HimRights and PPCC Protect the Right to Education in Armed Conflict

Children’s rights, especially their right to education, were widely violated during the armed conflict between Maoist insurgents and security forces in Nepal in 1996—2006. Schools were used as base camps, destroyed or closed for long periods of time, and young students were recruited into insurgent forces. PPCC and its member organization HimRights investigate and bring to court violations of children’s rights. In despite of the achieved peace agreement, a lot of work remains to be done.

In Nepal even the walls bear witness to the violations of Nepalese children’s rights. Even schools have not provided Nepalese children refuge from constant fear, as school walls have been covered with violent graffiti and aggressive political messages. In 2006 a group of human rights actors, teachers and students decided to act against the fear the graffiti caused, by painting it over with new child-friendly messages. The school walls began to speak the language of peace.

Photo: KIOS

Photo: KIOS

The initiative for the peace graffiti project came from Partnership for Protecting Children in Armed Conflict Working Group (PPCC), a network formed by local and international NGOs in 2005 to promote Nepalese children’s right to education.

Child rights were widely abused during the armed conflict between Maoist insurgents and security forces in Nepal, which began in 1996. The right to education was particularly harshly targeted, for which reason PPCC has targeted its work specifically at promoting this right. Both the security forces and the Maoist insurgents used schools as bases during the fighting, hundreds of schools were destroyed, strikes and closures kept school doors shut for long periods of time, teachers were threatened, and thousands of young students were forcefully recruited into insurgent forces.

In the spring of 2006, when fighting in Nepal was still at its fiercest, KIOS gave PPCC a grant of 31 800 euros, which was channeled to the network through one of its member organizations, HimRights. With KIOS assistance, all PPCC member organizations were given extensive training on advocacy and promoting the right to education, and PPCC developed a network database, to which all verified rights violations were recorded. During the KIOS-funded one-year project, PPCC expanded its activities to five new districts, and registered 263 rights violation cases, which concerned altogether 200 000 children. Networking with other actors made it possible for PPCC’s member organizations to multiply the impact of their work. The information on rights violations that PPCC collected was forwarded to international rights monitoring mechanisms, and was put to use as an advocacy tool at the highest national and international levels.

In November 2006, a peace agreement was signed in Nepal between the government and the Maoist insurgents. There is a continued need for PPCC’s work, however, as child rights violations are still frequently reported. Also, many of the cases reported during the armed conflict are still unresolved. The network is going to increasingly take violations of the right to education forward in Nepalese courts. In 2007, PPCC received a KIOS grant of 63 300 euros for a new two-year project, during which the network’s activities will be further developed and extended to new areas in Nepal.