Practice Relating to Rule 136. Recruitment of Child Soldiers
Note: For practice concerning the rehabilitation and reintegration of former child soldiers, see Rule 135, Section E.
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Geneva Convention IV
Article 50, second paragraph, of the 1949 Geneva Convention IV, provides that the occupying power may not enlist children “in formations or organizations subordinate to it”. 
Convention (IV) relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, Geneva, 12 August 1949, Article 50, second para.

Additional Protocol I
Article 77(2) of the 1977 Additional Protocol I provides:
The Parties to the conflict shall take all feasible measures in order that children who have not attained the age of fifteen years do not take a direct part in hostilities and, in particular, they shall refrain from recruiting them into their armed forces. In recruiting among those persons who have attained the age of fifteen years but who have not attained the age of eighteen years, the Parties to the conflict shall endeavour to give priority to those who are oldest. 
Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts (Protocol I), Geneva, 8 June 1977, Article 77(2). Article 77 was adopted by consensus. CDDH, Official Records, Vol. VI, CDDH/SR.43, 27 May 1977, p. 251.

Additional Protocol II
Article 4(3)(c) of the 1977 Additional Protocol II provides: “Children who have not attained the age of fifteen years shall neither be recruited in the armed forces or groups nor allowed to take part in hostilities.” 
Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of Non-International Armed Conflicts (Protocol II), Geneva, 8 June 1977, Article 4(3)(c). Article 4 was adopted by consensus. CDDH, Official Records, Vol. VII, CDDH/SR.50, 3 June 1977, p. 90.

Convention on the Rights of the Child
Article 38(3) of the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child provides:
States Parties shall refrain from recruiting any person who has not attained the age of fifteen years into their armed forces. In recruiting among those persons who have attained the age of fifteen years but who have not attained the age of eighteen years, States Parties shall endeavour to give priority to those who are oldest. 
Convention on the Rights of the Child, adopted by the UN General Assembly, Res. 44/25, 20 November 1989, Article 38(3).

African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child
Article 22(2) of the 1990 African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child provides that “States Parties to the present Charter shall … refrain, in particular, from recruiting any child”. 
African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, adopted by the Sixteenth Ordinary Session of the OAU Assembly of Heads of State and Government, Res. 197 (XVI), Monrovia, 17–20 July 1990, OAU Doc. CAB/LEG/24.9/49 (1990), Article 22(2).

International Criminal Court
Under Article 8(2)(b)(xxvi) and (e)(vii) of the 1998 ICC Statute, “conscripting or enlisting children under the age of fifteen years” into armed forces or groups constitutes a war crime in both international and non-international armed conflicts. 
Statute of the International Criminal Court, adopted by the UN Diplomatic Conference of Plenipotentiaries on the Establishment of an International Criminal Court, Rome, 17 July 1998, UN Doc. A/CONF.183/9, Article 8(2)(b)(xxvi) and (e)(vii).

Convention on the Worst Forms of Child Labour
Article 1 of the 1999 Convention on the Worst Forms of Child Labour states that each State party “shall take immediate and effective measures to secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour as a matter of urgency”. Article 3(a) lists “forced or compulsory recruitment of children [under 18] for use in armed conflict” as one of the worst forms of child labour. 
Convention concerning the Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour, ILO Convention No. 182, adopted by the ILO General Conference, Geneva, 17 June 1999, Articles 1 and 3(a).

Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict
The 2000 Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict provides:
Article 2: States Parties shall ensure that persons who have not attained the age of 18 years are not compulsorily recruited into their armed forces.
Article 3:
1. States Parties shall raise the minimum age for the voluntary recruitment of persons into their national armed forces from that set out in article 38, paragraph 3, of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, taking account of the principles contained in that article and recognizing that under the Convention persons under the age of 18 years are entitled to special protection.
2. Each State Party shall deposit a binding declaration upon ratification of or accession to the present Protocol that sets forth the minimum age at which it will permit voluntary recruitment into its national armed forces and a description of the safeguards it has adopted to ensure that such recruitment is not forced or coerced.
3. States Parties that permit voluntary recruitment into their national armed forces under the age of 18 years shall maintain safeguards to ensure, as a minimum, that:
(a) Such recruitment is genuinely voluntary;
(b) Such recruitment is carried out with the informed consent of the person’s parents or legal guardians;
(c) Such persons are fully informed of the duties involved in such military service;
(d) Such persons provide reliable proof of age prior to acceptance into national military service …
5. The requirement to raise the age in paragraph 1 of the present article does not apply to schools operated by or under the control of the armed forces of the States Parties, in keeping with articles 28 and 29 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Article 4:
1. Armed groups that are distinct from the armed forces of a State should not, under any circumstances, recruit … persons under the age of 18 years.
2. States Parties shall take all feasible measures to prevent such recruitment … including the adoption of legal measures necessary to prohibit and criminalize such practices …
Article 6:

3. States Parties shall take all feasible measures to ensure that persons within their jurisdiction recruited or used in hostilities contrary to the present Protocol are demobilized or otherwise released from service. States Parties shall, when necessary, accord to such persons all appropriate assistance for their physical and psychological recovery and their social reintegration …
Article 7:
1. States Parties shall cooperate in the implementation of the present Protocol, including in the prevention of any activity contrary thereto and in the rehabilitation and social reintegration of persons who are victims of acts contrary thereto, including through technical cooperation and financial assistance. Such assistance and cooperation will be undertaken in consultation with the States Parties concerned and the relevant international organizations. 
Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, adopted by the UN General Assembly, Res. 54/263, 25 May 2000, Annex I, Articles 2–4, 6(3) and 7.

Statute of the Special Court for Sierra Leone
Article 4 of the 2002 Statute of the Special Court for Sierra Leone provides: “The Special Court shall have the power to prosecute persons who committed the following serious violations of international humanitarian law: … conscripting or enlisting children under the age of 15 years into armed forces or groups”. 
Statute of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, annexed to the 2002 Agreement on the Special Court for Sierra Leone, Freetown, 16 January 2002, annexed to Letter dated 6 March 2002 from the UN Secretary-General to the President of the UN Security Council, UN Doc. S/2002/246, 8 March 2002, p. 29, Article 4.

Kampala Convention
Article 9(1) of the African Union’s Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa (2009) states:
State Parties shall protect the rights of internally displaced persons regardless of the cause of displacement by refraining from, and preventing, the following acts, amongst others:
d. … recruitment of children. 
African Union Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa, adopted in Kampala, Uganda, 23 October 2009, Article 9(1)(d).

A corresponding obligation for members of armed groups, defined as “dissident armed forces or other organized armed groups that are distinct from the armed forces of the state”, can be found in Article 7(5) of the Convention: “Members of armed groups shall be prohibited from: … e. Recruiting children …”. 
African Union Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa, adopted in Kampala, Uganda, 23 October 2009, Article 7(5)(e).

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Memorandum of Understanding on the Application of IHL between Croatia and the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
Paragraph 4 of the 1991 Memorandum of Understanding on the Application of IHL between Croatia and the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia requires that all civilians be treated in accordance with Article 77(1) of the 1977 Additional Protocol I. 
Memorandum of Understanding on the Application of International Humanitarian Law between Croatia and the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Geneva, 27 November 1991, § 4.

Agreement on the Application of IHL between the Parties to the Conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Paragraph 2.3 of the 1992 Agreement on the Application of IHL between the Parties to the Conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina requires that all civilians be treated in accordance with Article 77(1) of the 1977 Additional Protocol I. 
Agreement between Representatives of Mr. Alija Izetbegović (President of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina and President of the Party of Democratic Action), Representatives of Mr. Radovan Karadžić (President of the Serbian Democratic Party), and Representative of Mr. Miljenko Brkić (President of the Croatian Democratic Community), Geneva, 22 May 1992, § 2.3.

Protocol of Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Rwanda and the Rwandese Patriotic Front on the Integration of the Armed Forces
The 1993 Protocol of Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Rwanda and the Rwandese Patriotic Front on the Integration of the Armed Forces provides:
Article 73: Criteria for the Selection of Servicemen in the National Army
The selection of servicemen to constitute the National Army by each party and those to be demobilized shall be carried out in the Assembly points. Servicemen to constitute the National Army should meet the following criteria:
1. Officers
They should:

- be at least 21 years of age.
2. Non-Commissioned Officers
They should:

- be at least 18 years old.
3. Troops
They should:

- be at least 18 years old.
For all 3 categories of servicemen, a cross-check shall be made out in case of any doubt concerning personal particulars, as per criteria spelled out above. 
Protocol of Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Rwanda and the Rwandese Patriotic Front on the integration of Armed Forces of the two parties, signed at Arusha on 3rd August, 1993, Article 73, as annexed to the Arusha Peace Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Rwanda and the Rwandese Patriotic Front, Arusha, 4 August 1993.

UNTAET Regulation No. 2000/15
The UNTAET Regulation No. 2000/15 establishes panels with exclusive jurisdiction over serious criminal offences, including war crimes. According to Section 6(1)(b)(xxvi) and (e)(vii), “[c]onscripting or enlisting children under the age of fifteen years” into armed forces or groups constitutes a war crime in both international and non-international armed conflicts. 
Regulation on the Establishment of Panels with Exclusive Jurisdiction over Serious Criminal Offences, UN Doc. UNTAET/REG/2000/15, Dili, 6 June 2000, Section 6(1)(b)(xxvi) and (e)(vii).

N’Djamena Declaration on Ending Recruitment and Use of Children by Armed Forces and Groups
In June 2010, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, Nigeria, Niger and Sudan adopted the N’Djamena Declaration. In its preamble, the participating States reiterated their “concern regarding the precarious situation of children affected by conflict and the consistent presence of children within armed forces and groups in [their] region” and recalled
[t]he Additional Protocols to the four Geneva Conventions of 1949 prohibiting the recruitment of children who have not attained the age of 15 years in armed conflicts;
[t]he Convention on the Rights of the Child of 1989 prohibiting recruitment … of children under 15 … establishing the legal age of recruitment … of children … at 18 … ;

[UN] Security Council resolutions… and [resolutions] of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union that condemned the recruitment … of children in armed conflict, and called to end it … ;

[t]he 1997 Cape Town Principles and Best Practices on the Recruitment of Children into Armed Forces and on Demobilization and Social Reintegration of Children in Africa. 
N’Djamena Declaration adopted at the Regional Conference on Ending Recruitment and Use of Children by Armed Forces and Groups: Contributing to Peace, Justice and Development, signed by Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, Nigeria, Niger and Sudan, N’Djamena, 7–9 June 2010, Preamble.

