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Standing up for Malala – UN expert urges States to stand up for the right to education, especially for girls

PARIS / GENEVA (12 December 2012) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to education, Kishore Singh, called on governments worldwide to respect and fulfill their responsibility to protect and promote the right to education, particularly for girls, and underlined the key importance of safeguarding effectively the fundamental right to education of women and girls who have been victims of social injustice and educational deprivation.

“The tragic but hopeful story of Malala Yousefzai tells us of how far we still have to go before all girls can go to school without fear,” said Mr. Singh after taking part in the in the high-level advocacy event ‘Stand up for Malala - Girls’ Education is a Right’ organized by UNESCO in cooperation with Pakistan to mark Human Rights Day. “Malala, who was shot by the Pakistani Taliban in an attempt to prevent her from attending school, has become a rallying cry for the world to fight for girls’ education rights.”

The UN independent expert recalled that all 193 UN member states have signed up to the UN Millennium Development Goals, and have agreed to achieve universal primary education and gender equality by 2015. “However,” he stressed, “many of them need to modernize legislation that empowers parents and children to demand that right when it is being denied.”

“We must move beyond slogans and ensure that the fundamental human right to education is enshrined in law, and fully implemented,” Mr. Singh noted. “National mechanisms of justiciability are needed to allow citizens to ensure they have safe and secure access to schools with qualified teachers, regardless of their religious or economic circumstances.”

The Special Rapporteur also called on States to ensure that their citizens are made well aware of their right to education. “Rights without a remedy are not rights at all,” emphasized Mr. Singh. “Governments must ensure their national legislation provides a binding recourse to courts or national human rights institutions to allow all those who are entitled to receive an education to fight for their rights when they are being denied.”

“I would like to join with UNESCO, the Government of Pakistan and others to denounce those who threaten violence against girls seeking an education, and I call upon all governments to take the necessary steps to ensure that all children in their countries – boys and girls alike -have a right under law to receive an education” Mr. Singh said.

Kishore Singh (India), the Special Rapporteur on the right to education since August 2010, is a professor specialized in international law who has worked for many years with UNESCO for the promotion of the right to education, and advised a number of international, regional and national bodies on right to education issues. Throughout his career, Mr. Singh has supported the development of the right to education in its various dimensions and worked to promote better understanding of this right as an internationally recognized right. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Education/SREducation/Pages/SREducationIndex.aspx

UN Human Rights, country page – Pakistan: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/AsiaRegion/Pages/PKIndex.aspx

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