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To mark Germany's signing of the Safe Schools Declaration, Bärbel Kofler, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid at the Federal Foreign Office, said today (22 May):
I am pleased that Germany has joined the Safe Schools Declaration. With the signing of the Safe Schools Declaration, Germany underlines that strict standards must be applied to the protection of schools and other educational institutions in armed conflicts. More protection for schools means more protection for children.
2018 is an important anniversary year for human rights. This year, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights turns 70 years old, the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders celebrates its 20th anniversary and the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child regarding the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict (OPAC) turns 18.
Unfortunately, we see that the intensity and duration of armed conflicts is increasing. At present, roughly one in every six children lives in close proximity to an armed conflict and is impacted by its consequences. The importance of education for long-term peace and prosperity cannot be overstated. If children are denied access to education because of armed conflict, this can be a lasting threat to entire generations – and the consequences of conflicts will continue to be felt for a long time to come. Therefore, Germany has had a longstanding commitment to the protection of children in armed conflicts, including during our last non-permanent membership of the UN Security Council in 2011/12.
Supporting the Safe Schools Declaration is thus only logical and underlines the commitment that we will continue in the future.
In May 2015, Norway organized a conference in Oslo where the so-called “Safe Schools Declaration” was passed, which endorsed the “Guidelines for Protecting Schools and Universities from Military Use during Armed Conflict” (Lucens Guidelines for short). With the signing of the Safe Schools Declaration, states emphasize their commitment to improving the protection of students, teachers, schools and universities from the worst effects of armed conflicts. Parties to conflict are called upon to refrain from using academic facilities for military purposes and to respect the civil status of such buildings if they are evacuated or closed for security reasons. 75 states, including Germany, have endorsed the Safe Schools Declaration.