The participating States also recognized that
States have the primary responsibility of ensuring, without discrimination, the security and protection of all children living on their national territory, and that no territory should be used in any form for recruitment of children by armed forces or groups. 
N’Djamena Declaration adopted at the Regional Conference on Ending Recruitment and Use of Children by Armed Forces and Groups: Contributing to Peace, Justice and Development, signed by Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, Nigeria, Niger and Sudan, N’Djamena, 7–9 June 2010, Preamble.

The participating States also pledged
1. To put an end to all forms of recruitment … of children by armed forces and armed groups and … prevent all kinds of recruitment … of children in all situations;
2. To harmonize national legislations with regional and international instruments in order to prohibit the recruitment … of children by armed forces and armed groups, and prosecute perpetrators before competent courts.

5. To facilitate access of international humanitarian organisations protecting children to locations where children involved in armed conflict are gathered, as well as their work in identification, release and unconditional withdrawal of girls and boys associated with armed forces and groups consistent with national, regional and international instruments. 
N’Djamena Declaration adopted at the Regional Conference on Ending Recruitment and Use of Children by Armed Forces and Groups: Contributing to Peace, Justice and Development, signed by Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, Nigeria, Niger and Sudan, N’Djamena, 7–9 June 2010, §§ 1–2 and 5.

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Argentina
Argentina’s Law of War Manual (1989) provides, with respect to non-international armed conflicts in particular: “Children under the age of 15 shall not be recruited in the armed forces.” 
Argentina, Leyes de Guerra, PC-08-01, Público, Edición 1989, Estado Mayor Conjunto de las Fuerzas Armadas, aprobado por Resolución No. 489/89 del Ministerio de Defensa, 23 April 1990, § 7.04.

Australia
Australia’s Defence Instructions (General) (2005) states: “[T]he ADF [Australian Defence Force] will continue to observe a minimum voluntary recruitment age of 17 years. The exception to this rule is entrants to military schools, apprentices and members of Service cadet schemes.” 
Australia, Defence Instructions (General) PERS 33-4, Recruitment and employment of members under 18 years in the Australian Defence Force, Department of Defence, Canberra, 4 July 2005, § 4.

The Defence Instructions further states that “[t]he recruitment of all minors must be genuinely voluntary”. 
Australia, Defence Instructions (General) PERS 33-4, Recruitment and employment of members under 18 years in the Australian Defence Force, Department of Defence, Canberra, 4 July 2005, § 8.

Australia’s LOAC Manual (2006) states:
There is a minimum voluntary recruitment age of 17 years, the exception being for entrants to military schools, apprentices and members of Service cadet schemes. All feasible measures are to be taken to ensure minors are not deployed to an area of operations. 
Australia, The Manual of the Law of Armed Conflict, Australian Defence Doctrine Publication 06.4, Australian Defence Headquarters, 11 May 2006, § 9.51.

The LOAC Manual (2006) replaces both the Defence Force Manual (1994) and the Commanders’ Guide (1994).
Australia’s Defence Instructions (General) (2008) states:
Consistent with Article 3 of the Protocol [2000 Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict], which allows for the recruitment of persons less than 18 years of age, the minimum age for recruitment into the ADF [Australian Defence Force] is 17 years of age. In addition, the recruitment of minors into the ADF must take into account the following obligations:
a. the recruitment of the minor must be genuinely voluntary – minors must not be compulsorily recruited into the ADF. 
Australia, Defence Instructions (General) PERS 33-4, Management and administration of Australian Defence Force members under 18 years of age, Department of Defence, Canberra, 22 April 2008, § 14.

In the list of definitions provided with these Instructions, a “minor” is defined as “a person under the age of 18 years”. 
Australia, Defence Instructions (General) PERS 33-4, Management and administration of Australian Defence Force members under 18 years of age, Department of Defence, Canberra, 22 April 2008, Annex A.

This edition of Defence Instructions (General) replaces the Defence Instructions (General) (2005).
Cameroon
Cameroon’s Instructor’s Manual (1992) states that children under the age of 15 “should not be recruited into the armed forces”. 
Cameroon, Droit international humanitaire et droit de la guerre, Manuel de l’instructeur en vigueur dans les Forces Armées, Présidence de la République, Ministère de la Défense, Etat-major des Armées, Troisième Division, Edition 1992, p. 15, § 15.

Cameroon’s Instructor’s Manual (2006) states: “Parties to the conflict are obliged not to engage children under the age of fifteen in direct participation in hostilities and, in particular, not to recruit them into the armed forces.” 
Cameroon, Droit des conflits armés et droit international humanitaire, Manuel de l’instructeur en vigueur dans les forces de défense, Ministère de la Défense, Présidence de la République, Etat-major des Armées, 2006, p. 29, § 131; see also p. 49, § 213 and p. 75, § 321.

Canada
Canada’s LOAC Manual (1999) provides, with respect to non-international armed conflicts in particular: “Children are to receive such aid and protection as required including: … a ban on their enlistment … while under the age of fifteen”. 
Canada, The Law of Armed Conflict at the Operational and Tactical Level, Office of the Judge Advocate General, 1999, p. 17-3, § 22.

Canada’s LOAC Manual (2001) states in its chapter on non-international armed conflicts: “[The 1977 Additional Protocol II] provides that children are to receive such aid and protection as required including: … c. a ban on their enlistment or participation in the hostilities while under the age of fifteen.” 
Canada, The Law of Armed Conflict at the Operational and Tactical Levels, Office of the Judge Advocate General, 13 August 2001, § 1714.1.c.

Chad
Chad’s Instructor’s Manual (2006) states: “The parties to the conflict may not recruit children who are under 15 years of age to take a direct part in hostilities, particularly by refraining from recruiting them into the armed forces.” 
Chad, Droit international humanitaire, Manuel de l’instructeur en vigueur dans les forces armées et de sécurité, Ministère de la Défense, Présidence de la République, Etat-major des Armées, 2006, p. 53; see also 34.

Colombia
Colombia’s Basic Military Manual (1995) provides, with respect to non-international armed conflicts in particular, that it is prohibited to “recruit and allow direct participation in hostilities of children under the age of 15”. 
Colombia, Derecho Internacional Humanitario – Manual Básico para las Personerías y las Fuerzas Armadas de Colombia, Ministerio de Defensa Nacional, 1995, p. 75.

Côte d’Ivoire
Côte d’Ivoire’s Teaching Manual (2007) provides in Book III, Volume 2 (Instruction of second-year trainee officers):
I.1.3. Children
By “child”, one generally means any person who has not attained the age of 18 years. However, in the law of armed conflicts, different provisions apply to children of less than 15 years and to those between 15 and 18 years.
Additional Protocol I specifies that children have the right to the care and aid they require because of their age. Children who have not attained the age of 15 years must not be recruited into the armed forces, nor directly participate in hostilities. 
Côte d’Ivoire, Droit de la guerre, Manuel d’instruction, Livre III, Tome 2: Instruction de l’élève officier d’active de 2ème année, Manuel de l’instructeur, Ministère de la Défense, Forces Armées Nationales, November 2007, p. 22; see also Droit de la guerre, Manuel d’instruction, Livre IV: Instruction du chef de section et du commandant de compagnie, Manuel de l’élève, Ministère de la Défense, Forces Armées Nationales, November 2007, p. 32.

Djibouti
Djibouti’s Manual on International Humanitarian Law (2004) states that “children below the age of fifteen … may not be recruited into the armed forces”. 
Djibouti, Manuel sur le droit international humanitaire et les droits de l’homme applicables au travail du policier, Ministère de l’Intérieur, Direction Générale de la Police, 2004, p. 25.

France
France’s LOAC Manual (2001) provides: “It is prohibited to recruit persons under 15 into the armed forces.” 
France, Manuel de droit des conflits armés, Ministère de la Défense, Direction des Affaires Juridiques, Sous-Direction du droit international humanitaire et du droit européen, Bureau du droit des conflits armés, 2001, p. 40.

The manual considers such recruitment “a war crime”. 
France, Manuel de droit des conflits armés, Ministère de la Défense, Direction des Affaires Juridiques, Sous-Direction du droit international humanitaire et du droit européen, Bureau du droit des conflits armés, 2001, p. 63.

Germany
Germany’s Military Manual (1992) provides:
The parties to the conflict shall take all feasible measures in order that children who have not attained the age of fifteen years do not take direct part in hostilities and, in particular, they shall refrain from recruiting them into their armed forces. 
Germany, Humanitarian Law in Armed Conflicts – Manual, DSK VV207320067, edited by The Federal Ministry of Defence of the Federal Republic of Germany, VR II 3, August 1992, English translation of ZDv 15/2, Humanitäres Völkerrecht in bewaffneten Konflikten – Handbuch, August 1992, § 306.

The manual further states that children under 15 “shall not be enlisted”. 
Germany, Humanitarian Law in Armed Conflicts – Manual, DSK VV207320067, edited by The Federal Ministry of Defence of the Federal Republic of Germany, VR II 3, August 1992, English translation of ZDv 15/2, Humanitäres Völkerrecht in bewaffneten Konflikten – Handbuch, August 1992, § 505.

Kenya
Kenya’s LOAC Manual (1997) states: “Children under the age of 15 shall not be recruited into the armed forces.” 
Kenya, Law of Armed Conflict, Military Basic Course (ORS), 4 Précis, The School of Military Police, 1997, Précis No. 2, p. 8.

Mexico
Mexico’s Army and Air Force Manual (2009), in a section on the 1949 Geneva Convention IV, states that “the occupying power may not, under any circumstances, change … [the] personal status [of children] or enlist them in formations or organizations subordinate to it.” 
Mexico, Manual de Derecho Internacional Humanitario para el Ejército y la Fuerza Área Mexicanos, Ministry of National Defence, June 2009, § 234(B).

