© Right to Education Initiative
27 June 2019

PRESS RELEASE (Geneva, 27 June 2019) Civil society organisations welcomed the new report by UN Special Rapporteur on the right to education, Dr Boly Barry, which she presented yesterday and today before the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC). The report makes a cutting-edge analysis of the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goal 4 in accordance with the right to education, and in particular of the recently adopted Abidjan Principles on the right to education, in the context of the growth of private actors.

Civil society expressed their support for the report in an oral statement urging States to consider the use of the Abidjan Principles to inform their efforts to implement SDG 4 and their education programs. 

According to the civil society statement, SDG 4 is an important tool to advance towards the elimination of educational inequalities and ensure access to quality and accountable education for all. However, as the UN Special Rapporteur illustrates, SDG 4 can only be effectively realised if it is implemented in accordance with the right to education. In this regard, we commend the Special Rapporteur’s detailed analysis of the Abidjan Principles on the right to education, which makes a compelling case for using the Abidjan Principles as a tool to successfully implement SDG 4’.

During the dialogue, States overwhelmingly expressed support for the Abidjan Principles, and largely committed to provide quality public education and regulate private involvement in education in line with the Abidjan Principles. This was for instance reflected in the response of Tanzania, which indicated working with 'development partners such as UNESCO in order to achieve Guiding Principle No  29' related to the right to public education. Similarly, Burkina Faso considered that 'greater attention must be paid to public education, in accordance with the Abidjan Principles'.

Guiding Principle 29 states that, States must respect, protect, and fulfil the right to free public education of the highest attainable quality.

The UN Special Rapporteur’s report recommended that States review their laws, policies and practices in accordance with the Abidjan Principles and to pilot projects for their implementation.

Namibia commended the UN Special Rapporteur’s recommendations and committed to 'take steps to study and evaluate its position in relation to implementing the Abidjan Principles.' Ukraine equally considered that 'the Abidjan Principles presented by the Special Rapporteur provide for an innovative reference tool for states and other stakeholders to consider specific solutions to implement the right to education in the evolving environment.'

In the same spirit, Azerbaijan asked how to implement the Abidjan Principles in territories under occupation, and Ecuador stated that 'the Abidjan Principles [...] are an important guide for the States and private providers of education', while France 'welcomed their adoption'. 

Côte d’Ivoire, which hosted the adoption conference, further called on UNESCO to put the Abidjan Principles at the core of its activities.

Reacting to these comments, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to education noted that 'almost all delegations support the Abidjan Principles, which represents, in a way, their validation'

These statements build on the growing momentum of support for the Abidjan Principles on the right to education, by stakeholders. In a resolution published earlier in June, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights recognised the Abidjan Principles as guidelines for States to meet their human rights obligations. Two weeks ago, the Global Partnership for Education also recognised the Abidjan Principles in its new private sector engagement strategy.

Civil society organisations are increasingly using  the Abidjan Principles for research and advocacy purposes. In the joint paper on education issued ahead of the forthcoming G7 meeting in 2019, 58 civil society organisations are asking States to take a leading role in the implementation of the Abidjan Principles. Similarly, ActionAid International recently released a multi-country research on private education  and a policy brief using the Abidjan Principles to analyse and propose constructive solutions to the education challenges at the national level 

The Abidjan Principles on the right to education are a set of legal principles developed by over 50 of the most eminent experts on the right to education and adopted in February 2019. Drawing from rigorous analysis and a three-year consultation process, they unpack existing international human rights law in order to provide guidance to States and other stakeholders about the implementation of the right to education. 


  • ActionAid International

  • Amnesty International

  • Brazilian Campaign for the Right to Education

  • East African Centre for Human Rights

  • Equal Educational Law Centre

  • Ghana National Education Campaign Coalition

  • Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

  • Initiative for Social and Economic Rights

  • Right to Education Initiative