To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the effect of the Safe Schools Declaration on the number of child deaths in conflict.
8 December 2020
The Safe Schools Declaration (Declaration) has successfully shifted mind-sets globally on the impact of attacks and military occupation of educational infrastructure. The UK strongly supports the Declaration and other efforts aimed at promoting and protecting children's right to education and facilitating its continuation in conflict. Since the UK's endorsement of the Declaration, 32 additional states have endorsed, bringing the total number of supporting states to 106. Through our membership of the UNSC Children and Armed Conflict Working Group, the UK supports the work of the UN to end all violations against children, including pressing states to ensure that educational facilities and related personnel are protected, in line with the Declaration, and monitoring progress. Progress is incremental but positive change is visible. For example, the overall reported incidents of military use of schools and universities declined between 2015 and 2018 in the 12 countries that endorsed the Declaration in 2015. In July 2020, the Syrian Democratic Forces issued an order to all commanders to 'refrain from using schools for military purposes and placing equipment near them, and subsequently vacated ten schools. In August, Mali's Government reminded the armed forces of their commitments under the Declaration to avoid using any school currently vacant due to the COVID-19 pandemic for military purposes. This progress is welcome but we know more needs to be done to drive tangible change. The UK continues to call upon all UN Member States to endorse and fully implement the Declaration.