Netherlands
The Military Manual (1993) of the Netherlands provides: “Children may not be recruited in armed forces.” 
Netherlands, Toepassing Humanitair Oorlogsrecht, Voorschift No. 27-412/1, Koninklijke Landmacht, Ministerie van Defensie, 1993, p. III-2, § 1.

The Military Manual (2005) of the Netherlands states: “Parties to a conflict should ensure that children under the age of 15 play no direct part in hostilities. Therefore they may not be drafted into the armed forces.” 
Netherlands, Humanitair Oorlogsrecht: Handleiding, Voorschift No. 27-412, Koninklijke Landmacht, Militair Juridische Dienst, 2005, § 0309.

In its chapter on non-international armed conflict, the manual states:
1060. Children must receive the care and help that they need.
1061. This involves … not being called up for service in the armed forces or armed groups, if they are under the age of fifteen. 
Netherlands, Humanitair Oorlogsrecht: Handleiding, Voorschift No. 27-412, Koninklijke Landmacht, Militair Juridische Dienst, 2005, §§ 1060–1061.

New Zealand
New Zealand’s Military Manual (1992) provides, with respect to non-international armed conflicts in particular, that children “are to receive such aid and protection as they require, including … a ban on their enlistment … while under the age of fifteen”. 
New Zealand, Interim Law of Armed Conflict Manual, DM 112, New Zealand Defence Force, Headquarters, Directorate of Legal Services, Wellington, November 1992, § 1813.

Nigeria
Nigeria’s Military Manual (1994) states: “Children under 15 years shall not be recruited.” 
Nigeria, International Humanitarian Law (IHL), Directorate of Legal Services, Nigerian Army, 1994, p. 38, § 4.

Philippines
The Philippine Army Soldier’s Handbook on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (2006) provides:
While not in combat:

4. Do not allow any person below 18 years old to take part in the armed conflict. Children shall be considered as zones of peace and shall enjoy the protection of the State against dangers arising from an armed conflict. Children shall not be recruited or employed by the government forces to perform or engage in activity necessary to and in direct connection with an armed conflict either as a soldier, guide, courier or in a similar capacity which would result in his being identified as an active member of an organized group that is hostile to the government forces. 
Philippines, Philippine Army Soldier’s Handbook on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law, A Practical Guide for Internal Security Operations, 2006, p. 55, § 4.

In its glossary, the Handbook further notes: “Children – refers to persons below 18 years of age or those over but unable to fully take care of themselves or protect themselves from abuse, neglect, cruelty, exploitation or discrimination because of a physical or mental disability or condition.” 
Philippines, Philippine Army Soldier’s Handbook on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law, A Practical Guide for Internal Security Operations, 2006, p. 67, Glossary.

Russian Federation
The Russian Federation’s Regulations on the Application of IHL (2001) states with regard to internal armed conflict: “Children who have not attained the age of fifteen years shall neither be recruited in the armed forces or groups nor allowed to take part in hostilities.” 
Russian Federation, Regulations on the Application of International Humanitarian Law by the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation, Moscow, 8 August 2001, § 81.

Spain
Spain’s LOAC Manual (1996) provides: “All possible means shall be taken, within the limits of military necessity, to avoid recruiting children under 15.” 
Spain, Orientaciones. El Derecho de los Conflictos Armados, Publicación OR7-004, 2 Tomos, aprobado por el Estado Mayor del Ejército, Division de Operaciones, 18 March 1996, Vol. I, § 1.3.c.(1).

Spain’s LOAC Manual (2007) states: “All feasible measures must be taken to prevent the recruitment of children under eighteen years of age. … States are bound to adopt penal legislation to prevent the recruitment and use of children under the age of eighteen in armed conflicts.” 
Spain, Orientaciones. El Derecho de los Conflictos Armados, Tomo 1, Publicación OR7–004, (Edición Segunda), Mando de Adiestramiento y Doctrina, Dirección de Doctrina, Orgánica y Materiales, 2 November 2007, § 1.3.c.(1).

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
The UK LOAC Manual (2004) states in its chapter on the protection of civilians in the hands of a party to the conflict:
Steps must be taken to ensure that those aged under fifteen years are not recruited into the armed forces and do not take a direct part in hostilities. Moreover, where there is recruitment of young persons aged between fifteen and eighteen years, priority is to be given to the oldest. 
United Kingdom, The Manual of the Law of Armed Conflict, Ministry of Defence, 1 July 2004, § 9.9.1.

With regard to internal armed conflict, the manual states:
15.7. It is prohibited to conscript or enlist “children under the age of fifteen years into armed forces or groups” or to use them “to participate actively in hostilities”.
15.7.1. Recent internal conflicts, particularly in West Africa, have been marked by the recruitment, arming and deployment on military missions of children, many of whom have been involved in the commission of atrocities. Such recruitment and use is a war crime under the Rome Statute. 
United Kingdom, The Manual of the Law of Armed Conflict, Ministry of Defence, 1 July 2004, §§ 15.7–15.7.1.

United States of America
The US Field Manual (1956) reproduces Article 50 of the 1949 Geneva Convention IV. 
United States, Field Manual 27-10, The Law of Land Warfare, US Department of the Army, 18 July 1956, as modified by Change No. 1, 15 July 1976, § 383.

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Australia
Australia’s Criminal Code Act (1995), as amended in 2007, states with respect to serious war crimes that are committed in the course of an international armed conflict:
268.68 War crime – using, conscripting or enlisting children
National armed forces

(2) A person (the perpetrator) commits an offence if:
(a) the perpetrator conscripts one or more persons into the national armed forces; and
(b) the person or persons are under the age of 15 years; and
(c) the perpetrator’s conduct takes place in the context of, and is associated with, an international armed conflict.
Penalty: Imprisonment for 15 years.
(3) A person (the perpetrator) commits an offence if:
(a) the perpetrator enlists one or more persons into the national armed forces; and
(b) the person or persons are under the age of 15 years; and
(c) the perpetrator’s conduct takes place in the context of, and is associated with, an international armed conflict.
Penalty: Imprisonment for 10 years.
Other armed forces and groups

(5) A person (the perpetrator) commits an offence if:
(a) the perpetrator conscripts one or more persons into an armed force or group other than the national armed forces; and
(b) the person or persons are under the age of 18 years; and
(c) the perpetrator’s conduct takes place in the context of, and is associated with, an international armed conflict.
Penalty: Imprisonment for 15 years.
(6) A person (the perpetrator) commits an offence if:
(a) the perpetrator enlists one or more persons into an armed force or group other than the national armed forces; and
(b) the person or persons are under the age of 18 years; and
(c) the perpetrator’s conduct takes place in the context of, and is associated with, an international armed conflict.
Penalty for a contravention of this subsection: Imprisonment for 10 years. 
Australia, Criminal Code Act, 1995, as amended on 1 November 2007, taking into account amendments up to Act No. 177 of 2007, Chapter 8, § 268.68, pp. 345–347.

The Criminal Code Act also states with respect to war crimes that are other serious violations of the laws and customs applicable in a non-international armed conflict:
268.88 War crime – using, conscripting or enlisting children
National armed forces

(2) A person (the perpetrator) commits an offence if:
(a) the perpetrator conscripts one or more persons into the national armed forces; and
(b) the person or persons are under the age of 15 years; and
(d) the perpetrator’s conduct takes place in the context of, and is associated with, an armed conflict that is not an international armed conflict.
Penalty: Imprisonment for 15 years.
(3) A person (the perpetrator) commits an offence if:
(a) the perpetrator enlists one or more persons into the national armed forces; and
(b) the person or persons are under the age of 15 years; and
(d) the perpetrator’s conduct takes place in the context of, and is associated with, an armed conflict that is not an international armed conflict.
Penalty: Imprisonment for 10 years.
Other armed forces and groups

(5) A person (the perpetrator) commits an offence if:
(a) the perpetrator conscripts one or more persons into an armed force or group other than the national armed forces; and
(b) the person or persons are under the age of 18 years; and
(c) the perpetrator’s conduct takes place in the context of, and is associated with, an armed conflict that is not an international armed conflict.
Penalty: Imprisonment for 15 years.
(6) A person (the perpetrator) commits an offence if:
(a) the perpetrator enlists one or more persons into an armed force or group other than the national armed forces; and
(b) the person or persons are under the age of 18 years; and
(c) the perpetrator’s conduct takes place in the context of, and is associated with, an armed conflict that is not an international armed conflict.
Penalty for a contravention of this subsection: Imprisonment for 10 years. 
Australia, Criminal Code Act, 1995, as amended on 1 November 2007, taking into account amendments up to Act No. 177 of 2007, Chapter 8, § 268.88, pp. 363–365.

Australia’s ICC (Consequential Amendments) Act (2002) incorporates in the Criminal Code the war crimes defined in the 1998 ICC Statute, including “using, conscripting or enlisting children” in both international and non-international armed conflicts. 
Australia, ICC (Consequential Amendments) Act, 2002, Schedule 1, §§ 268.68 and 268.88.

Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan’s Criminal Code (1999) provides that “recruiting minors into the armed forces” constitutes a war crime. 
Azerbaijan, Criminal Code, 1999, Article 116.0.5.

Bangladesh
Bangladesh’s International Crimes (Tribunal) Act (1973) states that the “violation of any humanitarian rules applicable in armed conflicts laid down in the Geneva Conventions of 1949” is a crime. 
Bangladesh, International Crimes (Tribunal) Act, 1973, Section 3(2)(e).

Belarus
Belarus’s Law on the Rights of the Child (1993) prohibits recruitment into the armed forces under the age of 18. 
Belarus, Law on the Rights of the Child, 1993, Article 29.

Belarus’s Criminal Code (1999) provides that it is a war crime to “recruit into the armed forces children under the age of 15 years”. 
Belarus, Criminal Code, 1999, Article 136(5).

Belgium
Belgium’s Penal Code (1867), as amended in 2003, provides:
War crimes envisaged in the 1949 [Geneva] Conventions … and in the [1977 Additional Protocols I and II] … , as well as in Article 8(2)(f) of the [1998 ICC Statute], and listed below, … constitute crimes under international law and shall be punished in accordance with the provisions of the present title … :

7. conscripting or enlisting children under the age of 15 into armed forces or armed groups. 
Belgium, Penal Code, 1867, as amended on 5 August 2003, Chapter III, Title I bis, Article 136 quater, § 1(7).

