Attacks on education are any intentional threat or use of force—carried out for political, military, ideological, sectarian, ethnic, religious, or criminal reasons—against students, educators, and education institutions.
Strengthening Monitoring and Reporting of Attacks on Education
Timely and accurate monitoring and reporting of attacks on education is crucial for responding to attacks, for holding perpetrators accountable, and for seeking to prevent attacks from occurring in the first place. Yet reliable, first-hand information may be difficult to collect as areas most vulnerable to attacks may be the least accessible because of poor security and infrastructure.
Those with the greatest access to information or responsibility to monitor may lack skills, resources, or motivation to monitor, or may face serious security threats to their own safety or that of witnesses. Reporting systems may be weak or non-existent or not linked to effective responses. Monitoring and reporting of attacks on higher education is particularly lacking.
Governments, and relevant UN bodies, NGOs, and others should monitor, report, and respond to attacks on education. The UN-led Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism on Children and Armed Conflict (MRM) (established by Security Council Resolution 1612 in 2005) has an explicit mandate to monitor attacks on schools, teachers, and students, as well as military use of schools. Based on this information, the UN Security Council can take strong action against parties that attack education.
Education under attack 2014
GCPEA has taken over responsibility from UNESCO for producing the Education under Attack series. Education under Attack 2007 was the first major document specifically addressing worldwide attacks on students, teachers, and educational institutions during armed conflict and insecurity. The more extensive 2010 volume brought this issue to the fore, highlighting the severity of the problem. It served as a crucial advocacy tool in the lead up to Security Council Resolution 1998 (2011), which made attacks on schools and hospitals a trigger offense to the monitoring and reporting mechanism on children and armed conflict. With Education under Attack 2014, GCPEA expands this advocacy function by feeding into the post-2015 agenda setting on education and development frameworks.
GCPEA engages in advocacy with members of the UN Security Council, other states, and international treaty bodies to promote the strengthening of existing monitoring and reporting systems as well as the creation of new systems where needed. Following its work with other organizations in advocating for Security Council Resolution 1998 in 2011, the Coalition has continued to urge member states to highlight the problem of attacks on education and military use of schools during Security Council debates. During the 2013 annual debate on children and armed conflict, sixteen states referred to the issue in their statement at the debate, including Canada, which spoke on behalf of the Friends of Children and Armed Conflict, which represents some 38 states. The Coalition is also advocating for treaty bodies to raise the issue of attacks on education and military use of education institutions in their questions to states as part of their standard practice, and to incorporate comments on these issues in their concluding observations when relevant. The Coalition is thus submitting reports to treaty bodies when they examine states where attacks on education or military use are taking place. The submissions identify attacks and military use that is occurring, and suggest questions to put to the state.
The Coalition urges:
- States, local organizations, and relevant international agencies to rigorously monitor attacks against education and use that information to devise effective, coordinated responses, including preventive interventions, rapid response, and both legal and non-legal accountability measures for perpetrators.
- Country task forces of the UN-led Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism (MRM) on grave violations against children in situations of armed conflict to enhance the monitoring and reporting of attacks on schools, students, teachers and other persons related to the school (protected persons); threats of attacks against protected persons; and actions by parties to the conflict which impede children's access to education, including the military use of schools, as requested by the Security Council in Resolution 1998 of July 2011.
- UN human rights monitoring mechanisms, including the Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights; the Human Rights Committee; the Committee on the Rights of the Child, and the Human Rights Council and its special procedures, including the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education, to give greater attention to monitoring and reporting on attacks on education.
- Submission to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women Discussion on Girls’/Women’s Right to Education (Article 10) July 7, 2014
- Attacks on Education Should Lead Security Council Debate March 7, 2014
- Submission on the Third and Fourth Periodic Report of India to the Committee on the Rights of the Child August 15, 2013
- Submission on the combined initial and second periodic report of Afghanistan to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women June 28, 2013
- GCPEA Priorities for the Protection of Schools, Teachers, and Students in the 2013 Security Council Debate on Children and Armed Conflict June 2, 2013
- UN: ‘List of Shame’ Cites School Attacks: Security Council Should Impose Sanctions for Targeting Children, Teachers June 12, 2012
- UN Security Council: Protect Schools, Hospitals in War Zones Armed Groups Should Comply with New Global Initiative July 13, 2011
- GCPEA Briefing Note June 24, 2011: Expanding the Monitoring & Reporting Mechanism (MRM) June 24, 2011
Attacks on education violate the right to education and other internationally protected human rights applicable at all times.