Why the UK has to take some responsibility for refugees fleeing from conflict zones…

The UK government seems to be hesitant in decision making concenring the present ‘refugee’ crisis as if it should be someone else’s responsibility. It may be worth exploring the link between Britain’s involvement in arms manufacture and selling  and the results of conflict that are partly fuelled by the manufacture and trade in arms.

World’s largest arms exporters

The units in this table are so-called trend indicator values expressed in millions of U.S. dollars at 1990s prices. These values do not represent real financial flows but are a crude instrument to estimate volumes of arms transfers, regardless of the contracted prices, which can be as low as zero in the case of military aid. Ordered by descending 2014 values. The information is from theStockholm International Peace Research Institute.[12]

2014 rank Supplier Arms exports
1  United States 10194
2  Russia 5971
3  China 1978
4  France 1200
5  Germany 1110
6  United Kingdom 1083
7  Israel 1074
8  Spain 824
9  Italy 786
10  Ukraine 664
11  Netherlands 561
12  Sweden 394
13   Switzerland 350
14  Turkey 274
15  Canada 234

Perhaps we can compare the profits made by companies who are promoting conflict by producing and selling arms to the state of education in the countries that suffer from conflict:

From the world education blog

$2.3 billion needed to send all children and adolescents to school in war zones

This blog details the contents of a new paper by the Education for All Global Monitoring Report on the barriers that conflict poses to getting all children and adolescents into school, and a new suggested target for financing education in humanitarian crises.

Click to enlarge

Our new paper, released today, one week before the Oslo Summit on Education for Development, shows that 34 million children and adolescents are out of school in war zones.  The paper shows that $2.3 billion is required to place them in school – ten times the amount that education is receiving from humanitarian aid right now.

One of the core reasons conflict is taking such a heavy toll on education is lack of financing. In 2014, education received only two per cent of humanitarian aid.

The paper determines that even the suggested target of at least 4%, championed since 2011, is grossly insufficient. Had this target been met in 2013, it would have left 15.5 million children and youth without any humanitarian assistance in education. In 2013, 4% of humanitarian aid would have left over 4 million children and youth in Afghanistan, nearly 1.6 million children and youth in Syria, and almost 3 million in Sudan without humanitarian support.

It may be reasonable to levy a higher proportion of a company’s profits who benefit from conflict so as to pay for the results of such conflicts – this has been promoted in environmental circles as ‘polluter pays’.

So there should be a link between those who promote conflict by providing arms and the impact on communities, families and children in particular.

The present ‘ refugee crisis’ should be more broadly discussed rather than narrow mindedly pinpointing the refugees as being the ’cause’ of the crisis.


Schools and Armed Conflict

From the latest newsletter from INEE:

Schools and Armed Conflict: A Global Survey of Domestic Laws and State Practice Protecting Schools from Attack and Military Use

(Human Rights Watch)

This report examines — in three separate chapters — law and state practice relevant to three issues: (1) protecting civilian objects (buildings and other infrastructure) from intentional attack; (2) protecting education buildings from intentional attack, and (3) deterring  education facilities from being used or occupied by government security forces and non-state armed groups.


Each chapter begins by examining the relevant international law, including both the international treaties that bind states that have ratified them, and what is known as customary international law, which is binding on all states. The report then analyzes how different countries are applying protections for education facilities within their own domestic law, especially within criminal law and military law. Finally, each chapter examines relevant examples of state behavior in providing these protections. Such examples can be particularly useful because state practice-especially when carried out in a way that indicates that the country accepts that it is legally required to act in a certain way-can be influential in understanding and developing customary international law.


To find out more and download the full report, click here

Children and Armed Conflict: Report of the Secretary-General

It is worrying period to be a child in many countries,apart from the rising number of sexual abuse cases as well as violence against children in ‘normal’ circumstances (i.e. in most countries) there is widespread condemnation about the abuse of children in situations of armed conflict. The report from the UN secretary general, below, provides some of the evidence of the perpetrators of the abuse of children in situations of armed conflict -but is enough done to control th etrade in arms and the manufacturers of the arms themselves? In many cases economies thrive on the production and sale of arms -so lets look at the bigger picture as well as the specifics listed below.