Belgium’s Law relating to the Repression of Grave Breaches of International Humanitarian Law (1993), as amended in 2003, provides:
War crimes envisaged in the 1949 [Geneva] Conventions … and in the [1977 Additional Protocols I and II] … , as well as in Article 8(2)(f) of the [1998 ICC Statute], and listed below, … constitute crimes under international law and shall be punished in accordance with the provisions of the present title … :

4 bis. conscripting or enlisting children under the age of 15 into armed forces or armed groups. 
Belgium, Law relating to the Repression of Grave Breaches of International Humanitarian Law, 1993, as amended on 23 April 2003, Article 1 ter, § 1(4 bis).

Burundi
Burundi’s Law on Genocide, Crimes against Humanity and War Crimes (2003) states:
[The following are] considered as war crimes:

B. Other serious violations of the laws and customs applicable in international armed conflicts, within the established framework of international law, namely, any of the following acts:

y) conscripting or enrolling children under the age of fifteen years into the national armed forces …

D. Other serious violations of the laws and customs applicable in armed conflicts not of an international character, within the established framework of international law, namely, any of the following acts:

g) conscripting or enlisting children under the age of fifteen years into the armed forces or into [armed] groups. 
Burundi, Law on Genocide, Crimes against Humanity and War Crimes, 2003, Article 4(B)(y) and (D)(g).

Burundi’s Penal Code (2009) states:
“War crimes” means crimes which are committed as part of a plan or policy or as part of a large-scale commission of such crimes, in particular:

2. … [S]erious violations of the laws and customs applicable in international armed conflict, within the established framework of international law, namely, any of the following acts:

27°. Conscripting or enlisting children under the age of fifteen years into the national armed forces …
5. … [S]erious violations of the laws and customs applicable in armed conflicts not of an international character, within the established framework of international law, namely, any of the following acts:

7o. Conscripting or enlisting children under the age of fifteen years into armed forces or groups. 
Burundi, Penal Code, 2009, Article 198(2)(27°) and (5)(7°).

Canada
Canada’s Crimes against Humanity and War Crimes Act (2000) provides that the war crimes defined in Article 8(2) of the 1998 ICC Statute are “crimes according to customary international law” and, as such, indictable offences under the Act. 
Canada, Crimes against Humanity and War Crimes Act, 2000, Section 4(1) and (4).

Central African Republic
The Central African Republic’s Labour Code (2009) states that “worst forms of child labour include … forced or compulsory labour, including the forced or compulsory recruitment of children in view of their use in armed conflict”. 
Central African Republic, Labour Code, 2009, Article 262.

The Code also states: “The worst forms of child labour are prohibited in the entire Central African Republic.” 
Central African Republic, Labour Code, 2009, Article 263.

The Code further states: “In the present Code, … CHILD [means]: every person under the age of 18”. 
Central African Republic, Labour Code, 2009, Article 3.

Chad
Chad’s Ordinance on the Reorganization of the Armed Forces (1991) states: “Military service is mandatory for every Chadian citizen, except in case of clearly established physical disability.” 
Chad, Ordinance on the Reorganization of the Armed Forces, 1991. Article 11.

The Ordinance adds: “The legal age for incorporation [into the armed forces] is at least twenty full years for professional soldiers and at least eighteen years … for conscripted soldiers.” 
Chad, Ordinance on the Reorganization of the Armed Forces, 1991. Article 14.

Colombia
Colombia’s Law on Judicial Cooperation (1997) states that children under 18 may not be recruited into the armed forces, unless their parents give their consent. A five-year term of
imprisonment is imposed on anyone who recruits children under 18. 
Colombia, Law on Judicial Cooperation, 1997, Articles 13–14.

Colombia’s Penal Code (2000) imposes a criminal sanction on “anyone, who, in period of armed conflict, recruits minors under 18 years of age”. 
Colombia, Penal Code, 2000, Article 162.

Congo
The Congo’s Genocide, War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity Act (1998) defines war crimes with reference to the categories of crimes defined in Article 8 of the 1998 ICC Statute. 
Congo, Genocide, War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity Act, 1998, Article 4.

Croatia
Croatia’s Defence Law (1993) imposes a military service obligation only for persons who are 19 years old in the year when they start their military service. In wartime or in case of direct peril to the independence and integrity of the Republic, the President may impose a military service obligation for persons who are 17 years old. 
Croatia, Defence Law, 1993, Article 98(1) and (5).

Croatia’s Criminal Code (1997), as amended in 2006, states that it is a war crime to “order the recruitment of children under fifteen years of age for the national armed forces”. 
Croatia, Criminal Code, 1997, as amended in June 2006, Article 158(1).

Denmark
Denmark’s Military Criminal Code (1973), as amended in 1978, provides:
Any person who uses war instruments or procedures the application of which violates an international agreement entered into by Denmark or the general rules of international law, shall be liable to the same penalty [i.e. a fine, lenient imprisonment or up to 12 years’ imprisonment]. 
Denmark, Military Criminal Code, 1973, as amended in 1978, § 25(1).

Denmark’s Military Criminal Code (2005) provides:
Any person who deliberately uses war means [“krigsmiddel”] or procedures the application of which violates an international agreement entered into by Denmark or international customary law, shall be liable to the same penalty [i.e. imprisonment up to life imprisonment]. 
Denmark, Military Criminal Code, 2005, § 36(2).

El Salvador
El Salvador’s Military Service Law (1992), as amended in 2008, states:
The present Law [on the obligatory military service] will be applicable to all Salvadorans between the ages of eighteen and thirty, without distinction … , and if necessary to all Salvadorans able to engage in military tasks.
It will also apply to minors between the ages of sixteen and eighteen when they voluntarily request to engage in military service, in accordance with this law. 
El Salvador, Military Service Law, 1992, as amended in 2008, Article 2.

The Law further states:
Salvadorans over the age of sixteen may voluntarily present to the General Direction for Recruitment … a request to provide military service, and the above-mentioned General Direction will accept them in conformity with the needs of the service. 
El Salvador, Military Service Law, 1992, as amended in 2008, Article 6.

Ethiopia
Ethiopia’s Criminal Code (2004) states:
Article 270.- War Crimes against the Civilian Population.
Whoever, in time of war, armed conflict or occupation organizes, orders or engages in, against the civilian population and in violation of the rules of public international law and of international humanitarian conventions:

(m) recruiting children who have not attained the age of eighteen years as members of defence forces to take part in armed conflict …

is punishable with rigorous imprisonment from five years to twenty-five years, or, in more serious cases, with life imprisonment or death. 
Ethiopia, Criminal Code, 2004, Article 270.

Finland
Finland’s Criminal Code (1889), as amended in 2008, provides that any person who “takes or recruits children below the age of 18 years into military forces or into groups in which they are used in hostilities” shall be “sentenced for a war crime to imprisonment for at least one year or for life”. 
Finland, Criminal Code, 1889, as amended in 2008, Chapter 11, Section 5(1)(5).
(emphasis in original)
France
France’s Penal Code (1994), as amended in 2010, states in its section on war crimes common to both international and non-international armed conflicts:
Conscripting or enlisting children under the age of eighteen years into armed forces or armed groups … is punishable by 20 years’ imprisonment. This provision constitutes no obstacle to the voluntary enlistment of children over the age of fifteen years. 
France, Penal Code, 1994, as amended in 2010, Article 461-7.

Georgia
Under Georgia’s Criminal Code (1999), any war crime provided for by the 1998 ICC Statute, which is not explicitly mentioned in the Code, such as “conscripting or enlisting children under the age of fifteen years into the national armed forces” is a crime in both international and non-international armed conflicts. 
Georgia, Criminal Code, 1999, Article 413(d).

Germany
Germany’s Law Introducing the International Crimes Code (2002) punishes anyone who, in connection with an international or non-international armed conflict, “conscripts children under the age of fifteen years into the armed forces, or enlists them in the armed forces or in armed groups”. 
Germany, Law Introducing the International Crimes Code, 2002, Article 1, § 8(1)(5).

Guatemala
Guatemala’s Law on the Protection of Childhood and Adolescence (2003) states under the heading “Right to Protection during Armed Conflict”:
International humanitarian law. In case of armed conflict, boys, girls and adolescents have the right not to be recruited and that the State respects and ensures compliance with the applicable norms of international humanitarian law.
The State shall adopt all possible measures to ensure that persons below the age of eighteen … are not recruited for military service under any circumstances. 
Guatemala, Law on the Protection of Childhood and Adolescence, 2003, Article 57.

Guinea
Guinea’s Children’s Code (2008) states:
No Child under the age of 18 shall … be recruited into the Armed Forces or into an armed group.
Conscripting or enlisting children under the age of 18 into the Armed Forces or an armed group … will be punished with 2 to 5 years’ imprisonment and with a fine of 50,000 to 500,000 Guinean francs or with one of these penalties.
Officials in the public or private sector shall incur aggravated criminal responsibility if they are found guilty of causing serious bodily or mental harm to these children. 
Guinea, Children’s Code, 2008, Article 429.

Iraq
Iraq’s Law of the Supreme Iraqi Criminal Tribunal (2005) identifies “[c]onscripting or enlisting children under the age of fifteen years” as a serious violation of the laws and customs of war applicable in both international and non-international armed conflicts. 
Iraq, Law of the Supreme Iraqi Criminal Tribunal, 2005, Article 13(2)(Z) and (4)(G).

Ireland
Ireland’s Geneva Conventions Act (1962), as amended in 1998, provides that any “minor breach” of the 1949 Geneva Conventions, including violations of Article 50 of the Geneva Convention IV, and of the 1977 Additional Protocol I, including violations of Article 77(2), as well as any “contravention” of the 1977 Additional Protocol II, including violations of Article 4(3)(c), are punishable offences. 
Ireland, Geneva Conventions Act, 1962, as amended in 1998, Section 4(1) and (4).

Jordan
Jordan’s Military Service Law No. 2 (1972) provides that children under 16 years old may not be enlisted in the armed forces. 
Jordan, Military Service Law No. 2, 1972, Chapter 2, Article 5.

Kenya
Kenya’s Children Act (2001) states: “No child shall … be recruited in armed conflicts”. 
Kenya, Children Act, 2001, § 10(2).

