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Promoting and protecting education in situations of armed conflict

14-03-2014 Event

The ICRC, the Geneva Academy and Protecting Education in Insecurity and Conflict (PEIC) hosted a joint conference on the theme of “Promoting and protecting education in situations of armed conflict”, to explore the complex impact that armed conflict often has on access to education, as well as how the latter is protected under international law

Event Info

Where: ICRC Humanitarium, 19 Avenue de la Paix, Geneva

When: 14.03.2014

Introduction by Vincent Bernard, Editor-in-Chief, International Review of the Red Cross 

Watch the whole conference

Educational facilities are often affected in armed conflicts and other situations of violence. The sometimes excessive use of force by state armed forces or by organized non-state armed groups, combined with the fact that hostilities often take place in urban areas, make educational facilities, students and educators frequent casualties. Moreover, evidence suggests that education is not only inadvertently affected by armed conflicts, but access to education is also intentionally impaired by parties to armed conflicts. The effect is felt through the loss of teachers and intellectuals; the flight of students and staff; the destruction of buildings; the shelving of investment; and the generalized degradation of education systems. Children are also directly affected: whether they are unaccompanied, separated from relatives or other carers, or whether they have been recruited into armed forces or armed groups, or are in detention, their access to schools or other educational facilities are likely to be obstructed to a significant extent.  

In 2013, the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights [Geneva Academy] conducted research on behalf of Protecting Education in Insecurity and Conflict [PEIC], looking into United Nations human rights mechanisms and education during insecurity and armed conflict, identifying trends in the practice and contribution of UN human rights mechanisms to the protection of education. In parallel, the International Committee of the Red Cross [ICRC] carries out a number of activities to protect and assist people affected by armed conflict and other situations of violence, and promotes respect for humanitarian law – particularly its provisions related to education. The ICRC calls on parties to armed conflict to respect children and teachers, as well as educational facilities, and to take all feasible measures to prevent the use of such civilian buildings for purposes that could cause them to lose their protection under humanitarian law. The ICRC also undertakes numerous activities to support the provision of education, including for children who are displaced, or detained.

On the occasion of the Human Rights Council’s 25th session, dedicated to “access to justice for children”, the ICRC, the Geneva Academy and Protecting Education in Insecurity and Conflict (PEIC) hosted a joint conference on the theme of “Promoting and Protecting Education in Situations of Armed Conflict”. The conference aimed to create a forum for lively and constructive discussion amongst the panelists on the theme of protecting and promoting education in situations of armed conflict. This included debating the legal frameworks applicable to this issue, sharing ‘lessons-learned’ and exploring practical approaches, based on the experiences of the panelists and their respective organizations.



  • Stuart Casey-Maslen, Head of Research, Geneva Academy
  • Geoffrey Corn, Professor of Law, South Texas College of Law
  • Courtney Erwin, Legal Program Manager, Education Above All (Protect Education in Insecurity and Conflict – PEIC)
  • Gloria Gaggioli, Thematic Legal Adviser, ICRC
  • Megan Rock, Child Protection Adviser, ICRC
  • Bede Sheppard, Deputy Director, Children's Rights Division, Human Rights Watch
  • Ellen van Kalmthouth, Global Education Cluster Coordinator and Senior Education Adviser, UNICEF
  • Moderated by Vincent Bernard, Editor-in-Chief, International Review of the Red Cross

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