Children and Armed Conflict: Report of the Secretary-General

(UN General Assembly, UN Security Council)

The present report provides information on grave violations committed against children, in particular the recruitment and use of children, sexual violence against children, the killing and maiming of children, the abduction of children, attacks on schools and hospitals, and the denial of humanitarian access to children by parties to conflict in contravention of applicable international law (see sect. II). The report also describes progress made by parties to conflict on dialogue and action plans to halt the recruitment and use of children, sexual violence against children and the killing and maiming of children, as well as on the release of children associated with armed forces and armed groups (see sect. III).


The full report is available here


And from CRIN

The United Nations Secretary-General (SG) has issued his annual report on children and armed conflict to the Security Council which gives an overview of the situation of children in conflict zones and measures taken for their protection.

Annexes to the report include the so-called “list of shame”, a list of the countries that violate international standards on children and armed conflict. Each year, an updated version of the “list of shame” is included in the SG’s annual report. Read more.

The report is scheduled to be discussed by the Security Council during its annual open debate on Children and Armed Conflict. The debate will likely take place in September.

Last year, a new resolution extended the criteria for listing parties to the conflict in the annual report. The criteria now include parties that attack schools and hospitals. Prior to this resolution, the SG’s annual list was limited to parties who recruit or use, kill and/or maim children, or commit sexual violence.

Armed groups in Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and Iraq, all feature on the list, as well as the Syrian Government forces who regularly shell, burn, loot and raid schools, as well as assault or threaten teachers, students, and medical personnel.

The “list of shame” is growing rapidly. It now contains 52 names, 32 of which are so-called “persistent perpetrators” – parties to conflict whose names have featured on the “list of shame” for five years or more.

The number of persistent perpetrators has doubled since the Secretary-General 9th report. Read more.


New groups on the radar

The report included Syrian government forces and their allied Shabiha militia for the first time.”In almost all recorded cases, children were among the victims of military operations by government forces, including the Syrian armed forces, the intelligence forces and the Shabiha militia, in their ongoing conflict with the opposition, including the Free Syrian Army,” the report says.

Last week, Syria’s government was accused of carrying out a new massacre in a small village near the central city of Hama, with an opposition group claiming 100 people, including many women and children, had been killed.

“We have 100 deaths in the village of al-Qubair, among them 20 women and 20 children,” said Mohammed Sermini, spokesman for the Syrian National Council, who accused the regime of being behind the incident.

A few days earlier, over the weekend of 25 and 26 May, 49 children were killed in the El Houleh area of Homs, among a total of 116 victims, in a massacre that witnesses have described as a door-to-door killing spree. “[E]ntire families were shot in their houses,” said the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Some of the children were found with their hands tied behind their backs, with one witness recounting how in one home soldiers shot and killed children first so their parents would have to watch before being killed themselves.

A Special Session of the UN Human Rights Council on “The deteriorating human rights situation in the Syrian Arab Republic and the killings in El-Houleh” was held in Geneva on the 1st of June. The members of the Human Rights Council “condemned in the strongest possible terms the killings, confirmed by United Nations observers, of dozens of men, women and children and the wounding of hundreds more in the village of El-Houleh in attacks that involved a series of Government artillery and tank shellings on a residential neighbourhood.”

New parties were listed in Yemen (the First Armoured Division – FAD). In May, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) had expressed concern over the use of heavy weaponry, landmines, as well as the detonation of unexploded ordnance in Yemen that have claimed the lives of 27 children and maimed 32 others so far. According to the UN World Health Organization (WHO), the emergency in Yemen has all the characteristics of an acute humanitarian crisis, with nearly the entire population affected. Read more.

New parties were also listed in Sudan. Since violence broke out between Sudan and South Sudan a year ago, more than half a million people have been displaced by ongoing indiscriminate airstrikes by the Sudanese Armed Forces, as well as severe food shortages compounded by the Sudanese authorities’ refusal to allow independent humanitarian assistance into the areas. Read the report from Amnesty International.


And the veterans…

The Ugandan rebel group known as the Lord’s Resistance Army(LRA) remains among the most persistent perpetrators of grave violations against children. A new UN report released earlier this month, covering the period between July 2009 and February 2012, found evidence that at least 591 children, including 268 girls, were abducted and recruited by the LRA, mostly in DRC, but also in the Central African Republic (CAR), and in South Sudan.


