In this report, submitted pursuant to General Assembly resolution 48/141, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights considers the protection of economic, social and cultural rights in situations of armed conflict, with a specific focus on the rights to health and to education.

This important new report documents the major obstacles that prevent Syrian refugee children from getting formal education in Turkey, which is hosting more than 2 million refugees from the Syrian conflict that began in 2011. The government adopted an important policy in September 2014 that formally grants Syrian children access to public schools, but key obstacles including a language barrier, social integration issues, economic hardship, and lack of information about the policy, remain one year later.

Read more about the report, here.

This report looks at the challenges facing two countries on the front-line of the global refugee crisis – Lebanon and Turkey. Between them, these countries have some 732,000 children out of school aged 5-17. In both cases the level of need vastly outstrips the resources available. There are not enough teachers, schools or classrooms – and the education infrastructure that does exist is deteriorating. Refugee children face additional challenges in adapting to a new curriculum. Compounding these challenges, refugee poverty, insecurity and vulnerability create barriers of their own. While this report focuses on financing to deliver on the London Conference pledge, host governments also need to strengthen the reforms needed to deliver education to vulnerable refugees.

“Today, Syrian refugee children in Jordan face a bleak educational present, and an uncertain future. Close to one in three—226,000 out of 660,000—Syrians registered with the United Nations refugee agency in Jordan are school-aged children between 5-17 years old. Of these, more than one-third (over 80,000) did not receive a formal education last year.”

This report looks at the needs of Syrian refugee children in Jordan specifically around access to education, what success the Jordanian government has already had in getting Syrian child refugees into education, but also the considerable work still needs to meet the Jordanian government's ambitious target of increading enrollment amongst those children currently still without access to education.  The report also looks at what role donor financial aid is playing in helping to alleviate the situation.

Colombia está ante la histórica oportunidad de dejar atrás un conflicto que ha afectado directamente a su población por décadas. Los acuerdos finales entre el gobierno de Colombia y las FARC-EP permitirán la construcción de una paz estable y duradera. Sin embargo, la firma y refrendación del acuerdo de paz con las FARC-EP, de capital importancia, deben entenderse como el inicio del verdadero proceso para lograr la paz.

El Estado colombiano tendrá la obligación de establecer una presencia sobre los territorios más alejados y abandonados, de una forma positiva que genere confianza, cambios reales y oportunidades para los territorios rurales afectados por el conflicto. Dudar o fallar en ésta labor podría perpetuar el periodo de violencia y frustración.

La inequidad en Colombia tiene un fuerte sesgo rural. Los índices de pobreza y marginalidad, ausencia de servicios públicos y falta de acceso a una educación pertinente y de calidad, son excepcionales en estas regiones. Según el último censo nacional, el 45,6% de las personas residentes en el área rural dispersa vive en condiciones de pobreza multidimensional, porcentaje que incrementa al 63,8% cuando se hace referencia a la condición de pobreza de grupos étnicos y poblaciones desplazadas por el conflicto armado.

Adicionalmente, éstas mismas zonas rurales son históricamente las más afectadas por la presencia de actores armados y la violencia. Según un estudio de 2012, el 57% de los niños, niñas, adolescentes y jóvenes reclutados y vinculados por grupos armados procede de familias muy pobres que tienen severas restricciones en el consumo de alimentos y que se han desplazado como media 4,5 veces por violencia. La falta de educación, de oportunidades laborales y la condición de pobreza, se transformó en la receta perfecta para perpetuar el conflicto armado durante cinco décadas en el país.

La debilidad institucional y el conflicto confluyen en la precaria situación de la educación rural en materia de acceso, permanencia y calidad. Más de un 20% de los niños y adolescentes rurales entre 5 y 16 años no va a la escuela, porcentaje que se incrementa al 73,7% entre los 17 y 24 años. La mitad de los niños, adolescentes y jóvenes rurales no llega a superar el quinto grado.

Estos jóvenes tienen menos oportunidades de acceso al sistema escolar y no existen soluciones de fondo a los retos de calidad, permanencia y deserción. La falta de continuidad de la oferta educativa, el desplazamiento forzado, la pobreza y los problemas económicos, el coste de uniformes y útiles escolares, el transporte y la necesidad de trabajar son los principales problemas.

This video presents the work of the Education Cluster and the Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE). The vision of both bodies is to enable all children and young people to have immediate access or ensured continuity to a quality education in a safe environment, in order to protect, develop and facilitate a return to normality and stability.


The Guidelines were drawn up with the aim of better protecting schools and universities from use by armed groups for military purposes, and to minimise the negative impact that armed conflict has on students’ safety and education. They provide concrete guidance to states and non-state armed groups for the planning and execution of military operations. They may also serve as a tool for organisations engaged in monitoring, programming, and advocacy related to the conduct of armed conflicts.

States and intergovernmental bodies are urged to encourage all parties to armed conflicts to act in accordance with these Guidelines, and to help enable them to do so.

Endorsement of the Safe Schools Declaration by states includes a commitment to endorse and use the Guidelines, by implementing them through domestic policies. 

Commentary to the Guidelines is available, here

The Safe Schools Declaration is an inter-governmental political commitment that provides countries the opportunity to express support for protecting students, teachers, schools, and universities from attack during times of armed conflict; the importance of the continuation of education during armed conflict; and the implementation of concrete measures to deter the military use of schools.

By joining the Safe Schools Declaration, states commit to undertake several common-sense steps to make it less likely that students, teachers, schools, and universities will be attacked, and to mitigate the negative consequences when such attacks occur.

These measures include:

  • collecting reliable data on attacks and military use of schools and universities
  • providing assistance to victims of attacks
  • investigating allegations of violations of national and international law and prosecuting perpetrators where appropriate
  • developing and promoting 'conflict sensitive' approaches to education
  • seeking to continue education during armed conflict
  • supporting the UN's work on the children and armed conflict agenda
  • using the Guidelines for Protecting Schools and Universities from Military Use during Armed Conflict, and bringing them into domestic policy and operational frameworks as far as possible and appropriate

The Declaration is also a framework for collaboration and exchange, and endorsing states agree to meet on a regular basis to review implementation of the Declaration and use of the Guidelines.

The Guidelines for protecting schools and universities from military use during armed conflict can be found, here and the accompanying commentary, here,

Key resource

This document expresses a commitment that all individuals - children, youth and adults - have a right to education. The standards articulate the minimum level of educational quality and access in emergencies through to recovery. They can be used as a capacity-building and training tool for humanitarian agencies, governments and affected populations to enhance the effectiveness and quality of their educational assistance. They help to enhance accountability and predictability among humanitarian actors and improve coordination among partners, including education authorities. The INEE Minimum Standards are founded on the Convention of the Rights of the Child, the Dakar 2000 Education for All goals, and the Sphere Project's Humanitarian Charter.

Key resource

This comprehensive handbook focuses on education-related violations in suitations of insecurity and armed conflict. It explores the international legal protection afforded to both the right to education as a human right, and education more generally under international human rights law, international humanitarian law and international criminal law.