Switzerland thanks Niger and Norway for organising this meeting and the speakers for their contributions.
"One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world." These are the words of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai, herself a proof of the power of education. Yet 127 million children are out of school because they are displaced or affected by humanitarian crisis, including in conflict areas. Students, teachers and schools remain too often the target of attacks by parties to the conflict. Switzerland strongly condemns the targeting of schools, teachers and students in violation of international law.
Switzerland welcomes the unanimous adoption of the first Security Council resolution on education in conflict. We must ensure its full implementation. I would like to highlight three elements:
First, all parties to armed conflict must comply with the obligations under international law for the protection of children in armed conflict, in order to ensure the education and protection of students, teachers and schools. We support all efforts to protect education from attack, including the Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism. Switzerland is also engaged as co-chair of the Groups of Friends on Children and Armed Conflict for Yemen and Syria. Furthermore, we encourage all Member States to join the Safe Schools Declaration to ensure its implementation. For example, Switzerland has amended its military handbook on operational law to avoid military use of education institutions.
Second, children are among those most affected by disruptions of basic services and security risks. We welcome the resolution's focus on girls and children who are often at high risk, such as sexual violence. The Security Council and member states should ensure the protection and upholding of the right to education. This should be done with special attention to girls and boys in vulnerable situations, displaced, in the process of reintegration, refugees or with disabilities.
Third, reconstruction efforts should be the result of collaboration between the various actors involved on the ground – humanitarian, development and peace actors. In our international co-operation strategy, Switzerland promotes an integrated approach, bringing together child protection and education. In crisis situations, education must remain a humanitarian priority. The efforts of the Geneva Global Hub for Education in Emergencies, result of a pledge by Switzerland and other actors at the 2019 World Refugee Forum, aim to do just that.
A book, a pen: these simple objects can make a difference. For a child, staying in school in times of crisis means survival, protection and hope. The protection of education and of children in armed conflicts will remain a priority for Switzerland.
Thank you for your attention.