All tagged Children's Rights

Multiple imperatives to protect schools as safe spaces of learning

Courtesy of the Oxford Human Rights Hub (February 2, 2017).

As of January 10 2017, 57 states have endorsed the Safe Schools Declaration, setting out the importance of protecting schools during armed conflict. This post summarises a mini seriesprobing the international legal protection of education, and the Declaration, in the context of non/international armed conflict. Each of the four postings (published here and here) begins by recallingthe violated spaces of learning of the recent past.  Again and again, such attacks have caused senior representatives of the United Nations to state: ‘even wars have rules’.  Of course, there is credence to the view that those rules, in the words of Antonio Cassese, ‘hold Armageddon only partially at bay’.  Certainly today — from San’a to Aleppo and beyond — they remain apparently  ‘all too often checkmated by sheer power’.  And, this necessarily places pressure on foundational humanitarian rules.

Eight reasons why the Safe Schools Declaration matters

Courtesy of The Right to Education Project (November 27, 2016), summarising a mini series of four postings on the international legal protection of education.

The testimonies of these two teachers, one Yemeni, one Syrian, evoke the egregious hurt and harm of attacks on schools. These attacks, among others, illume the imperative of conducing compliance with foundational rules of international humanitarian law, in particular, as recalled recently by the Security Council in relation tothe Syrian attack above, the obligation to distinguish between civilian objects and military objectives, and the prohibition on indiscriminate attacks. Undergirding this is an another imperative of respecting the civilian character of schools.  The two are deeply interconnected. The international legal protection accorded schools from attack is necessarily contingent on their civilian character. It is of these dual imperatives that the Safe Schools Declaration was born. Led by the Governments of Norway and Argentina, 56 states have thus far signed the Declaration and committed to implementing the associated Guidelines.  And this matters.

Knowledge and practice of rights 'in' and 'through' the inviolable spaces of learning

Third of a series of four postings, courtesy of IntLawGrrls (May 5, 2016).

‘I felt that humanity has ended. I mean, a place of learning, to be hit in this way, without warning… where is humanity? …It is supposed to be illegal in any war to strike such places…’  Director of al-Shaymeh School, Hodeidah, Yemen (as cited in ‘Our kids are bombed’ Schools under attack in Yemen (Amnesty International, 11th December 2015), 17).

 

Held there is a widely held supposition: the multifarious spaces of lower and higher learningare supposedly inviolable from acts of violence. Such spaces are, after all, holders of embodied rights-bearers, principally learners, and their multidimensional right to education. Thus viewed inviolability is three-dimensional: spatial, bodily and inner. So too is the right as expressed in international law: the human rights treaty and Charter bodies (and eminent scholars) have illuminated the right as multi-dimensional, encompassing multiple composite rights ‘to’, ‘in’ and ‘through’ education. And it is of continuing applicability at the shift from ordinary to extraordinary ‘embodied vulnerability’ to hurt and harm. The right has been invoked by those same bodies within the converging contexts of emergencies, threats to international and peace and security and non/international armed conflicts. Too often attacks on spaces of learning (and the embodied rights-holders within) form part of this vulnerability shift.

Converging law, four points of vulnerability and the supposed inviolability of spaces of learning

First of a series of four postings, courtesy of Centre for Criminal Justice and Human Rights Blog, University College Cork, Ireland (January 29, 2016).

Chibok. Rafah. Peshawar. Garassa. Donetsk. Aleppo. Sana’a.

Disparate places, among others, bound by attacks—acts of violence—on the supposed inviolable spaces of lower and higher learning, schools and universities, among others. The attacks and their impact—the hurt and harm—on children and adults’ embodied selves resonate far beyond their geographical axis. Or, to invoke the Martens Clause, they may be supposed as violating ‘[…] the laws of humanity and the dictates of public conscience.’ And, in doing so, they undergird the continuing juristic shift of the past century towards the international legal protection of our ‘embodied vulnerability’ to hurt and harm of all forms.* Like other serious violations of international law, then, the attacks transcend the—sometime—distance between us.  But is the clarity of our collective sense of justice reflected in the law?