NEW YORK, September 20, 2012 /PRNewswire/ --
Legal protection for education in conflict zones must be stepped up
Victims of the devastating impact of violations of the right to education in times of conflict must be given a stronger voice as they seek justice and the chance to rebuild their lives, a leading authority on the legal protection of education in combat zones said on Thursday.
In a groundbreaking new toolkit for prosecutors, judges and lawyers, Education Above All (EAA) highlights the plight of a forgotten generation of children growing up in conflict zones and shows how international law can and must be used to respond. Some 61 million children of primary school age are thought to be without formal education around the world, of whom 28 million are in conflict zones.
Sheikha Moza bint Nasser of Qatar, who chairs EAA, said:
"Depriving children of the right to education is not only a human tragedy, it is an obstacle to recovery and building a better future. As countries recover from conflict, education is a vital building block for improvements in health, peace-building and economic growth. The indifference we have seen to this issue is almost as bad as the problem itself."
Available data makes chilling reading. The UN Security Council reported that in 2011 a total of 477 schools in Cote D'Ivoire were damaged, looted and/or used by armed groups, depriving an estimated 67,500 children of education and that in Syria, children had been detained, tortured and killed in schools. The Norwegian Students' and Teachers' International Assistance Fund reported that in the same year, 50 percent of teachers polled in Zimbabwe had been victims of violence, with four out of five teachers polled having been threatened.
In fact, during insecurity and armed conflicts around the world, it has become increasingly commonplace for schools and colleges to be destroyed, teachers killed, scholars threatened, and students recruited as child soldiers. Every region is affected, rendering those deprived of education illiterate, unskilled and more prone to violence.
Protecting Education in Insecurity and Armed Conflict: An International Law Handbook aims to draw attention to this neglected issue and deter those who may now believe such grievous attacks can be carried out with impunity.
"Not only do these attacks destroy our children's chances of obtaining a good education, they seriously inhibit the chances of recovery of the societies that they live in. In fact, we know that children deprived of the right to education are far more likely to become involved in violence themselves. This is an area where transgressors need to understand that there will be clear and heavy penalties for these horrendous crimes," Sheikha Moza said.
Education Above All, an independent policy research and advocacy organization, is calling for better coordination of international human rights law, international criminal law and international humanitarian law.
Commissioned by EAA, authored by the British Institute of International and Comparative Law (BIICL) and described by former International Court of Justice President Dame Rosalyn Higgins DBE, QC as "unusual and important ... [offering] depth and conceptual clarity", the Handbook explains and examines the intersection of international human rights, humanitarian, and criminal law with respect to violations of the right to education and other relevant rights during insecurity and armed conflict.
Students, teachers, and schools and colleges are afforded protection under these international laws. Even so, much more must be done to ensure the law is implemented and enforced, EAA says. The Handbook offers recommendations as to how this legal protection of education in insecurity and armed conflict can, and should, be strengthened.
The Handbook aims not only to spark a process of focusing on the legal protection of education in insecurity and conflict, but to draw international attention to the difficulty in seeking available and effective remedies, including reparation, for education-related violations of international law. Not only should victims have adequate access to remedies, these mechanisms should recognise when violations of international law relate to education, and deal with them accordingly.
Notes to Editors:
Protecting Education in Insecurity and Armed Conflict: An International Law Handbook is published by Education Above All, and authored by Kristin Hausler, Nicole Urban and Robert McCorquodale of the British Institute of International and Comparative Law.
An electronic version of the Handbook is available at both:
Education Above All is an independent non-governmental organization chaired by Her Highness SheikhaMozabint Nasser of Qatar, UNESCO Special Envoy for Basic and Higher Education. A policy research and advocacy organization, EAA is concerned with the protection of education during insecurity and armed conflict. EAA's Legal Program contributes to such protection through the strategic utilization of international and regional law. Its objective legal research papers are authored by international legal academics and/or practising lawyers. They are aimed at a varied audience, including international and national lawyers, non-legally trained education experts and policy-makers within governments, political, social and cultural bodies, and civil society.
The British Institute of International and Comparative Law, which authored the Handbook, is one of the leading independent research centres for international and comparative law in the world. Since its foundation over 50 years ago, the Institute has brought together a diverse community of researchers, practitioners and policymakers from around the world who are committed to the understanding, development and practical application of international and comparative law. Its high quality research projects and events encompass almost all areas of international law (both public and private) and comparative law and it is at the forefront of discussions on many contemporary issues.
1. UNESCO: Global Monitoring Report 2011
SOURCE Education Above All