In May 2015, Watchlist worked with a group of international and national child protection actors in Bangui in lobbying the government to endorse the Safe Schools Declaration. The Declaration represents a commitment towards the implementation of the Guidelines for Protecting Schools and Universities from Military Use during Armed Conflict that were developed since the beginning of 2012 through a consultative process which included representatives of civil society, governments and UN agencies. The Guidelines provide concrete guidance to states and non-state armed groups to increase compliance with international norms on the protection of education from military use in situations of armed conflict.
Following a meeting convened by the Education Cluster in Bangui, Watchlist introduced the Guidelines and helped to revise and finalize an advocacy letter, supported by eight international and national child protection actors, to encourage the government to endorse the Declaration. Watchlist met with technical staff at the Ministry of Education to solicit their feedback on the letter, before formally sharing it with the Minister of Education and the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Upon returning to New York City, Watchlist contacted the Central African Republic (CAR) diplomatic mission to the United Nations to inform them of the Declaration and recent lobbying efforts. Meanwhile in CAR, a Watchlist consultant, with support from the Education Cluster coordinator, followed up with the Minister of Education, who ultimately agreed to endorse the Declaration. Ultimately, CAR’s diplomatic mission in Geneva signed the endorsement letter. The decision represents a significant commitment by the Government to increase efforts to protect education from military use, offering an opportunity to make additional recommendations on key programmatic strategies to implement the Guidelines.