By: Darin Reeves
As a much-anticipated centre piece of this two day conference, hosted by the Argentinian Ministries of Defence and Foreign Affairs together with the Government of Norway to discuss the implementation of the Safe Schools Declaration, The Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative launched Implementing the Guidelines: A Toolkit to Guide Understanding and Implementation of the Guidelines for Protecting Schools and Universities from Military Use during Armed Conflict (the Toolkit). Attended by representatives from 80 states, together with international organizations and civil society representatives from around the world, this conference highlighted the release of the Toolkit, made up of practical tools intended as teaching aids, tactical and operational guidance materials and aides-memoire specifically designed for state and non-state military planners, at both the operational and tactical levels.
In designing the Toolkit, created on behalf of the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack (GCPEA), the Dallaire Initiative relied upon the extensive experience and knowledge gained from working with security sector actors from around the world, together with our unique understanding of the most important issues faced by the security sector. Building on the Guidelines, which provide non-binding, practical yet aspirational guidance to encourage parties to conflict to better protect the special civilian character of schools and universities, the Toolkit itself translates this guidance into real-world approaches, contextual solutions and planning considerations of assistance to forces in the field.
Speaking to the assembly in presenting the Toolkit, the Director of Training Darin Reeves stated that the Toolkit is intended to assist security sector actors be proactive, rather than reactive, in their approach to protecting education in areas of armed conflict and that by protecting schools, children’s rights and the children themselves will remain protected. “This Toolkit emphasises the ‘Humanitarian’ in International Humanitarian Law, and by assisting security sector actors at the point of first contact with schools, students and educators will provide practical tools and guidance to ensure that education can continue. This supports our own work in creating practical, proactive solutions to ending the recruitment and use of child soldiers, and to supporting children’s rights in areas of armed conflict”.