Liberia
Liberia’s National Defense Act (2008), in the section entitled Eligibility for Service in the Armed Forces of Liberia, states: “Service in the AFL [Armed Forces of Liberia] shall be open to all qualified citizens of Liberia between the ages of 18 to 35.” 
Liberia, National Defense Act, 2008, Section 7.2.

Libyan Arab Jamahiriya
The Libyan Arab Jamahiriya’s Law No. 40 on Service in the Armed Forces provides that “no one under the age of seventeen years” may serve in the armed forces. 
Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Law No. 40 on Service in the Armed Forces, 1974, Article 6.

Malawi
Malawi’s National Service Act (1951) states that no person under the age of 18 years shall be liable for military service. 
Malawi, National Service Act, 1951, Article 4.

Malaysia
Malaysia’s Armed Forces Act (1972) establishes a minimum age of 18 for anyone to be considered for enrolment or recruitment in the armed forces. Persons below the age of 18 may be appointed as apprentices, but they are not considered as recruits and are therefore not subjected to service law. 
Malaysia, Armed Forces Act, 1972, Section 18.

Mali
Under Mali’s Penal Code (2001), “conscripting or enlisting children under the age of fifteen years into the national armed forces or groups” constitutes a war crime in international armed conflicts. 
Mali, Penal Code, 2001, Article 31(i)(26).

Mozambique
Mozambique’s Law on Military Service (2009) states:
1. All Mozambican citizens between 18 to 35 years of age are under a duty of military service and [to fulfil the] military obligations arising therefrom.
2. In time of war the ages for the fulfilment of military obligations may be altered by law. 
Mozambique, Law on Military Service, 2009, Article 2.

Netherlands
Under the International Crimes Act (2003) of the Netherlands, “conscripting or enlisting children under the age of fifteen years into the national armed forces or armed groups” is a crime, whether committed in an international or a non-international armed conflict. 
Netherlands, International Crimes Act, 2003, Articles 5(5)(r) and 6(3)(f).

New Zealand
Under New Zealand’s International Crimes and ICC Act (2000), war crimes include the crimes defined in Article 8(2)(b)(xxvi) and (e)(vii) of the 1998 ICC Statute. 
New Zealand, International Crimes and ICC Act, 2000, Section 11(2).

Nigeria
Nigeria’s Child Rights Act (2003) states: “No child shall be recruited into any of the branches of the armed forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.” 
Nigeria, Child Rights Act, 2003, Section 34(1).

The Act defines child as “a person under the age of eighteen years”. 
Nigeria, Child Rights Act, 2003, Section 277.

Norway
Norway’s Military Penal Code (1902), as amended in 1981, provides:
Anyone who contravenes or is accessory to the contravention of provisions relating to the protection of persons or property laid down in … the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 … [and in] the two additional protocols to these Conventions … is liable to imprisonment. 
Norway, Military Penal Code, 1902, as amended in 1981, § 108.

Norway’s Penal Code (1902), as amended in 2008, states: “Any person is liable to punishment for a war crime who in connection with an armed conflict … conscripts or enlists children under 18 years of age into armed forces”. 
Norway, Penal Code, 1902, as amended in 2008, § 103(f).

Peru
Peru’s Regulations to the Law on Internal Displacement (2005) states:
Internally displaced persons who return to their places of habitual residence or who have resettled in another part of the country have a right to:

j) Be protected against forced recruitment by armed groups in conflict, particularly the recruitment of displaced children. In no case shall authorities resort to practices that compel compliance or punish non-compliance with recruitment. Internally displaced persons shall not be taken hostage during armed conflicts or situations derived from them. 
Peru, Regulations to the Law on Internal Displacement, 2005, Article 6(j).

Peru’s Code of Military and Police Justice (2006) states:
Any member of the military or police who in the context of an international or non-international armed conflict:

5. Forcefully enlists or recruits into the armed forces or armed groups children under the age of 18 … shall be imprisoned for a period of no less than six and no more than 12 years. 
Peru, Code of Military and Police Justice, 2006, Article 90(5).

This article is no longer in force. Along with certain other articles in this legislation, it was declared unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court (en banc decision for case file No. 0012-2006-PI-TC, 8 January 2007) because it does not stipulate a crime committed in the line of duty that would fall under the jurisdiction of a military court pursuant to Article 173 of Peru’s Constitution.
Peru’s Law on Military Service (2008) states that military service “[i]s undertaken by men and women without any discrimination from the age of eighteen”. 
Peru, Law on Military Service, 2008, Article 2.

The Law further states:
Military service has the objective of … incorporating Peruvians of military age into the institutions of the armed forces in order to prepare them to defend the sovereignty and territorial integrity of their fatherland with the functions assigned to the armed forces by the Political Constitution of Peru and the laws of the Republic. 
Peru, Law on Military Service, 2008, Article 10.

The Law also states: “Forced recruitment, in the form of capturing persons with the objective of incorporating them into the military service, is prohibited.” 
Peru, Law on Military Service, 2008, Article 6.

Peru’s Regulations on Military Service (2009) states: “Capturing persons below the age of 18 for military service is absolutely prohibited and the personnel directly involved in military recruitment is subject to administrative and criminal responsibility.” 
Peru, Regulations on Military Service, 2009, Article 6; see also Article 58.

Philippines
The Act on Child Protection (1992) of the Philippines, in an article on “Children in situations of armed conflict”, provides: “Children shall not be recruited to become members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines or its civilian units or other armed groups.” 
Philippines, Act on Child Protection, 1992, Article X, Section 22(b).

The Philippines’ Republic Act No. 8371 (1997) on the rights of indigenous cultural communities/indigenous people states:
Rights during Armed Conflict.- ICCs/IPs [Indigenous Cultural Communities/Indigenous People] have the right to special protection and security in periods of armed conflict. The State shall observe international standards, in particular, the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, for the protection of civilian populations in circumstances of emergency and armed conflict, and shall not recruit members of the ICCs/IPs against their will into armed forces, and in particular, for the use against other ICCs/IPs; not recruit children of ICCs/IPs into the armed forces under any circumstance; nor force indigenous individuals to abandon their lands, territories and means of subsistence, or relocate them in special centers for military purposes under any discriminatory condition. 
Philippines, Republic Act No. 8371, 1997, Section 22.

The Philippines’ Republic Act No. 9208 (2003) on trafficking in persons states:
Sec. 3. Definition of Terms. – As used in this Act:

(b) Child – refers to a person below eighteen (18) years of age or one who is over eighteen (18) but is unable to fully take care of or protect himself/herself from abuse, neglect, cruelty, exploitation, or discrimination because of a physical or mental disability or condition.

Sec. 4. Acts of Trafficking in Persons. – It shall be unlawful for any person, natural or judicial, to commit any of the following acts.

(h) To recruit, transport or adopt a child to engage in armed activities in the Philippines or abroad. 
Philippines, Republic Act No. 9208, 2003, Sections 3(b) and 4(h).

The Philippines’ Republic Act No. 9231 (2003) on the special protection of children against child abuse, exploitation and discrimination states:
Sec. 12-D. Prohibition Against Worst Forms of Child Labor. – No child shall be engaged in the worst forms of child labor. The phrase “worst forms of child labor” shall refer to any of the following:
(1) All forms of slavery, as defined under the “Anti-trafficking in Persons Act of 2003”, or practices similar to slavery such as sale and trafficking of children, debt bondage and serfdom and forced or compulsory labor, including recruitment of children for use in armed conflict. 
Philippines, Republic Act No. 9231, 2003, preamble and Section 1.

Qatar
Qatar’s Law on Military Service (2006) provides that a person appointed to military service may “not be under the age of eighteen”. 
Qatar, Law on Military Service, 2006, Article 13.

Republic of Korea
The Republic of Korea’s ICC Act (2007) provides for the punishment of anyone who commits the war crime of “[c]onscripting children under the age of fifteen years into the armed forces or in armed groups, or enlisting them in the armed forces or in armed groups” in both international and non-international armed conflicts. 
Republic of Korea, ICC Act, 2007, Article 10(3)(5).

Russian Federation
The Russian Federation’s Law on the Ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict (2008) states:
The Russian Federation, pursuant to article 3, paragraph 2, of the Optional Protocol, declares that, in accordance with the legislation of the Russian Federation, citizens under the age of 18 may not be recruited for military service in the armed forces of the Russian Federation and a military service contract may not be concluded with them. 
Russian Federation, Federal Law on the Ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, 2008, § 2.

Rwanda
Rwanda’s Law Relating to Rights and Protection of the Child against Violence (2001) provides: “Military service is prohibited for children less than 18 years.” 
Rwanda, Law Relating to Rights and Protection of the Child against Violence, 2001, Article 19.

Rwanda’s Presidential Order Establishing Army General Statutes (2002) provides:
Article: 5
For anybody to qualify for recruitment into the Rwanda Defence Forces, he [must fulfil the] following conditions:

4. To be at least 18 years old minimum. 
Rwanda, Presidential Order Establishing Army General Statutes, 2002, Article 5.

Rwanda’s Law Repressing the Crime of Genocide, Crimes against Humanity and War Crimes (2003) provides:
Article: 10
“War crime” shall also mean any of the following acts committed in armed conflicts:

8° forcing civilians, including children under eighteen (18) years, to take part in hostilities or to perform works related to military purposes;

Article: 11
Anyone who commits one of the war crimes provided for in Article 10 of this law shall be punished by the following penalties:

2° imprisonment for ten (10) to twenty (20) years, where he has committed a crime provided for in point 3°, 8°, 11° or 12° of Article 10 of this law. 
Rwanda, Law Repressing the Crime of Genocide, Crimes against Humanity and War Crimes, 2003, Articles 10–11.

Senegal
Senegal’s Penal Code (1965), as amended in 2007, states that the following constitute war crimes:
b) [O]ther serious violations of the laws and customs applicable in international armed conflict, within the established framework of international law, namely, any of the following acts:

22. conscripting or enrolling minors into the national armed forces and using them to actively participate in hostilities;

d) …
Other serious violations of the laws and customs applicable in armed conflicts not of an international character, within the established framework of international law, namely, any of the following acts [also constitute war crimes]:

7. conscripting or enrolling minors into the national armed forces or to [armed] groups. 
Senegal, Penal Code, 1965, as amended in 2007, Article 431-3(b)(22) and (d)(7).

