(New York) – Armed forces and armed groups that attack schools and teachers should face consequences from the United Nations Security Council, the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack (GCPEA) said today.
The UN Secretary-General’s annual report on children and armed conflict, released on June 11, 2012, highlights grave violations against children in 22 countries. Armed forces and groups in four countries were added for the first time to the UN “list of shame” for attacking schools and hospitals.
“The new UN ‘list of shame’ is a wake-up call for armed forces and rebel groups that attack schools,” said Zama Coursen-Neff, the Global Coalition chairperson and children’s rights director at Human Rights Watch. “From now on, warring parties who target schools, students, and teachers should know that they will land on the Security Council’s radar and could face targeted sanctions.”
In July 2011, the Security Council asked the Secretary-General to report on 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.
The Security Council may subject parties who attack these institutions to sanctions, including arms embargoes, travel bans, and asset freezes against the officials responsible for violations. The Security Council may also refer them to the International Criminal Court for investigation and possible prosecution. To be removed from the list, the UN must verify that parties have ended the abuses, primarily through the implementation of time-bound action plans.
The Secretary-General’s report documents in-depth attacks on schools and related personnel. Parties listed for the first time for attacks on schools and hospitals are: in Afghanistan – Taliban forces, including the Tora Bora Front, the Jamat Sunat al-Dawa Salafia, and the Latif Mansur Network; in Democratic Republic of Congo – Forces Démocratiques de Liberation du Rwanda (FDLR); in Iraq – the insurgent groups Al-Qaida in Iraq (AQ-I) and Islamic State of Iraq (ISI); and in Syria – Syrian government forces, including the Syrian Armed Forces, the intelligence force, and the Shabbiha militia.
“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 and should now follow-up by imposing a price for continued violations.”
The Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack is a coalition of international organizations formed in 2010 to address the problem of targeted attacks on education during armed conflict.