Restoring Children's Right to Education during and after War The Case of Ukraine

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Abstract

The need to protect children in armed conflicts has become urgent, especially since the 1990s, and is now outstanding in the war in Ukraine. Among the violations against children in Ukraine that were identified by the UN Secretary General in 2005, were attacks on schools and hospitals. This article discusses the question of how the violation of the right to education during armed conflict can be redressed and suggests a mechanism for doing so. It uses the Russia-Ukraine war (2022) as a case study. The legal protection of children's rights in armed conflict is facilitated by three branches of international law: international humanitarian law (or the laws of armed conflict); international human rights law; and international criminal law. This article will address the first two as well as, in a more limited way, the law of refugees. The article discusses the significance of the child's right to education. It provides empirical data on how this right is jeopardised during armed conflicts and offers recommendations regarding what the international community can do to secure this right as far as possible during, as well as directly after, armed conflict. The article suggests a mechanism that would involve states parties to the crc, the crc Committee, and the establishment of a trust fund to compensate states that have suffered an armed conflict, and to use the compensation to redress the right to education. This arrangement could be regulated by an additional protocol to the crc. States parties to the crc that ratified the additional protocol would be required to contribute to the fund (according to a socio-economic index). States parties subjected to armed conflicts would be permitted to use the trust funds primarily if they proved they were compliant (before the eruption of the conflict) with their treaty obligations to secure the right to education according to the Concluding Observations of the crc Committee. There could also be exceptions, depending on the specific circumstances of each case. This mechanism would be advantageous in that it would use the already-existing crc Committee and the expertise and experience of its members and would also increase the accountability of states parties to the crc for their treaty obligations. In this way, it would also tackle a larger problem: the difficulty of imposing states' accountability for their obligations under human rights law treaties.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)225-267
Number of pages43
JournalInternational Journal of Children's Rights
Volume31
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2023

Keywords

  • armed conflicts
  • crc
  • human rights law
  • humanitarian law
  • Russia
  • the right to education
  • Ukraine
  • UN trust funds
  • unicef

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