New worrying trends

The report also highlights the increasing use of girls and boys as suicide bombers and “victim” bombers. “Victim” bombers are those who do not know that they are carrying explosives that are detonated from a distance. In 2011 alone, at least 11 children in Afghanistan and another 11 girls and boys in Pakistan were killed while conducting suicide attacks, some as young as eight years old.


De-listings, new action plans, releases of children

On a positive note, parties to conflict in Nepal and Sri Lanka have been removed from the list after their successful completion of Security Council-mandated action plans to end the recruitment and use of children. In 2011, five more parties in Afghanistan, the Central African Republic, Chad and South Sudan entered into similar agreements with the United Nations.

In 2011, the release of children associated with armed forces and armed groups have taken place in the Central African Republic, Chad, Colombia, DRC, Myanmar, South Sudan and Sudan.

Children and Justice During and in the Aftermath of Armed Conflict

From the latest INEE newsletter:

Children and Justice During and in the Aftermath of Armed Conflict

The purpose of this paper is to bring more conceptual clarity to the issue of children and justice in times of armed conflict by examining relevant legal provisions, academic discussions and a number of case studies. It attempts to articulate how children who have suffered grave violations during armed conflict can access justice and how the current system deals with child victims and witnesses. It also explores the issues surrounding responsibility of children who may have committed international crimes during conflict, the nature of their accountability and where they should be placed in the spectrum between total impunity and total responsibility.


The full report is available here

Children Affected by Armed Conflict – Applicable Rules?

Sometimes when you read accounts of wars and armed conflict in many places, you cannot imagine that there are any ‘rules’ that troops abide by during such conflicts. If there are any rules – are they applied and who polices them? Well there is some good news – International Humanitarian Law is continually being developed and can be applied through the International Courts. INEE has added the article below in its bi-weekly newsletter:

PUBLICATION: The UN Security Council’s Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism on Children Affected by Armed Conflict – Applicable Rules of International Humanitarian Law


This working paper aims to present the legal framework under international humanitarian law and related instruments applicable to the UN Security Council’s monitoring and reporting mechanism (MRM) on children affected by armed conflict. This mechanism monitors and reports on the six grave violations against children committed by parties to armed conflict. The six grave violations form the basis of the Security Council’s architecture in protecting children during war and include:

  1. Killing or maiming of children
  2. Recruitment or use of children as soldiers
  3. Rape and other grave sexual abuse of children
  4. Abduction of children
  5. Attacks against schools or hospitals
  6. Denial of humanitarian access for children

The working paper provides detailed information on each of the six grave violations.  Further, the report details the rights afforded to civilians, in specific children, in situations of conflict under international humanitarian law.

For access to the complete report, please click here.

And some more news about war and law,again from INEE:

ARTICLE: The Ambiguous Protection of Schools Under the Law of War – Time For Parity With Hospitals and Religious Buildings

(Gregory Raymond Bart)

An article in the Georgetown Journal of International Law by Gregory Raymond Bart addresses the disparate treatment of schools compared to hospitals and religious buildings under the law of war. According to Bart, a disturbing trend during recent armed conflicts has been the propensity to treat school buildings less respectively than hospitals and religious buildings. One important cause of this trend is the different privileged status afforded to each building type under the law of war.

The law of war equally forbids targeting hospitals, religious buildings, schools, and other civilian buildings unless they become justifiable military objectives. But ironically, it fails to equally protect these buildings from being used for such objectives in the first place. Under the law of war’s privileges for civilian hospitals and most religious buildings, armed forces cannot use these buildings for military purposes ­­– without exception. However, in contrast, according to the law of war schools are allowed to be used for military purposes if necessary. This is surprising because military use results in a school being transformed from being a protected site into a justifiable target for an opposing army. Even more troubling, such use increases the likelihood that an opposing army will confuse converted and unconverted schools and wrongfully attack one that shelters children and other civilians.

