regarding the protection of schools and universities during armed conflict. Participants also discussed ways in which their governments can meet the commitments made in the Safe Schools Declaration and, in particular, implement explicit protections for schools from being used for military purposes into relevant domestic policies and operational frameworks.
Sierra Leone, Zambia, and Norway: In November 2016, Sierra Leone, Zambia, and Norway co-hosted a regional workshop focused on the implementation of the Guidelines by African Union States. Representatives from ministries of defense and education and the national armed forces of 14 of the 17 endorsing African States met to exchange good practices and experiences.
National Meetings and Workshops
Somalia: In November 2018, GCPEA conducted a training on operationalizing the Guidelines in Mogadishu. The training, facilitated by the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative, gathered members of the Somali armed forces, police, representatives of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), and relevant Ministries. Several tools, including case studies on protection of education from attack and military use, were prepared by the Dallaire Initiative in advance of the training.
Sudan: During a workshop in West Darfur convened by Save the Children in 2022, 29 different state and non-state actors, national and international organizations, and civil society groups signed a commitment to implement the Safe Schools Declaration and protect learning and education. Following the workshop, two schools were vacated by armed forces and armed groups using them, according to an international organization working in Sudan. In February 2023, according to the same international organization, a national action plan to protect education from attack in Sudan was developed by state and non-state actors and endorsed by the Federal Ministries of Education and Defense. The action plan includes the establishment of a technical committee to oversee implementation of the Declaration, the incorporation of the Guidelines into national legislation, military doctrine and the training of armed forces, and the enhancement of monitoring of attacks on education.