Serbia
Serbia’s Criminal Code (2005) states that, in time of war, armed conflict or occupation, ordering or “compelling to military service persons less than seventeen years of age”, in violation of international law, constitutes a war crime. 
Serbia, Criminal Code, 2005, Article 372(1).

Sierra Leone
Sierra Leone’s Child Rights Act (2007) states:
(1) Every child has the right to be protected from involvement in armed or any other kind of violent conflicts, and accordingly, the minimum age of recruitment into the armed forces shall be eighteen.
(2) The Government shall not -
(a) recruit or conscript any child into military or para-military service or permit such recruitment or conscription by the armed forces. 
Sierra Leone, Child Rights Act, 2007, § 28(1) and (2)(a).

South Africa
South Africa’s ICC Act (2002) reproduces the war crimes listed in the 1998 ICC Statute, including “conscripting or enlisting children under the age of fifteen years” into national armed forces in international armed conflicts or into armed forces or groups in non-international armed conflicts. 
South Africa, ICC Act, 2002, Schedule 1, Part 3, §§ (b)(xxvi) and (e)(vii).

Spain
Under Spain’s Penal Code (1995), breaches of international treaty provisions providing for special protection of children are punished. 
Spain, Penal Code, 1995, Article 612(3).

Spain’s Penal Code (1995), as amended in 2010, states:
Anyone who [commits any of the following acts] during armed conflict shall be punished with three to seven years’ imprisonment:

3. … [V]iolating the prohibitions … regarding the special protection owed to … children as stipulated by the international treaties to which Spain is a party and, in particular [with regards to] recruiting or enlisting children under the age of eighteen. 
Spain, Penal Code, 1995, as amended on 23 June 2010, Article 612(3).

Spain’s Law on the Military Career (2007) states under the heading “General Prerequisites for Admission to the Military Education and Training Centres”: “Underage persons may … apply to take the examinations in the year of their eighteenth birthday, although their admittance and rank designation shall remain on hold until they become eighteen.” 
Spain, Law on the Military Career, 2007, Article 56(3); see also Article 56(4).

The Law also states: “The Government … shall establish through royal decree the rules required for the general call for compulsory reservists applicable to those between 19 and 25 years of age.” 
Spain, Law on the Military Career, 2007, Article 56(3); see also Article 136(1).

Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka’s Penal Code (2006) states:
Any person who –

(d) engages or recruits a child for use in armed conflict,
shall be guilty of an offence.

“child” means a person under eighteen years of age. 
Sri Lanka, Penal Code, 2006, Section 358A.

Uganda
Uganda’s Defence Forces Act (2005) provides: “No person shall be enrolled into the Defence Forces unless he or she … is at least 18 years of age.” 
Uganda, Defence Forces Act, 2005, § 52(2).

Ukraine
Ukraine’s Military Service Law (1992) states that 18 years is the recruitment age for the armed forces. Adolescents of 15 to 17 years old can enter military schools after having passed a medical examination. Military education and military service for persons who have not reached 15 years of age are forbidden. 
Ukraine, Military Service Law, 1992, Article 15.

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Under the UK ICC Act (2001), it is a punishable offence to commit a war crime as defined in Article 8(2)(b)(xxvi) and (e)(vii) of the 1998 ICC Statute. 
United Kingdom, ICC Act, 2001, Sections 50(1) and 51(1) (England and Wales) and Section 58(1) (Northern Ireland).

United States of America
The US Child Soldiers Accountability Act (2008) amends Chapter 118 of Title 18 of the United States Code as follows:
“§ 2442. Recruitment … of child soldiers
“(a) OFFENSE.—Whoever knowingly–
“(1) recruits, enlists, or conscripts a person to serve while such person is under 15 years of age in an armed force or group;

knowing such person is under 15 years of age, shall be punished as provided in subsection (b).
“(b) PENALTY.—Whoever violates, or attempts or conspires to violate, subsection (a) shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both and, if death of any person results, shall be fined under this title and imprisoned for any term of years or for life.

“(d) DEFINITIONS.—In this section:

“(2) ARMED FORCES OR GROUP.—The term ‘armed force or group’ means any army, militia, or other military organization, whether or not it is state-sponsored, excluding any group assembled solely for non-violent political association.” 
United States, Child Soldiers Accountability Act, 2008, § 2442(a), (b) and (d)(1) and (2).

Uruguay
Uruguay’s Law on Cooperation with the ICC (2006) states:
26.2. Persons and objects affected by the war crimes set out in the present provision are persons and objects which international law protects in international or internal armed conflict.
26.3. The following are war crimes:

34. Conscripting or enlisting children under the age of eighteen years into the national armed forces. 
Uruguay, Law on Cooperation with the ICC, 2006, Article 26.2 and 26.3.34.

Viet Nam
Viet Nam’s Ordinance on the Militia and Defence Force (2004) states that no person under the age of 18 years shall be liable for military service in the militia or self-defence force. 
Viet Nam, Ordinance on the Militia and Defence Force, 2004, § 2.1.

Yugoslavia, Federal Republic of
The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia’s Army Act (1994) states that military conscription duty falls in the year when a draftee is to become 18, but a conscript may be recruited when he is turning 17 on personal request or under an order of the President in case of war. 
Yugoslavia, Federal Republic of, Army Act, 1994, Article 291.

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Colombia
In 2004, in Constitutional Case No. C-172/04, the Criminal Chamber of Colombia’s Constitutional Court stated:
The recruitment of boys, girls and teenagers [for the purpose of participating in] the armed confrontations inter alia violates their rights to personal integrity, life, liberty, free development of their personality, freedom of expression, education, health, family and recreation. 
Colombia, Constitutional Court, Constitutional Case No. C-172/04, Judgment of 2 March 2004, § 4.1.
(footnote in original omitted)
In 2005, in the Constitutional Case No. C-203/05, the Plenary Chamber of Colombia’s Constitutional Court stated: “There is no question that since they were recruited by unlawful armed groups – many of them by force or allegedly ‘voluntarily’ – children and adolescent combatants are victims of the crime of unlawful recruitment of minors.” 
Colombia, Constitutional Court, Constitutional Case No. C-203/05, Judgment of 8 March 2005, § 6.4.1.

In 2007, in the Constitutional Case No. C-291/07, the Plenary Chamber of Colombia’s Constitutional Court stated:
Taking into account … the development of customary international humanitarian law applicable in internal armed conflicts, the Constitutional Court notes that the fundamental guarantees stemming from the principle of humanity, some of which have attained ius cogens status, … [include] the prohibition of child recruitment. 
Colombia, Constitutional Court, Constitutional Case No. C-291/07, Judgment of 25 April 2007, p. 112.
[footnote in original omitted]
Democratic Republic of the Congo
In July 2007, the Military Auditor at the Military Garrison Court of Haut-Katanga at Kipushi referred the Kyungu Mutanga case for trial at the court. The charges listed in the referral decision included:
3. Having committed war crimes … as part of a plan or a policy or a large-scale commission of such crimes, in view of either the grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, namely acts against persons or property protected under the provisions of the Geneva Conventions; (…) or, in the case of an armed conflict not of an international character at the exclusion of situations of internal disturbances and tensions, such as riots, isolated and sporadic acts of violence or other acts of a similar nature, serious violations of article 3 common to the four Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, namely, acts committed against persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed hors de combat by sickness, wounds, detention or any other cause; or other serious violations of the laws and customs applicable in armed conflicts not of an international character, within the established framework of international law, excluding situations of internal disturbances and tensions, such as riots, isolated and sporadic acts of violence or other acts of a similar nature, including armed conflicts that take place in the territory of a State when there is protracted armed conflict between governmental authorities and organized armed groups or between such groups:
In the present case,

b) having enlisted into his movement about 300 children aged less than 15 years, of which 270 were identified and demobilized by the CONADER [National Commission for Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration] at the time of this surrender on 12 May 2006 in Mazombwe, and among whom are: KNR, recruited at the age of 14 years in the locality Kinshia; KNK, recruited at the age of 11 years in the locality Nkonga by the commander Katema; MNT, recruited at the age of 10 years in the locality Kilumbe; LM, recruited at the age of 9 years in the locality Ntoya; MKL, recruited at the age of 13 years in the locality Mwerma; NKN, recruited at the age of 13 years in the locality Shamwana; these latter having actively participated in hostilities in the localities of Shamwana, Mwema, Ntoya, Kilumbe, Nkonga, Kinshia and Luende.

Acts provided for and penalized by Article 8(2) … e) … vii) and 77 of the Rome Statute. 
Democratic Republic of the Congo, Military Auditor at the Military Garrison Court of Haut-Katanga, Kyungu Mutanga case, Referral decision, 10 July 200, pp. 4–5.

Germany
In 2010, the Federal Prosecutor General at Germany’s Federal Court of Justice published the following statement, entitled Charges against Two Alleged Leading Officials of the “Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda” (FDLR):
On 8 December 2010, the Federal Prosecutor General brought charges before the Senate on State Protection of the Higher Regional Court Stuttgart against:
- the 47-year-old Rwandese national Dr. Ignace M. and
- the 49-year-old Rwandese national Straton M.
for crimes against humanity and war crimes …
In the charges, which have now been delivered and which are the first ones brought under the International Crimes Code, essentially the following facts are set out:
The … [Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR)] … is a rebel group mainly comprised of members of the ethnic Hutu group and was originally founded by individuals responsible for the genocide of the Tutsi who had fled from Rwanda in 1994. Its operational base is in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo [DRC]. …

The accused Dr. Ignace M. has been president of the FDLR since December 2001. The accused Straton M. has been its first vice president since June 2004. Until their arrest in Germany on 17 November 2009, both accused steered the FDLR’s conduct, strategies and tactics from Germany together with Calixte M., who is residing in France and who has since been detained by the International Criminal Court in The Hague. Thus, they could have prevented the systematic commission of violent acts against the civilian population by the FDLR’s militiamen, which were part of the organization’s strategy. Specifically, the accused are responsible for 26 crimes against humanity and 39 war crimes, which the militiamen under their control committed in the Democratic Republic of Congo between January 2009 and 17 November 2009. These crimes inter alia include … incorporating children into the FDLR militia. 
Germany, Federal Prosecutor General, Charges against Two Alleged Leading Officials of the “Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda” (FDLR), Press release, 17 December 2010.

