ICRC databases on international humanitarian law
  • Print page

    Declaration made upon signature and confirmed upon ratification:

    "The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland will take all feasible measures to ensure that members of its armed forces who have not attained the age of 18 years do not take a direct part in hostilities.

    The United Kingdom understands that article 1 of the Optional Protocol would not exclude the deployment of members of its armed forces under the age of 18 to take a direct part in hostilities where: -

    a) there is a genuine military need to deploy their unit or ship to an area in which hostilities are taking place; and

    b) by reason of the nature and urgency of the situation:-

    i) it is not practicable to withdraw such persons before deployment; or

    ii) to do so would undermine the operational effectiveness of their ship or unit, and thereby put at risk the successful completion of the military mission and/or the safety of other personnel."

    Upon ratification:

    Declaration:

    ".....in accordance with Article 3, paragraph 2, of the Optional Protocol:

    - The minimum age at which individuals may join the UK Armed Forces is 16 years. This minimum broadly reflects the minimum statutory school leaving age in the United Kingdom, that is the age at which young persons may first be permitted to cease full-time education and enter the full-time employment market. Parental consent is required in all cases of recruitment under the age of 18 years.

    The United Kingdom maintains the following safeguards in respect of voluntary recruitment into the armed forces:

    1. The United Kingdom Armed Forces are manned solely by volunteers; there is no compulsory recruitment.

    2. A declaration of age, backed by an authoritative, objective proof (typically the production of an authentic birth certificate) is an integral and early requirement in the recruitment process. Should an individual volunteering to enter the United Kingdom Armed Forces be found either by their own declaration or by inspection of supporting evidence of age to be under 18 years of age, special procedures are adopted. These procedures include:

    - the involvement of the parent(s) or legal guardian(s) of the potential recruits:

    - clear and precise explanation of the nature of duties involved in military service to the both the individual and their parent(s)/guardian(s); and

    - as well as explaining the demands of military life to the individual volunteer and establishing that he/she remains a genuine volunteer, the requirement that the parent(s) or guardian(s), having been similarly informed, freely consent to the individual's entry into the Armed Forces and duly countersign the appropriate application or other appropriate recruitment process forms.

    *****

    Declaration of territorial application made on 29.04.2014 (Original: English):

    “… the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland wishes the United Kingdom's Ratification of [the Optional Protocol] be extended to the territory of the Bailiwick of Jersey for whose international relations the United Kingdom is responsible.

    The Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland considers the extension of [the Optional Protocol] to the Bailiwick of Jersey to enter into force on the date of receipt of this notification by [the Secretary-General] for deposit…”
07.09.2000

24.06.2003

24.06.2003, 29.04.2014