In 2011, by adopting resolution 1998, the Security Council gave the United Nations a mandate to identify and list, in the annexes of the Secretary-General’s annual report on Children and Armed Conflict, the armed forces and groups who attack schools or hospitals, or protected persons in relation to schools and hospitals. The resolution asked listed parties to conflict to work with the United Nations to prepare concrete, time-bound action plans to end and prevent the violations. This is crucial to ensure children can enjoy their rights to education and health and that violators no longer enjoy impunity.
With our partners, we are strengthening our capacity to monitor and report incidents affecting children’s right to health and education in situations of conflict. We are also enhancing our advocacy and dialogue with perpetrators to put a stop to these violations.
On May 22 2014, the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Leila Zerrougui, launched a Guidance Note on Attacks against schools and hospitals to help ensure that everyone involved in monitoring, reporting and advocacy is equipped with the best tools to end and prevent attacks against schools and hospitals.
The guidance note also addresses the issue of the military use of schools and the Special
Representative has undertaken significant advocacy efforts on preserving the civilian status of these institutions, including in light of the adoption of the Safe Schools Declaration in May 2015. As of January 2017, the declaration has been endorsed by 57 States, including 9 countries on the children and armed conflict agenda (Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Lebanon, Nigeria, State of
Palestine, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan).
Ensuring access to education and healthcare, in contexts of armed conflict and in situations where children are displaced, has also been a priority for the children and armed conflict mandate. Funding for education and healthcare in emergencies is vital to maintain even a minimal level of services for conflict-affected children and has been a key focus in recent advocacy initiatives.
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The world has denounced the recruitment of child soldiers; the world has decried sexual violence in conflict. We now have to condemn and take action against attacks on schools and hospitals with the same strength and conviction.