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Afghanistan
In 2009, in its initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Afghanistan stated:
Conscription in the army
79. The Council of Ministers Directive No. 30 issued in 2008 states that the age of conscription to the armed services is a minimum of 18 years of age.

Children and armed conflict
272. Afghanistan ratified the [2000] Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict in 2003. In 2007 Afghanistan, together with 58 other states, endorsed the Paris Commitments to protect children from unlawful recruitment or use by armed forces or armed groups and the Paris Principles and guidelines on children associated with armed forces or armed groups.

274. After the establishment of the new Government in 2002, compulsory service in the army has been changed to voluntary service and recruited is for a period of three years. This issue has been reflected in the Council of Ministers Directive No. 30 issued in 2008. Also in accordance with this directive, the age of conscription to the armed service is a minimum of 18 years of age. 
Afghanistan, Initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, 13 June 2010, UN Doc. CRC/C/AFG/1, submitted 28 August 2009, §§ 79, 272 and 274.

Argentina
In 2007, in its initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, Argentina stated:
Argentina collaborated actively with the open-ended intersessional working group on the draft optional protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on involvement of children in armed conflicts. In the working group, Argentina maintained its firm position on establishing a universal minimum age of 18 for recruitment by government forces and on the implementation of all norms of international humanitarian law that prohibit the recruitment of minors by non-governmental armed groups involved in hostilities as combatants. However, if those groups do not have the status of combatants, the recruitment of children should constitute a violation of domestic law. 
Argentina, Initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, 13 November 2007, UN Doc. CRC/C/OPAC/ARG/1, submitted 12 June 2007, § 5.

Argentina also stated:
Article 8, paragraphs (c) and (d), of the Act [No. 24.429 of 1995] set the following conditions for admission to voluntary military service: “to be between 18 and 24 years of age” and “in the case of minors, to have the permission of their legal guardian” (bearing in mind that the age of majority in Argentina is 21). 
Argentina, Initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, 13 November 2007, UN Doc. CRC/C/OPAC/ARG/1, submitted 12 June 2007, § 38.

Argentina further stated: “When it ratified the Optional Protocol [on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict], Argentina declared the minimum age for voluntary recruitment in the national Armed Forces to be 18.” 
Argentina, Initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, 13 November 2007, UN Doc. CRC/C/OPAC/ARG/1, submitted 12 June 2007, § 45.

Australia
In 2008, in its initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the 2000 Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, Australia stated:
6. Australia signed the Optional Protocol on 21 October 2002, and ratified it in September 2006. It entered into force for Australia on 26 October 2006, pursuant to article 10(2) of the Optional Protocol.

15. … Australia considers that the recruitment and use of persons under 18 as soldiers remains a serious problem for the international community. …

32. Consistent with the Optional Protocol and Australia’s declaration made at the time of ratification, which allows for the recruitment of persons under 18 years of age subject to certain conditions, the ADF continues to observe a minimum voluntary recruitment age of 17 years. …

46. … [T]he Commonwealth Criminal Code, sections 268.68 and 268.88 make the war crime of using, conscripting or enlisting children in an armed conflict an offence under Australian law. Section 268.68 refers to international armed conflict and section 268.88 refers to non-international armed conflict and both provisions have extraterritorial effect. The various offences under these sections carry maximum penalties of 17 years, 15 years and 10 years imprisonment. 
Australia, Initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, 15 September 2010, UN Doc. CRC/C/OPAC/AUS/1, submitted October 2008. §§ 6, 15, 32 and 46.

In 2009, in a ministerial statement before the House of Representatives on the humanitarian crisis in Sri Lanka, Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs stated: “[T]here remains much human suffering among the civilians trapped in the conflict zone. Reports of abuses from within the conflict zone include accounts of … forced recruitment of children … by the LTTE [Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam]. 
Australia, House of Representatives, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ministerial statement: Humanitarian Crisis in Sri Lanka, Hansard, 12 May 2009, p. 3502.

In 2009, in response to a question on notice before the Senate concerning whether the Australian government intended to raise the minimum age of recruitment into its armed forces to 18 years of age, Australia’s Minister for Defence stated:
No. Current policy allows for a minimum recruitment age of 17 years. Increasing the recruitment age to 18 years would restrict the quality and quantity of available candidates, as many potential recruits, particularly from those States and Territories where students finish school at 17 years of age, would find alternative employment and career paths at the conclusion of their secondary schooling. 
Australia, Senate, Minister for Defence, Question on notice: Australian Defence Force, Hansard, 17 August 2009, p. 5111.

In 2010, in a statement before the UN Human Rights Council, Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Myanmar, the representative of Australia stated: “Australia shares the Special Rapporteur’s concerns in relation to the impact of ongoing conflict on … the recruitment of child soldiers by various parties.” 
Australia, Statement by its representative before the UN Human Rights Council, Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Myanmar, 15 March 2010.

In 2010, in a statement on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) before the UN Human Rights Council, the representative of Australia stated:
[Australia is] concerned that certain elements within the DRC’s armed forces continue to … recruit children. We support the Experts’ recommendation that the Government should prepare and implement an action plan for the prevention of recruitment … of child soldiers. 
Australia, Statement by its representative before the UN Human Rights Council, 13th Regular Session, Interactive Dialogue with Experts on the Situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, 24 March 2010.

In 2010, in a statement on Somalia before the UN Human Rights Council, the representative of Australia stated:
Australia … [is] deeply concerned by his [the Independent Expert’s] observation that the situation for … children in Somalia has become more precarious. In particular, we note the Independent Expert’s report of … the continued recruitment … of child soldiers. We support the Independent Expert’s call for all parties in the conflict – government and opposition groups – to respect basic principles of human rights and humanitarian law. 
i> Australia, Statement by its representative before the UN Human Rights Council, 13th Regular Session, Interactive Dialogue on the Situation of Human Rights in Somalia, 24 March 2010.

Azerbaijan
In 2008, in its initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, Azerbaijan stated:
15. Under article 116.0.5 of the Criminal Code, the enlistment of minors in the armed forces is qualified as the crime of violating standards of international humanitarian law during armed conflicts and is punished by deprivation of liberty for a term of 7 to 15 years, or life imprisonment. …
17. … [P]ursuant to the Military Service Act of 3 November 1992, citizens who meet the requirements for serving in the armed forces may receive training in military colleges once they have reached the age of 17. The legislation of Azerbaijan prohibits all forms of forced instruction in these establishments and any person who wishes to receive instruction in them must present the requisite documents. 
Azerbaijan, Initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, 31 March 2011, UN Doc. CRC/C/OPAC/AZE/1, submitted 14 November 2008, §§ 15 and 17.

In 2009, in its combined third and fourth periodic reports to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Azerbaijan stated:
425. According to the Law of the Republic of Azerbaijan “On Military Service” of November 3, 1992, [those eligible for recruitment] … are 18–35 year old men who are in the military registry …

429. … [C]itizens of the Republic of Azerbaijan and other persons meeting the set requirements of the military service can voluntarily enter and be enrolled to the active military service in the military schools for cadets upon reaching the age of 17. 
Azerbaijan, Third and fourth periodic reports to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, 26 April 2011, UN Doc. CRC/C/AZE/3-4, submitted 11 November 2009, §§ 425 and 429.

Bangladesh
In 2004, in its initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, Bangladesh stated:
2. The recruitment rules of the Bangladesh Army do not permit any person who has not attained the age of 18 to participate in any armed hostilities.
3. There is no provision for compulsory recruitment into the armed forces in Bangladesh.
4. The following are the age limits for the voluntary enrolment of recruits in:
(a) The Bangladesh Army:
- Combats: 17–20 years;
- Non-combats: 17–20 years;
- Commissioned ranks: 17–40 years.
After being enrolled all of them have to complete their respective basic training courses prior to their employment for actual services. 
Bangladesh, Initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, 14 July 2005, UN Doc. CRC/C/OPAC/VNM/1, submitted 16 November 2004, §§ 2–4.

In 2007, in its combined third and fourth periodic reports to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Bangladesh stated:
370. Bangladesh does not allow its under-18 citizens to serve in the positions in armed forces, police, Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) … Ansar (Auxiliary Force) and Village Defence Party (VDP). Persons are recruited in the armed forces on [a] strictly voluntary basis … No one is recruited in Police, VDP and Ansar at an age below 18 years.

443. Bangladesh has signed and ratified the [2000] Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict (ICAC) on 6 September 2000 …

444. [Bangladesh] … reiterates that the minimum age for recruitment and deployment in all branches of law enforcement and defence is in conformity with the Optional Protocol and there is clear government direction in this regard. The Government need not have a separate legislation in this respect.

446. With regard to the consent of parents or legal guardians for the recruitment of under-18, [Bangladesh] does not think it is necessary since the actual induction of persons in different forces [is] done only when the person attains the age of 18. The training period is not considered to be [part of] the service period and [is therefore] not a violation of the provisions of the Optional Protocol [on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict].
447. [Bangladesh] … does not believe that there are any major issues around possible military training that children undergo in any part of the country including the “madrasahs”. This is illegal as per the law of the land and the government takes stern actions against anyone found involved in this kind of activities. Recently, the government tried a number of persons involved in these activities and gave the highest punishment, [the] death sentence, to them which was also carried out. The government maintains strict vigilance against any such activities to happen in future. 
Bangladesh, Combined third and fourth periodic reports to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, 29 October 2008, UN Doc. CRC/C/BGD/4, submitted 4 September 2007, §§ 370, 443–444 and 446–447.

Belgium
In 2002, upon ratification of the 2000 Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, Belgium declared:
In accordance with [the Optional Protocol’s] article 3, paragraph 2, and bearing in mind article 3, paragraph 5, the Government of the Kingdom of Belgium states that the minimum age for voluntary recruitment into the Belgian armed forces is not lower than 18 years. 
Belgium, Declaration made upon ratification of the 2000 Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, 6 May 2002.

