International Day to Protect Education from Attack

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On the second International Day to Protect Education from Attack, this jointly organised event with Save the Children takes stock of the work undertaken by the UK government.

Attacks on children, schools and educators, as well as the military use of educational infrastructure, have received increased attention in recent years. In 2015, the governments of Norway and Argentina led a process among UN member states to develop the Safe Schools Declaration, a voluntary international agreement dedicated to the protection of education in armed conflict. The Declaration sets out a number of key commitments states can make to protect education, including bringing the Guidelines for Protecting Schools and Universities from Military Use During Armed Conflict into domestic policy. The UN General Assembly has designated 9 September as the International Day to Protect Education from Attack.

Yet attacks on children and schools perpetrated by armed forces and groups persist. The Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack documented over 11,000 reports of attacks on education or military use of educational facilities globally between 2015 and 2019 – incidents which in total harmed over 22,000 children, teachers and education personnel, and caused untold damage to educational infrastructure. Attacks on schools and university facilities occurred on a near daily basis in countries like Yemen and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

In 2018, the UK endorsed the effort, with then Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson declaring the UK government’s ‘political support for the protection of schools during military operations and armed conflict’ and promising that ‘the UK will encourage relevant international partners to endorse the Declaration’. As well as taking stock of the work undertaken by the UK government to make this commitment a reality, we ask: what more could be done to better protect the children, and how can we work collectively to ensure this happens?

Watch the keynote session


  • Helen Grant MP,Prime Minister’s Special Envoy on Girls’ Education
  • Veronique Aubert, Co-chair, Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack (GCPEA)
  • Rocco Blume, Head of Policy and Advocacy, War Child
  • Lt Col Matt Smith, Operations Officer, Permanent Joint Headquarters

Chair: Steven Haines, Professor of Public International Law, Greenwich University

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