The Right to Safe Schools

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It is relentless. This week, there were two more attacks on schoolchildren both in Afghanistan, one at a girls’ school, where staff were bludgeoned and bombs set off, and the other at a neighboring boys’ school, where a classroom was sprayed with bullets.

The number of casualties in both assaults remains unknown. But the cause is all too well known: There is a war against education.

Schools should be as safe as hospitals bearing a red cross, or as buildings and vehicles that bear the United Nations’ blue symbol. Yet they are not.

One way to give schools this status is to define attacks on children and teachers in classrooms as crimes against humanity. Schools already have the same legal status as hospitals under international law; they should also be subject to agreements that guarantee that they are never used as instruments of war, as many of them have become.

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