The protection of children against violence, exploitation, and abuse is an international obligation for States Parties to the UN Convention on the Right of the Child. Non-state actors also have customary international law obligations to protect children.
Children face a myriad of possible threats to their life, well-being, and development. The level of risk to any child depends on a number of factors such as economic and family situation, social environment, the level of violence, the existence of a disability, and gender.
Increasing attention is being paid to the development of national systems of child protection, and tackling impunity for violence against children and women. Child protection in an armed conflict and other situations of armed violence is a particular challenge. Protection work should be conducted in close collaboration with children and young people but always in confidentiality and in full respect of their rights.
The Geneva Academy is currently conducting two projects related to child protection.
Military Use of Educational Establishments Project
On 29–30 May 2012, a roundtable was co-organized by the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack (GCPEA) and the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights to discuss ways to address the military use of education institutions during armed conflict and analogous situations of armed violence. This formed part of a broader GCPEA initiative to raise awareness and increase understanding about the issue among selected stakeholders and, subsequently, to develop and disseminate guidelines on how to minimise the use of educational establishments by armed forces and armed groups. The project has been supported by the GCPEA.
The role of United Nations Treaty Bodies in the Protection of Education
The Geneva Academy has been commissioned by Education Above All to conduct systematic research into the practice of the UN human rights supervisory and enforcement mechanisms regarding education-related violations of international law. Over the coming year, the Academy research team will compile relevant materials for the period 2007–2012, reflecting the direct and indirect usage, application and interpretation of relevant norms of the UN human rights system concerning the right to, and protection of, education in the context of armed conflict and insecurity. In addition, a project-specific database will be created to store and help analyse the results of the research. Based on the material and trends identified in the treatment of the subject matter by the UN bodies, the Academy will evaluate practice at the substantive, procedural, and institutional levels.
GCPEA was founded in 2010 and is governed by a Steering Committee comprised of the following organizations: Education Above All, Education International, Human Rights Watch, Institute of International Education’s Scholar Rescue Fund, Save the Children, UNESCO, UNHCR, and UNICEF. For more information visit GCPEA’s website: www.protectingeducation.org.