The Abidjan Principles

The Abidjan Principles are the guiding principles on the human rights obligations of States to provide public education and to regulate private involvement in education. The Principles are a reference point for governments, educators and education providers when debating the respective roles and duties of states and private actors in education.

They compile and unpack existing legal obligations that States have regarding the delivery of education, and in particular the role and limitations of private actors in the provision of education. They provide more details about what international human rights law means by drawing from other sources of law and existing authoritative interpretations.

Protecting the Right to Education

The Ten Overarching Principles


States must respect, protect, and fulfil the right to education of everyone within their jurisdiction in accordance with the rights to equality and non-discrimination.


States must provide free, public education of the highest attainable quality to everyone within their jurisdiction as effectively and expeditiously as possible, to the maximum of their available resources.


States must respect the liberty of parents or legal guardians to choose for their children an educational institution other than a public educational institution, and the liberty of individuals and bodies to establish and direct private educational institutions, subject always to the requirement that such private educational institutions conform to standards established by the State in accordance with its obligations under international human rights law.


States must take all effective measures, including particularly the adoption and enforcement of effective regulatory measures, to ensure the realisation of the right to education where private actors are involved in the provision of education.


States must prioritise the funding and provision of free, quality, public education, and may only fund eligible private instructional educational institutions, whether directly or indirectly, including through tax deductions, of land concessions, international assistance and cooperation, or other forms of indirect support, if they comply with applicable human rights law and standards and strictly observe all substantive, procedural, and operational requirements.


International assistance and cooperation, where provided, must reinforce the building of free, quality, public education systems, and refrain from supporting, directly or indirectly, private educational institutions in a manner that is inconsistent with human rights.


States must put in place adequate mechanisms to ensure they are accountable for their obligations to respect, protect, and fulfil the right to education, including their obligations in the context of the involvement of private actors in education.


States must regularly monitor compliance of public and private institutions with the right to education and ensure all public policies and practices related to this right comply with human rights principles.


States must ensure access to an effective remedy for violations of the right to education and for any human rights abuses by a private actor involved in education.


States should guarantee the effective implementation of these Guiding Principles by all appropriate means, including where necessary by adopting and enforcing the required legal and budgetary reforms.


*The 10 Overarching Principles were adopted in conjunction with 97 Guiding Principles.

Read the Abidjan Principles

Access to the official document.

Learn more:

Abidjan Principles Official Website

Find materials, translations and more information regarding the Abidjan Principles.

Realizing the Abidjan Principles on the Right to Education: Human Rights, Public Education, and the Role of Private Actors in Education

This book compiles 10 chapters that informed the development of the Abidjan Principles. It mixes cutting-edge legal and social research papers, providing a multidisciplinary analysis on some of the most critical issues in contemporary education discussions, from public-private partnerships to the right to public education. The book also provides an insight into the richness of the reflections that led to the adoption of the Abidjan Principles by 57 experts in February 2019, a text that quickly became the reference legal text on the right to education. These papers are edited by Frank Adamson, Sylvain Aubry, Mireille de Koning and Delphine Dorsi, and published by Edward Elgar Publishing in NORRAG’s series on International Education and Development. The book is available for free online, in open access.