syrian girl destroyed school AMER ALMOHIBANY/AFP/Getty Images

The World Has Failed Children in Conflict Zones

Though Human Rights Day this year marks the 70th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it is hardly a happy occasion. Around the world, children in conflict zones are increasingly coming under fire because those charged with upholding international law have turned their backs on it.

LONDON – This Human Rights Day (December 10) marks the 70th anniversary of the United Nations General Assembly’s adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Sadly, events over the past few years show that the world is failing to uphold the commitments enshrined in that document, particularly when it comes to protecting children.

For example, in separatist-controlled parts of Eastern Ukraine, where more than 200,000 children are receiving their education in militarized areas, bullets have struck kindergarten windows. In April, the Afghan air force, backed by US-led NATO coalition advisers, reportedly killed 36 students, teachers, and parents, and wounded 71 others, at a graduation ceremony. And in August, the Saudi-led coalition that has been waging war against Houthi rebels in Yemen dropped a bomb on a school bus, killing 40 boys between the ages of six and 11.

It is not hard to find many more horrifying examples of how children have come under threat in educational settings where they should be safest. When the international community adopted the Universal Declaration, it had just experienced a terrifying world war in which such atrocities were numerous. At the time, world leaders were determined to build a fairer, more harmonious global order that would ensure basic protections for all.

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