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Human Rights Watch: Protecting Schools from Military Use

© Provided by The Rahnuma Daily

Doha, March 20 (QNA) – Human Rights Watch (HRW) issued a report stating that schools and universities have been taken over either partially or entirely to be converted into military bases and barracks; used as detention and interrogation facilities; for training fighters; and to store or hide weapons and ammunition.

The report titled as “Protecting Schools from Military Use: Law, Policy, and Military Doctrine”, collects recent and historic examples of laws, court decisions, military orders, policies, and practice by governments, armed forces, non-state armed groups, and courts aimed at protecting schools and universities from use for military purposes.

HRW has investigated the military use of schools in Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic, India, Iraq, Pakistan, Palestine, the Philippines, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria, Thailand, Ukraine and Yemen.The research has documented how the use of schools for military purposes endangers students’ and teachers’ safety, and can interfere with students’ right to education. 
In 2009, the issue of the military use of schools began to garner international attention. Early that year, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, the international body of experts that oversees implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, recommended that parties to the treaty “fulfill their obligation therein to ensure schools as zones of peace and places where intellectual curiosity and respect for universal human rights is fostered; and to ensure that schools are protected from military attacks or seizure by militants; or used as centers for recruitment.”
In 2014, the government of Norway took over the global consultation on these guidelines, and in December 2014 oversaw the release of the finalized Guidelines for Protecting Schools from Military Use during Armed Conflict.
In early 2015, the governments of Norway and Argentina led a consultative process that led to the Safe Schools Declaration, a political commitment by countries to do more to protect students, teachers, schools, and universities during armed conflict, including through use of the Guidelines to refrain from using schools and universities for military purposes. As of March 14th, 2017, 59 countries had endorsed the declaration.
  At least three countries (Burma, Nepal, and Sudan) have included commitments to refrain from all military use of schools as part of peace agreements between the government and domestic armed non-state actors. The HRW issued recommendations to countries stating “Endorse the Safe Schools Declaration, and thereby endorse and commit to use and bring into their domestic policy and operational frameworks the Guidelines on Protecting Schools from Military Use during Armed Conflict. 
Take concrete measures to deter the use of schools by armed forces and non-state armed groups, including through the explicit regulation of military use of schools, using the Guidelines on Protecting Schools from Military Use during Armed Conflict as a minimum standard.” The report listed a number of organizations including the League of Arab States, where the Arab Charter on Human Rights, 2004 states “The eradication of illiteracy is a binding obligation upon the State and everyone has the right to education” The Safe Schools Declaration, signed in Oslo 2015 reads, “Where educational facilities are used for military purposes it can increase the risk of the recruitment and use of children by armed actors or may leave children and youth vulnerable to sexual abuse or exploitation.” It also reads, “Educational facilities have been used by parties to armed conflict as, inter alia, bases, barracks or detention centers. Such actions expose students and education personnel to harm, deny large numbers of children and students their right to education and so deprive communities of the foundations on which to build their future.” A second Safe Schools conference will be hosted by the government of Argentina on March 28th-29th, 2017, with a number of government representatives from around the world will attend to discuss the global problem of attacking students, teachers and schools being used for military purposes. (QNA) 

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