Global Health Academy

Children In Conflict

Children across the world are experiencing extreme violence and brutality. Our Children in Conflict Group works to advance the Sustainable Development Goals specifically in relation to children who are living in situations of conflict.

More children are living in situations of conflict than at any time in history.

The United Nations have identified and condemned six grave violations affecting children the most in times of war and conflict:

  • Killing and maiming
  • Recruitment and use of children in conflict
  • Sexual violence
  • Child abduction
  • Denial of humanitarian access and assistance
  • Attacks on schools and hospitals.

About our Children in Conflict Group

Led by the Global Health Academy, our Children in Conflict Group at the University of Edinburgh is focused on advancing the Sustainable Development Goals for children in conflict situations. We work with partners across the University consolidating our collective expertise in children’s wellbeing and livelihood, and with national and global partners committed to a safe, secure future for all children.

Scope of work

Within the University, we bring together alumni, students and faculty committed to better understand the experiences of children in different types of conflict.

We conduct research and draw together evidence of children’s needs and the ways in which systems are impacting on their development.

We work on projects focussed both on the impact of conflict on children during armed conflict* - including the years that follow, when the resulting instability continues – and in countries where instability and turmoil raise the risk of future armed conflict.  

Our group is currently engaged in a project monitoring access to education (SDG4) in Afghanistan (see more below). Our future plans include expanding this to other countries, to children’s rights impacting other SDGs, and to addressing the impact of climate change on children in conflict.

*The Uppsala Conflict Data defines armed conflict as “a conflict that is a contested incompatibility that concerns government and/or territory where the use of armed force between two parties, of which at least one is the government of a state, results in at least 25 battle-related deaths in one calendar year”.

Research and Resources

Working across the University and with diverse external partners, we advance research and develop resources that span multiple themes yet maintains the common goal of bringing progress to children in conflict. Some contributions are noted below:

Focus on Afghanistan

Afghanistan is experiencing significant changes following the establishment of a new national government. Education – in all forms – inevitably changes as administrations change.

Our Children in Conflict Group has established a project that is focused on understanding and monitoring these changes in the forthcoming years, with a focus on access to education and on girls’ education.

The Path to 2030: Achieving the SDGs for children living in conflict [Resource]

Almost 20% of the world’s children live in conflict zones. The challenge of meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030 is a clear challenge for the whole world, but for those living in conflict zones, the challenge is even greater. Identifying how to achieve the SDG’s is key to meeting the 2030 target date.

This resource is being developed to help us act strategically and achieve a brighter and more peaceful future for these children. It shows the impact, progress and change needed in relation to each of the SDGs for children living in conflict, and maps the path forward for achieving them.

Protecting Children in Armed Conflict Report [Resource]

This report calls for a single international legal mechanism to protect children in conflict, addressing both International humanitarian law and International human rights law.

Led by Shaheed Fatima QC of Blackstone Chambers the report has been produced by Theirworld, Save the Children and the Global Health Academy. It is an executive summary of a longer legal report, which was part of the Inquiry on ‘Protecting Children in Armed Conflict’ set up by Gordon Brown, the former UK Prime Minister and one of our alumni.  

To learn more and download the resource, visit 'Protecting Children in Armed Conflict Report' page.


This work is highly collaborative. Externally we work closely with:

We work with colleagues across the University, including: