The Abidjan Principles

Guidance on public education as a human right

On 12-13 February 2019, the Abidjan Principles were adopted, which define the human rights obligations of States to provide public education and to regulate private involvement in education.

The Principles compile and interpret existing human rights law and standards to provide guidance on how to put them into practice, particularly in the context of a rapid expansion of private sector involvement in education. By providing a rigorous legal framework detailing States’ existing legal binding obligations, they will help to ensure that the right to education is at the center of discussions on education policies.

Founded on a clear reassertion of State obligations to establish free, quality public education systems for all, the Abidjan Principles offer guidance on the State’s obligation to:

• Provide free, public education of the highest attainable quality

• Regulate private involvement

• Fund quality public education.

In an ever more complex world, the Abidjan Principles offer robust reference points of enormous value both for States striving to comply with their obligations under the right to education and for those who wish to hold States accountable for doing so.

After three years of consultations and documentation, a committee of nine eminent experts led the drafting process and incorporated the comments from the consultations, with input from other experts. Over 50 other recognized experts, a majority of them from the Global South, advised on the text and signed it. Human rights experts from around the world came together in Côte d’Ivoire to discuss and finalize the text of the Abidjan Principles.

In July 2019, the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) adopted a new resolution on the right to education, which firmly recognized the Abidjan Principles.

The Principles, with commentary and key resources, are available in full in the adoption languages of English and French at: