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UN Security Council: Protect Schools, Hospitals in War Zones

Armed Groups Should Comply with New Global Initiative

(New York) - Armed forces and non-state armed groups should immediately stop targeting schools, teachers and students for attack and comply with new United Nations Security Council measures to protect education in armed conflict, the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack (GCPEA) said today.

In its resolution on children and armed conflict, adopted July 12, 2011, the Security Council asked the UN Secretary-General to report to it about parties to armed conflict that attack schools and hospitals or threaten and attack their personnel. It also requested UN monitoring of the military use of schools and hospitals. Parties that attack these institutions will be required to negotiate with the UN to create time-bound action plans to stop these abuses.

"Schools should not be targets in war," said Zama Coursen-Neff, chair of the coalition and deputy director of the Children's Rights Division at Human Rights Watch. "The Security Council has taken an important step to prevent attacks and make schools safe for children."

Armed forces and non-state armed groups have attacked educational institutions, students and teachers and interrupted education in more than 30 countries in the last four years. The secretary-general's most recent report on children and armed conflict documents direct physical damage to schools, closure of schools as a result of threats and intimidation, military use of schools, and the use of schools as recruiting grounds in armed conflicts across the globe.  More than 28 million children not in school live in countries affected by armed conflict.

"Attacks on education cost students and teachers their lives, and lead to dramatic decreases in school attendance, leaving untold numbers of children without an education," Coursen-Neff said. "The Security Council has put militaries and armed groups on notice that these violations will not be tolerated."

The coalition recognized Germany's leadership in proposing and leading the negotiations on the Security Council resolution. The resolution was adopted during a Security Council session chaired by German minister of foreign affairs, Dr. Guido Westerwelle. Germany also chairs the Security Council's working group on children and armed conflict.

The Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack is a recently formed coalition of international organizations that includes the Council for Assisting Refugee Academics, Education Above All, Education International, Human Rights Watch, Institute of International Education, Save the Children, UNESCO, UNICEF, and UNHCR.

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