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H H Sheikha Moza bint Nasser with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the sidelines of the high-level panel discussion on human rights at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, yesterday.
Geneva: H H Sheikha Moza bint Nasser yesterday said that education continues to be a victim of conflict and millions of children are denied education in conflict zones around the world.
Sheikha Moza made the case for the role of the right to education in development while addressing a high-level panel of the Human Rights Council (HRC) at its 22nd regular session in Geneva, in presence of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
She pointed out that the Secretary-General has the challenge of seeking global agreement on a vision for a sustainable future, noting that the scale of this task is immense, but so is the scale of the problems that still plague the world today. In Gaza, for example, the impact of the blockade continues to have a crippling effect, especially on education. Schools have been damaged and supplies— from chairs to textbooks and pencils — cannot get in. Since 2009, the Al Fakhoora programme has been working with the UNDP to enable young people to pursue higher education, helping to reconstruct education buildings, providing psycho-social support, Sheikha
Moza said. Today, 28 million children across the world are denied schooling because of conflict. Yet, education is one of the most powerful tools that can break the cycle of conflict, she added.
She expressed hope to see the future sustainable development goals take a more ambitious approach to education.
“That is why I launched the Educate A Child initiative last year. It is working with expert partners, from UN agencies with global reach, to NGOs with local roots,” she said.
Sheikha Moza noted that the initiative is already supporting half a million children in the most difficult circumstances gain access to schooling, and “We are still seeking out innovative partnerships to help us reach millions more children.”
“Our discussion can bring a valuable contribution to the process. We are not starting from scratch. The Millennium Development Goals are still unfinished business and we must complete them,” she stressed.
Sheikha Moza underlined that strengthening the human rights dimension in the development goals is the best way to ensure that these goals will also be enforceable.
An accountability mechanism, similar to the Universal Periodic Review, would reduce the scope for violations, by drawing scrutiny from the global community — not only over a country’s human rights record, but also its commitment to human development for all, she said.
“That is why it is now so important that we uphold this principle of universality in the Universal Periodic Review,” HH Sheikha Moza said.
The MDGs are one of the most ambitious programs in the history of the United Nations. She urged the Council to use all appropriate measures to ensure that this Review continues to be an equal process.
Crucially, Sheikha Moza said that combining human rights and development will bring mutually-reinforcing benefits.