This study examines the relationship between institutional autonomy and the security of higher education institutions from violent and coercive attacks. The paper includes a review of the limited literature available, as well as a series of examples illustrating different forms of attacks. These include arrests related to classroom content in Zimbabwe, sectarian divisions in Iraq, impunity for murders of academics in Pakistan, and physical intimidation on campuses in Tunisia. The study suggests that institutional autonomy plays a direct and indirect protective function. It directly helps protect systems of higher education from government interference, making it more difficult for states to act as perpetrators. It also indirectly helps preserve higher education against actual and perceived politicization and ideological manipulation, which in turn might help insulate it from attacks by nonstate parties. The study suggests a framework for examining questions of autonomy and security which in turn suggests a need to develop strategies aimed at increasing autonomy and security simultaneously. This necessarily requires approaches aimed at encouraging states to fulfill their obligations not to engage in or to be complicit in attacks (negative obligations) and obligations to protect higher education from attack and to deter future attacks by holding perpetrators accountable (positive obligations). The study concludes with brief recommendations on how different stakeholders might work to encourage greater understanding and implementation of these obligations, including further research, expert roundtables and information-sharing, development of guidelines and related advocacy campaigns.

The report examines the different types of attacks on schools, what motivates attacks and their impact on children. Country case studies are included, looking at attacks on education in Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali, occupied Palestinian territory and Israel, Pakistan and Syria.

Only very low levels of humanitarian funding are provided for education. This prevents the education sector from responding swiftly to needs after periods of intense conflict – including responding to the effects of attacks on education and restoring schooling.

This report sets out how education can be better protected from attacks and how the international community can support ways of restoring education when it has been affected by conflict. It makes recommendations to governments, the UN, and humanitarian donors and agencies.

 

This report begins by examining some of the explicit and implicit causes of attacks on girls’ education during peacetime and in situations of crisis, including settings of armed conflict, political instability and widespread criminal violence. It looks at the impact of attacks against girls accessing education on their rights to and within educational systems as well as the broader consequences of these attacks on the promotion and protection of human rights through education by focusing on the linkages between education and a host of other civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. The applicable international legal and policy framework is then outlined and the situation of girls accessing education within settings of crisis, political instability and conflict is analysed in greater detail. The final section of the report provides several recommendations to States and other stakeholders aimed at preventing and redressing violations of girls’ rights to, within and through education.