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HH Sheikha Moza led a call for action for the protection of education at the Social Forum of the Human Rights Council
Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Chairperson of Education Above All and UN Sustainable Development Goals Advocate, led a call to action on the protection of education as a fundamental human right in conflict during a keynote address at the annual Social Forum of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland this morning.
The Social Forum 2019 brought together UN Member States representatives, NGOs, civil society actors, and high-level figures, including UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, at the United Nations Office to discuss “the promotion and protection of the rights of children and youth through education.”
In her speech, Her Highness made an impassioned case for the devastating consequences of prolonged armed conflict, highlighting the personal stories of the children who are living in conflict with little to no access to education. She additionally called upon the international community to take true accountability of the long-term, global effect of not ensuring every child has access to quality education.
“People think conflicts come and go. But, we know now for a fact that when conflicts come, they come to stay,” Her Highness said. “For education, what has been lost will be impossible to restore. Where there is no education, there will be no nation. If we do not turn the tide, we will continue to pay a high price.”
Violations of the right to education persist worldwide. Today the right to education remains more of a statement of principle rather than a reality for 264 million primary and secondary age children and youth that are out of school. Indeed, Her Highness challenged everyone in the room to hold those for those who deliberately target schools in conflict accountable through innovative and collective action.
“Governments need to form binding agreements for the protecting education, but these binding agreements will only work if everyone signs and ratifies,” she said. She continued saying that civil society plays a vital role in protection as “effective change happens locally when people of different backgrounds listen and learn from each other.”
In concluding, Her Highness proposed setting an annual international day for the protection of education during conflict to recognize and measure progress on protection, as well as help identify missing gaps on a yearly basis. The day aims to keep protection of education at the top of the public agenda.
The Social Forum is a meeting convened by the Human Rights Council to provide a space for open and interactive dialogue, which will form the basis for recommendations in a report to be submitted and presented at the forty-third session of the Human Rights Council.