The closure of schools makes children more vulnerable to early labour [fr]
CHILDREN AND ARMED CONFLICTS: ATTACKS AGAINST SCHOOLS AS A GRAVE VIOLATION OF CHILDREN’S RIGHTS
STATEMENT BY MRS NATHALIE BROADHURST, DEPUTY PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF FRANCE TO THE UNITED NATIONS
AT THE SECURITY COUNCIL
New York, 10 September 2020
I wish to begin by welcoming your commitment, Mr. President, to the protection of children and schools as a priority of your presidency. We are also pleased to see the adoption today of presidential statement S/PRST/2020/8 on this very important topic, facilitated by the Niger and Belgium.
I thank today’s briefers for their words and their actions. I also warmly congratulate, in particular, our young activists from the Niger for their testimony and their action on the ground. Through them, I pay tribute to the work of all the actors on the ground committed to child protection and education, especially in the extremely challenging context of the coronavirus
disease pandemic. I also commend UNESCO’s critical action on this issue, in conjunction with the other United Nations actors.
We have just commemorated the first International Day to Protect Education from Attack. This day and this debate remind us of a chilling reality, which many here have spoken about today. Attacks on schools persisted in 2019 and are continuing this year. The latest report of the Secretary-General (S/2020/525) has identified nearly 1,000 attacks on schools and hospitals, in full violation of international law. In the Sahel region, several thousand children have dropped out of school. The right to education for girls and adolescent girls, in particular, is under threat. Naturally, the coronavirus disease pandemic amplifies those difficulties.The closure of schools makes children, especially girls, more vulnerable to early labour and early and forced marriage.
In that context, the Security Council must remain mobilized, through its Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict and through its actions as a whole. In that regard, I reiterate the crucial implementation of resolution 2532 (2020), endorsing the Secretary General’s call for a global ceasefire. I also commend the efforts of the Secretary-General, his Special Envoys and, of course, Special Representative Virginia Gamba de Potgieter — whose work I welcome — to ensure that the issue of child protection continues to be raised directly with parties to conflicts.
For its part, France will continue to play an active role. We will continue to call for the universal endorsement of the Paris Commitments, which make schooling a priority in the fight against the recruitment and exploitation of children. We also call for the endorsement of the Safe Schools Declaration, whose fifth anniversary we commemorate. In that regard, I commend the remarkable and critical work of the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack. These documents are important and complementary commitments to the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and all its protocols.
France has also made education a priority of its external action. It has significantly increased its bilateral aid in this area and actively supports UNESCO, in particular in strengthening the resilience of young people in the face of violent extremism in the Sahel. In addition, in 2018, France recommitted to the Global Partnership for Education with a contribution of €200 million for the 2018-2020 cycle. It will actively participate in the campaign to mobilize resources for the partnership’s replenishment conference scheduled for the summer of 2021. Since girls in particular are victims of violence and inequality, France is also supporting the implementation of protective environments for girls in schools through the Priority for Equality initiative, which operates in the Sahel countries. These issues remain at the heart of our commitment in the Sahel.