Following Germany’s signing of the Safe Schools Declaration, the Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy, Bärbel Kofler, issued the following statement today (22 May):
I am delighted that Germany has endorsed the Safe Schools Declaration. By doing so, Germany is underscoring that particularly strict yardsticks are to be put in place during armed conflict to protect schools and other educational establishments. More protection for schools means more protection for children.
The year 2018 is an important year for human rights. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the 20th anniversary of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, while the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict reaches adulthood, so to speak, with its 18th anniversary.
Unfortunately we have to admit that the intensity and duration of armed conflicts are increasing. It is estimated that one in six children currently lives in the direct vicinity of an armed conflict and is affected by it. The importance of education when it comes to securing peace and prosperity in the long term cannot be overestimated. If children are excluded from education due to armed conflict, this can leave long-term damage on entire generations. This means the repercussions of such conflict endure for many years. This is why Germany has long been working to protect children in armed conflict, also for example during our last term in the UN Security Council 2011/12.
Support of the Safe Schools Declaration follows on from this and underscores the commitment which we will continue in the future.
In May 2015, Norway hosted a conference in Oslo during which the Safe Schools Declaration (SSD) was adopted endorsing the Guidelines for Protecting Schools and Universities from Military Use during Armed Conflict (known as the Lucens Guidelines). By signing the Safe Schools Declaration, states are highlighting their commitment to better protect pupils, teachers, schools and universities from the worst consequences of armed conflict. Conflicting parties are, for example, called upon not to use school and university premises for military purposes and to continue to respect the civil status of the buildings even after their forced closure or evacuation due to security reasons. Germany was the 75th state to endorse the Safe Schools Declaration.