Discorso pronunciato dall’Italia al Dibattito Aperto del Consiglio di Sicurezza su “Children and Armed Conflict: Attacks against Schools as a Grave Violation of Children’s Rights”. —
Italy aligns itself with the statement submitted by the European Union – as well as with the statement presented by Canada on behalf of the Group of Friends of Children And Armed Conflict (CAAC) – and would like to add the following remarks in its national capacity.
We would like to thank the Government of Niger for organizing this timely Open Debate, which offers the opportunity to highlight the unprecedented risks that education is facing at this extraordinary juncture and the need to keep on protecting and promoting education, particularly in situations of emergency. In this regard, we strongly appreciate the work of the Special Representative of the Secretary General on Children and Armed Conflict, UNICEF and the Global Coalition for the Protection of Education from Attack which significantly contribute to protect educational institutions, teachers and students in times of war.
On the occasion of the Fifth Anniversary of the Safe Schools Declaration, we welcome its growing endorsement by Member States. We have been sparing no efforts to promote the Declaration’s universal endorsement, by means of awareness raising campaigns, both at the multilateral and bilateral level. We are also engaged to ensure that concrete action is taken to respect the “Guidelines for Protecting Schools and Universities from Military Use during Armed Conflict”, which offer a guidance to better safeguard the civilian character of such facilities.
In line with its strong commitment to support education in emergencies, Italy presented an open pledge on the occasion of the 33rd Conference of the Red Cross and the Red Crescent, to guarantee that children live safely and enjoy their rights even in conflict situations. Through this pledge, we committed, among other things, to encouraging a wider support to the Safe School Declaration and to promoting its effective implementation. We also committed to fostering references to this issue in resolutions, statements and other relevant documents to be adopted by the UN and other multilateral fora.
During our last mandate on the United Nations Security Council, in 2017, we engaged in keeping up the Council’s attention on the protection of children in armed conflict, through the co-organization of an Arria meeting on attacks against schools. In 2018, Italy co-sponsored Resolution 2427, which focuses on children and armed conflict and deals extensively with the heinous crimes of attacks against schools.
We recall that attacks on civilian targets, such as schools and educational institutions, are prohibited under the international law and constitute grave breaches of the 1949 Geneva Conventions and war crimes under the Statute of the International Criminal Court. In order to guarantee a systematic and effective implementation of resolution 1998 (2011) and all other related resolutions, it is important to encourage the investigation of allegations of violations of applicable national and international law, and the prosecution of perpetrators, also by strengthening the relevant monitoring and reporting activities.
Armed attacks against schools and educational facilities, both by States and non-State armed groups, constitute one of the six grave violations against children in armed conflict, and undermine progress towards the Sustainable Development Goal of universal access to quality education by 2030. Schools are key in dealing with the psychological impact of armed conflict on children, offering them a momentary lapse from the horrors of war and preparing them to build a better future. We have the duty to strengthen our efforts to allow children to enjoy their childhood and give them hope for a better future, even in times of war.
Italy will continue to engage and advocate for the respect, protection and promotion of the rights of children, as they represent the backbone of our present and future society.