NEW YORK, OCTOBER 13 -“Twenty some years after the Graca Machel report, schools continue to be used for military purposes, including as military barracks, while children continue to be exploited as child soldiers or sexual slaves”, the Italian Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Inigo Lambertini told today the UN Security Council. “You may remember the events of April 2014, when Boko Haram kidnapped 276 girls from their school in Chibok in north-eastern Nigeria”, Lambertini added, pointing to Joy Bishara, one of the 57 girls who escaped from the terrorist group. Joy took part in today’s Arria formula meeting which was organized by the Italian delegation.
Lambertini welcomed the steps taken by the Security Council, mainly in resolution 1998, which identified recurrent attacks against schools or attacks or threats of attacks against protected persons in relation to schools as a “trigger” for listing in the annexes to the Secretary-General’s reports. Italy also welcomed the heightened attention of the international community to this issue, thanks to the Paris ministerial conference on “Protecting Children from War”, organized by France and UNICEF last February, and the Buenos Aires Conference on the progress of the Safe School Declaration, held last March.
Nevertheless, stronger efforts are needed to tackle the actions of some armed groups and terrorist organizations, such as Boko Haram, whose name (meaning “Western education is a sin”) is itself a tell-tale of its goals. In addition to laws and standards at the international level, Member States should adopt their own laws and policies to protect schools from military use, Lambertini said. Training of armed forces and police units on international humanitarian law and human rights is key, the Italian Ambassador said: “In Italy modules on the respect of human rights, of international humanitarian law and the protection of civilians are included in all the courses that CoESPU, the Centre of Excellence for Stability Police Units, offers each year to peacekeepers. Up to now, more than 10.000 peacekeepers, mostly coming from African countries, have been trained by the Centre of Excellence. (@OnuItalia)