Bart identifies three critical issues that affect attempts by regimes to establish privileged status for a specific type of building during war: 1) defining which buildings qualify; 2) ensuring maintenance of privileged status by prohibiting their military use; and 3) ensuring their recognition by armed forces. Bart concludes that the law of war has evolved over the past century to better protect hospitals and religious buildings by addressing these issues. The current privilege for schools needs to similarly evolve. Most importantly, it should prohibit armies from using school buildings for military purposes.

For access to the full article, please click here.

Further resources on this topic can be found on the INEE blog here:

Celebrate -20th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)- free resources

As mentioned in an earlier post the 20th November is not only Universal Children’s Day, but also the 20th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.  The Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE) has produced a celebratory explanation of some of the articles of the CRC and also some important resources. INEE is an open global network of over 3,500 practitioners, students, teachers, staff from UN agencies, non-governmental organizations, donors, governments and universities who work together to ensure all persons the right to quality, relevant and safe educational opportunities.

From INEE:

Tomorrow, 20 November 2009, is the 20th anniversary of the Convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC), which is a legally binding international instrument spelling out the principles that Member States of the United Nations agree to be universal – for all children, in all countries and cultures, at all times and without exception, simply through the fact of their being born into the human family. The four core principles of the Convention are non-discrimination; the best interests of the child; the right to life, survival and development; and respect for the views of the child.

The CRC is of particular importance to education in emergencies, because it forcefully brings together provisions relevant to emergencies and armed conflict in ways that few other international treaties do, offering added protection for the consistently most vulnerable group: the child.

The following 2 articles affirm the right of the child to education, in emergencies, as well as in times of peace and stability:

Article 28 obliges all state parties to establish educational systems and ensure equal and non-discriminatory access to them. Especially primary education must be compulsory and free to all, but also secondary, vocational and higher education must be made progressively available. Education must be provided in a way that respects the dignity of the child at all times. Lastly, Article 28 obliges States to encourage and promote international cooperation, with particular account taken of the needs of developing countries.

Article 29 defines the aims of education, chief amongst these being that education shall be directed to the development of the child’s personality, talents and mental and physical abilities to their fullest potential. This echoes the over-riding principle of the CRC, as stated in Art. 3, of the best interest of the child, requires that schools be child-friendly in the fullest sense of the term and that they be consistent in all respects with the dignity of the child. Lastly, that education must be for “the preparation of the child for responsible life in a free society, in the spirit of understanding, peace, tolerance, equality of sexes, and friendship among all peoples, ethnic, national and religious groups and persons of indigenous origin”.

These 2 articles must be read together with a few other key articles in the Convention:

Article 2  on non-discrimination of any kind, irrespective of the child’s or his or her parent’s or legal guardian’s race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national, ethnic or social origin, property, disability, birth or other status.

Article 38 on the respect for the rules of international humanitarian law in times of conflict, ensuring the continued and specific protection of children and civilians, protecting them from taking part in hostilities and entering into armed forces.

Amnesty International

Article 6 (right to life); Article 9 (separation from parents); Article 12 (Respect for the views of the child); Article 19 (Child’s right to protection from all forms of violence); Article 22 (Refugee children); Article 39 (Rehabilitation of child victims); and the 1st Optional Protocol (On the Involvement of children in armed conflict).

Timor Leste -Ray Harris

The right to education is also articulated in many other international conventions and documents, which do not limit this right to children, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948); the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (1951); the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966); the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006); and the non-legally binding Dakar World Education Forum Framework for Action (2000), promoting Education for All.

More free resources

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, the body of independent experts responsible for reviewing progress made by States parties in implementing the Convention on the Rights of the Child, devoted its 2008 Day of General Discussion (DGD) on to articles 28 and 29 of the Convention dealing with the right to education, focusing upon the education of children in emergency situations. The day was intended to provide States and other actors with more comprehensive guidance as to their obligations to promote and protect the right to education as outlined in articles 28 and 29. For more information about the DGD, please click here.

