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Implementation guidance for protecting higher education from attack

We ask your help on a project that aims to increase global attention to the problem of attacks on higher education. Specifically, we would ask if you would be willing to speak with the project researcher about the situation in your country and any measures to protect higher education personnel and institutions there, or recommendations of any such measures which have not yet been tried. More information on the project and the interviews follows. (Although the project does not ask for personal information and does not pose any risk, communication with the researcher will be confidential.)

If you would be willing to speak with the researcher please write to her at Cristal Downing,

Many thanks


Project summary: 

Implementation guidance for protecting higher education from attack

The Principles

The Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack (GCPEA) was formed in 2010 by organizations working in the fields of education in emergencies and conflict-affected contexts, higher education, and human rights who were concerned about ongoing attacks on educational institutions, their students, and staff in countries affected by conflict and insecurity.

In early 2015, GCPEA’s Higher Education Working Group developed the Principles of State Responsibility to Protect Higher Education from Attack to highlight existing international norms that oblige states to protect higher education from violent and coercive attacks. The Magna Charta Observatory publically expressed its support for these Principles as they contribute to both highlighting the issue of attacks on higher education around the world, and encourage states to commit to preventing and mitigating such attacks. The Principles articulate four specific obligations of States in this area:

  • Abstain from direct or complicit involvement in attacks on higher education
  • Protect higher education against present and future attacks
  • Assist victims of attacks
  • Deter future attacks, including by investigating attacks and holding perpetrators accountable

The Implementation Guide

GCPEA’s Higher Education Working Group is now developing an implementation guide to encourage States to apply the Principles and thereby more effectively protect higher education from attack. The guide aims to include descriptions of various measures which can be applied under each of the four principles, based on the experience of higher education personnel from a range of countries.  Where possible, the guide may include examples of positive cases in which States have implemented such measures to the benefit of higher education communities.


GCPEA’s Higher Education Working Group is conducting interviews with members of the higher education community in countries around the world to gain information about the measures that have been implemented in their domestic contexts and thereby compile case examples. Interviews generally are conducted over Skype or similar and take approximately 30 minutes. Interview subjects and information provided will be maintained as confidential to the fullest extent possible. Interview subjects will not be named in any public materials without their express consent in advance. 

If you are willing to participate in an interview, or alternatively if you prefer to send written information to answer a series of brief questions, please let the coalition know by contacting Cristal Downing, Please indicate your preferred availability for an interview in February 2016, and your contact information.

Many thanks in advance for your input for this project, which we hope will strengthen the protection of higher education in countries around the world.

Published on 11 February 2016