Canada endorses Safe Schools Declaration

News Release

February 21, 2017 - Ottawa, Ontario - Global Affairs Canada

Education is a fundamental right that Canada is proud to defend, at home and abroad. Today, the Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, and the Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of National Defence, announced Canada’s endorsement of the Safe Schools Declaration.

The declaration expresses the international community’s unwavering support for the protection of students, teachers and their schools during armed conflict and was opened for endorsement by countries represented at the Oslo Conference on Safe Schools, held in Oslo, Norway, on May 28, 2015. 

By endorsing the declaration—which also recognizes the importance of education—Canada reaffirms its commitment to protect children affected by armed conflict. Safe and peaceful access to schools allows children to thrive and grow, as well as obtain an education that will help them reach their full potential. Canada now joins 57 other countries that have already endorsed the Safe Schools Declaration. The declaration will also inform the planning and conduct of the Canadian Armed Forces during armed conflict. 


“Canada believes that all girls and boys must be able to attend school without fear of being targeted, especially in conflict situations. Education is a right, and schools should be places where all students, regardless of where they live, can come together in peace to learn about their community and the world.”

- Hon. Chrystia Freeland, P.C., M.P., Minister of Foreign Affairs

“Education shouldn’t be seen as a privilege, but as a basic right. Regardless of where children grow up, it’s through education that our youth learn about how to interact with society and where values of openness and respect are taught. By endorsing the Safe Schools Declaration, Canada is reaffirming its commitment to defend and protect the rights of children in conflict zones.”

- Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of International Development and La Francophonie

“Education provides young people in conflict zones with an opportunity to escape violence and with the foundation to ensure that states and communities thrive once conflict has ended. Canada strongly condemns attacks on schools and educational facilities, the unlawful recruitment of children into armed groups and the use of child soldiers, and firmly supports the Safe Schools Declaration, which works to keep schools and universities in conflict zones free from violence.”

- Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of National Defence 

Quick Facts

  • An estimated 250 million children live in countries and areas affected by armed conflict. Some children have permanent disabilities as a result of landmines and other explosive devices, while many more suffer psychological trauma.
  • Canada actively works with partners to prevent the unlawful recruitment and use of children by armed groups and to promote their release and reintegration into their communities.

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