The Committee released its report, including recommendations, which you can find on the INEE website along with several other supporting documents about the day. Among the recommendations particularly relevant to INEE members, the Committee:

  • calls upon States parties to honor their obligation to fully ensure the right to education for every child within their jurisdiction, without any discrimination, throughout all stages of emergency situations, including the emergency preparedness phase and the reconstruction and the post emergency phases.
  • calls upon States parties, donors and relief agencies to include education as an integral component of the humanitarian relief response from the outset.
  • urges all States parties, in particular those that are prone to natural disasters or in areas likely to be affected by armed conflict, to prepare a plan of action for the provision of the right to education in emergency situations.
  • urges States parties to fulfill their obligation therein to ensure schools as zones of peace and places where intellectual curiosity and respect for universal human rights is fostered; and to ensure that schools are protected from military attacks or seizure by militants; or use as centres for recruitment. The Committee urges States parties to criminalize attacks on schools as war crimes in accordance with article 8(2)(b) (ix) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and to prevent and combat impunity.
  • urges States parties, United Nations agencies, donors and relief agencies to ensure that INEE Minimum Standards are applied at all stages of humanitarian relief response in order to ensure the right of children to education in emergencies.
  • recommends that States parties and other international partners support child participation so that children can voice their views with regard to what they learn (the content) and how they learn (rights-based and child-centered active learning) and are empowered by the relevant content of education and the active learning process.

The DGD, and these ensuing recommendations on education in emergencies, built upon the 2008 report of Vernor Muñoz, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education on the right to education in emergencies. Many INEE members contributed to the contents of this report through questionnaires developed by the Special Rapporteur and disseminated on the INEE Listserv and Website. For a summary of the report, the full text for download in Spanish and English, and highlights relating specifically to INEE and the INEE Minimum Standards please click here.

Right to Education Project
The RTE site offers information and resources for States, civil society organisations and individuals on how to interpret and claim the right to education. It is centered on the basic premise that education must be available, accessible, acceptable and adaptable to all; that education systems must be accountable, participatory, transparent and non-discriminatory; and that education rights entails both the right to, in and through education.

UNICEF Website:  20th Anniversary of the CRC
The UNICEF site includes a Take Action center that articulates what individuals can do – visa via governments, families and communities, schools and teachers, the media, the private sector, and development and humanitarian organizations — to change the Convention from words on paper into real actions for children. It also contains a section for youth, helping them to understand the CRC, know their rights and take action: http://www.unicef.org/rightsite/433.htm

INEE Minimum Standards Toolkit Thematic Guide on Human & Children’s Rights
The INEE Minimum Standards present a global framework for coordinated action to enhance the quality of educational preparedness and response, increase access to relevant learning opportunities, and ensure humanitarian accountability in providing these services. The Convention on the Rights of the Child is one of the foundational documents for the INEE Minimum Standards. The tools and resources in this guide are a selection from the INEE Minimum Standards Toolkit that relate to the cross-cutting issue of human and children’s rights. To access the Thematic Guide, please click here. All of these resources are available online and on the INEE Minimum Standards Toolkit www.ineesite.org/toolkit.

Your Right to Education: A Handbook for Refugees and Displaced Communities
The Women’s Refugee Commission created Your Right to Education: A Handbook for Refugees and Displaced Communities to raise awareness of everyone’s right to education. The handbook uses drawings that readers at all levels can understand. It is hoped that you will share Your Right to Education with children, young people and adults in your community to help them better understand the right to education, how it fits with other human rights and the benefits that education may bring. It is also hoped that Your Right to Education will serve as a tool to discuss these issues in depth and to encourage action to expand and improve education in displaced communities. Click here to download the Handbook in English, French and Arabic.

A complimentary resource is Right to Education During Displacement. A resource for organizations working with refugees and internally displaced persons (2006, Women’s Refugee Commission), which is available here.

Child Rights Information Network (CRIN)
This website and listserv offers consistently high-quality and comprehensive information on the rights of the child as defined in the CRC. It also has a selection of resources relating to education. Explore the website, and sign-up for their listserv CRINMAIL here: www.crin.org.

A Human Rights Based Approach to Education for All
(2007, UNICEF and UNESCO)
This document brings together the current thinking and practice on human rights-based approaches in the education sector. It presents key issues and challenges in rights-based approaches and provides a framework for policy and programme development from the level of the school up to the national and international levels.While the predominant focus of the document is on primary basic education and child rights within education, it is based on the EFA goals and situated within lifecycle and lifelong learning approaches. It addresses the right to education as well as rights within education, which include human rights education itself. Click here to download this resource.