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Updated On: Thursday, November 23 2017

Gordon Brown Calls for End to “Shameful” Violence Against Children

Photo: UN Photo / Mark Garten

Content by: South-South News

18 March 2015, New York, USA | Brendan Pastor – Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has called for an end to the "shameful" violations of international law as when children and educational facilities are targeted in areas of conflict.

"Today I am making a plea from the heart to the conscience of the world that we now wake up to the suffering faced by millions of children," Brown said during a press conference at the United Nations headquarters today.

"It is time for us to end the shameful breaches of international law that violate the rights of millions of children by calling a halt to the militarization of schools, stopping the now-growing abduction of school pupils as weapons of war and insisting – even in conflict zones – that properly resourced 'safe schools' enable children to enjoy their education in peace," he added.

From Nigeria to Pakistan, terrorism and violent conflict have already claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands over the past few years. However, often neglected are the effects of the conflict on children's education and, by extension, the health of societies as entire generations risk losing out access to learning and developmental growth.

In his current role as UN special envoy on global education, Brown has visited several countries affected by armed violence and conflict, in particular areas of sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, where children have become victims of the fighting. He has called for a series of policy measures and multilateral initiatives aimed at shoring up international support for education and safety for school children.

During the press conference, Brown explained the development of the Safe Schools Initiative – a partnership between stakeholders and national governments that help ensure protected education facilities. Currently there are three countries benefitting from the initiative, Brown said: Pakistan, Nigeria and Lebanon.

However, the envoy noted, any gains in education risk being set back by unaddressed violence and extremism.

Citing figures compiled by the United Nations, Brown said there have been over 10,000 attacks on schools in the last five years – an historic high. 28 million boys and girls are not enrolled in schools due to conflicts and emergencies. And while much of this can be contributed to the basic prevalence of violence in certain areas, the fact that belligerents in the conflicts are unclear about the rules and guidelines ensuring protection of schools as listed in the Geneva Conventions helps compound the devastation.

Simply put, not enough is known about the rights of children and their education, and by extension not enough is done at regional or global levels.

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