Statement on the International Day to Protect Education from Attack

U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
June 9, 2020

Statement on the Resolution for the International Day to Protect Education from Attack

The United States joins consensus on this “International Day to Protect Education from Attack” resolution, and strongly believes that education in emergencies can provide life-saving safe spaces, access to information and other services, a foundation for lifelong learning, and hope for the future. We know education can provide safety and normalcy for children affected by crisis. Education is a way to help young people heal, but it is also the way to improve the stability and economy of entire countries. Allowed to learn, grow, and flourish, children will grow up to contribute both to the communities that host them and to their homelands when peace allows them to return.

The United States remains firmly committed to providing equal access to quality education. In joining consensus on this resolution, we note that States have a wide array of policies and actions that may be appropriate in striving to provide quality education for all girls and boys, and we believe that this non-binding resolution should not try to define the elements of, or requirements for, a quality education. We understand that when the resolution calls on States to strengthen various aspects of education, this is done in terms as appropriate and consistent with our respective federal, state, and local authorities.

With respect to the right to education, the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights provides that each State Party undertakes to take the steps set out in Article 2(1) “with a view to achieving progressively the full realization of the rights.” We interpret references to the obligations of States as applicable only to the extent they have assumed such obligations, and with respect to States Parties to the Covenant, in light of its Article 2(1). The United States is not a Party to the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights. We note that countries have a wide array of policies and actions that may be appropriate in promoting the progressive realization of economic, social, and cultural rights, and we therefore believe that resolutions should not try to define the content of those rights.

With respect to the use of schools for military purposes, we note that there may be circumstances in which such use is lawful under international humanitarian law, but we strongly urge all parties to armed conflict to comply with their obligations regarding schools and to avoid all unlawful uses of schools for military purposes.

Regarding our position with respect to the 2030 Agenda, we underscore that the 2030 Agenda is non-binding and does not create or affect rights or obligations under international law, nor does it create any new financial commitments. The United States recognizes the 2030 Agenda as a global framework for sustainable development that can help countries work toward global peace and prosperity. We applaud the call for shared responsibility, including national responsibility, in the 2030 Agenda and emphasize that all countries have a role to play in achieving its vision. The 2030 Agenda recognizes that each country must work toward implementation in accordance with its own national policies and priorities. Further, the United States understands any references to “internationally agreed development goals” to be referring to the 2030 Agenda.

The United States also underscores that paragraph 18 of the 2030 Agenda calls for countries to implement the Agenda in a manner that is consistent with the rights and obligations of States under international law. We also highlight our mutual recognition that 2030 Agenda implementation must respect and be without prejudice to the independent mandates of other processes and institutions, including negotiations, and does not prejudge or serve as precedent for decisions and actions underway in other forums. For example, this Agenda does not represent a commitment to provide new market access for goods or services. This Agenda also does not interpret or alter any WTO agreement or decision, including the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property.