In 2004, in its initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, Belgium stated:
The acquisition of military candidate status requires the individual concerned to sign an act of enlistment. The Act of [27] March 2003 [concerning the recruitment of military personnel and the status of military musicians and amending various acts applicable to national defence personnel] … stipulates that underage minors must have the consent of the person or persons having parental authority over them. Consent is issued by means of a certificate, the model for which is established by royal decree. 
Belgium, Initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, 15 August 2005, UN Doc. CRC/C/OPAC/BEL/1, submitted 30 March 2004, § 38.

In 2006, in its written replies to the questions raised by the Committee on the Rights of the Child with regard to Belgium’s initial report under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, Belgium stated:
As regards the recruitment of children under the age of 15 in the armed forces or armed groups … , article 8 of the Act of 5 August 2003 [on serious violations of international humanitarian law] … introduces a new provision into the Belgian Criminal Code (art. 136 quater, para. 1, point 7) under which such acts can be prosecuted as war crimes.
… This provision specifically covers the conscription or enlistment of children; as the recruitment of children is punishable under Belgian law, when recruitment takes place in Belgium the Belgian courts automatically have jurisdiction in the matter regardless of whether or not the act was committed by a Belgian national.
If the child is recruited abroad by a non-Belgian national, Belgium may exercise extraterritorial jurisdiction within the limits set out [in the Act of 5 August 2003]. 
Belgium, Written replies to the list of issues to be taken up in connection with the consideration of the initial report of Belgium to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, 3 April 2006, UN Doc. CRC/C/OPAC/BEL/Q/1/Add.1, submitted 30 March 2006, pp. 2–3.

Belgium
In 2007, during a debate in the UN Security Council on the situation in Africa, the representative of Belgium stated: “Belgium strongly condemns … any forced recruitment, including of children, by the various rebel groups.” 
Belgium, Statement by the Deputy Permanent Representative of Belgium before the UN Security Council on “The situation in Africa”, 4 April 2007, p. 12.

Belgium
In 2007, during a debate in the UN Security Council on peace and security in Africa, the Prime Minister of Belgium stated:
… each one of [the many thousands of tragic, shocking tales of child soldiers on the African continent today] is a stain on the soul of human civilization – an unacceptable stain that politicians cannot and must not ignore. … The international community must reach an agreement on stopping development aid to countries that use child soldiers in their army.

Offending countries must not only be named, or shamed, but must actually be punished. But above all, the offenders themselves must be put on trial. Take, for example, [Joseph] Kony, the so-called leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army of Uganda. He alone has been responsible for the abuse of almost 70,000 child soldiers on the African continent. … Let us arrest him and put him on trial and make an example of him, as a warning to all criminals that the exploitation of children in armed conflicts is not possible in this modern world. 
Belgium, Statement by the Prime Minister of Belgium before the UN Security Council on “Peace and security in Africa”, 25 September 2007, p. 12.

Belgium
In 2007, at the 62nd Session of the UN General Assembly, the Belgian Minister of Foreign Affairs stated: “Conflicts affect civilian population far beyond the end of hostilities. … This is … why [Belgium] carries out an action against the recruitment … of child soldiers.” 
Belgium, Statement by the Minister of Foreign Affairs at the 62nd Session of the UN General Assembly, 1 October 2007, p. 6.

Bosnia and Herzegovina
In 2004, in its initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) stated that “persons that are under 15 years may not be recruited into the armed forces to participate in armed conflicts”. 
Bosnia and Herzegovina, Initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, 14 October 2004, UN Doc. CRC/C/11/Add. 28, submitted 14 May 2004, § 332.

The report also stated: “In case of immediate war threat or state of war, the members of the Presidency of the Federation of BiH may issue an order for conscription of persons who are 16 years of age.” 
Bosnia and Herzegovina, Initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, 14 October 2004, UN Doc. CRC/C/11/Add. 28, submitted 14 May 2004, § 334.

Burundi
In 2008, in its second periodic report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Burundi stated:
7. In 2003, … the Government had already begun with the demobilization of child soldiers, initiating a plan to that effect in conjunction with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Bank. The objectives of the plan are to … raise popular awareness of the need to prevent the recruitment of children.

91. Since the preparation of the initial report, national legislation has evolved with regard to voluntary enlistment or recruitment in the government armed forces, the minimum age having been raised from 16 years to 18.

93. Above and beyond this legal provision of principle, as mentioned earlier, in 2003 the Government adopted specific measures to demobilize child soldiers recruited by the government army or by the former armed political movements which had signed the ceasefire agreements.

302. As noted in the introduction, in 2002 the Government launched a programme for the demobilization of children who had taken part in the armed conflicts. The target groups are:
- Child soldiers recruited by the government army
- Police officers
- Children who fought on the side of the armed movements which signed ceasefire agreements
303. Objectives of the programme:
- Demobilize 90 per cent of all child soldiers (estimated at 3,000) in military formations of the government army and in the targeted rebel factions over a period of 12 months

- Ensure that mechanisms are in place and operational within 18 months to prevent all parties to the conflict from recruiting children
304. The programme has attained its objectives because more than 3,000 children have been demobilized …
305. The Government has devised a plan for the demobilization … of child soldiers with the financial support of the World Bank … The … objective is to prevent recruitment. 
Burundi, Second periodic report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, 7 January 2010, UN Doc. CRC/C/BDI/2, submitted 17 July 2008, §§ 7, 91, 93 and 302–305.

Canada
At the 27th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent in 1999, Canada pledged “to promote the adoption of national and international standards prohibiting the military recruitment … in armed conflicts of persons under 18 years of age”. 
Canada, Pledge made at the 27th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, Geneva, 31 October–6 November 1999.

Chad
In 1997, in its initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Chad stated: “Under article 14 of ordinance No. 01/PCE/CEDNACVG/91 of 16 January 1991 (armed forces reorganization ordinance), the age of recruitment is set at 18 for volunteers and 20 for conscripts. 
Chad, Initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, 24 July 1997, UN Doc. CRC/C/3/Add.50, submitted 14 January 1997, § 44.

Chad also stated:
187. Children are the principal victims of the bloody and devastating civil wars that have occurred in Chad since 1979. … The presence of minors has also been noted in the national army, in spite of ordinance No. 001 of 16 January 1991, which lays down a minimum age of recruitment into the army.
188. Like other countries, Chad has not been insensitive to this alarming situation. Thus it endorsed United Nations General Assembly resolution 48/157 of 20 December 1993 concerning the protection of children affected by armed conflicts and took an active part in the consultation on the impact of armed conflict on children held in Abidjan from 7 to 10 November 1995.
189. At the national level, a memorandum of understanding signed between the Republic of Chad and France on 30 July 1991 provided for a reduction in the armed forces, the discharge of minors and their resettlement in civilian life. Article 2 of decree No. 398/PR/MDNACVG/92 of 24 July 1992 concerning the discharge of army personnel stipulates specifically that the provisions concern minors. In accordance with this decree a census of minors was organized by the Ministry for the Armed Forces. Of the 500 minors listed, 467 were discharged with an end-of-service grant. The other 33, having reached the age of majority, preferred to continue their army career. 
Chad, Initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, 24 July 1997, UN Doc. CRC/C/3/Add.50, submitted 14 January 1997, §§ 187–189.

In 2007, in its second periodic report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Chad stated: “The age of recruitment into the army is fixed at 18 years (Ordinance No. 001 of 16 January 1991).” 
Chad, Second periodic report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, 14 December 2007, UN Doc. CRC/C/TCD/2, submitted 7 June 2007, § 55.

Chad also stated:
235. Chad is having to cope with an influx of refugees as a result of the conflicts which broke out in 2003 in Darfur and the Central African Republic.
236. In 2005, the east of the country was sheltering 220,000 refugees from Darfur, 60 per cent of them aged under 18.
237. In the south, Chad is sheltering some 40,000 refugees from the Central African Republic. Some 5,500 refugees are estimated to be living in urban areas. They are from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Rwanda, as well as from Sudan and the Central African Republic.

239. In the case of unaccompanied children, arrangements for identification, care, monitoring, family search and family reunification have been put in place in order to protect them against … recruitment in the camps and the host communities.

250. Although no figures are available, throughout the first half of 2006 cases of the recruitment of children were unfortunately recorded in the Sudanese refugee camps and in the east of Chad. Awareness-raising campaigns have been carried out by United Nations institutions and international NGOs in order to check this problem. 
Chad, Second periodic report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, 14 December 2007, UN Doc. CRC/C/TCD/2, submitted 7 June 2007, §§ 235–237, 239 and 250.

In 2009, in its written replies to the issues raised by the Committee on the Rights of the Child with regard to Chad’s second periodic report, Chad stated:
The children whom the State party considers as having priority and urgently requiring attention with a view to the implementation of the [1989] Convention [on the Rights of the Child] are those in need of special protection measures [including] … children involved in the armed forces or armed groups …
On 9 May 2007, the UNICEF office in Chad and the Government of Chad signed a protocol of agreement on protecting children who are victims of armed conflict … , with a view to enforcing international instruments concerning the protection of children affected by armed conflict. Under the agreement, UNICEF is helping the Government of Chad to prevent the recruitment … of children in armed forces and groups …
This agreement came after the Government had signed the Paris Commitments to protect children unlawfully recruited … by armed forces or armed groups in Chad.
A national programme to prevent … children recruited or used by armed forces and armed groups in Chad has been in place since 2007, following the signing of the Paris Commitments and the protocol of agreement. A national coordinating body has been entrusted to ensure the proper implementation, monitoring and overall harmonization of ongoing or proposed activities of the programme, take strategic decisions and make sure that the process is consistent with the Paris Principles. It is composed of eight ministries, five United Nations agencies, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the National Human Rights Commission, two human rights organizations, the Red Cross in Chad and four international non-governmental organizations.
Provision has been made to implement a communication strategy and integrated communication plan for this programme in 2008.

… Information concerning children deprived of a family environment and separated from their parents is available only for the following years:
2007: 658, including … 451 children recruited or used by armed forces and armed groups …
2008: 59 children recruited or used by armed forces and armed groups and separated from their parents
… [D]isaggregated data are available for children recruited or used by armed forces and armed groups, as follows:
9–11 years old: 25 children, or 90 per cent
12–14 years old: 143 children, or 28.03 per cent
15–17 years old: 318 children, or 62.35 per cent
18 years or older: 24, or 4.7 per cent. 
Chad, Written replies by the Government of Chad to the Committee on the Rights of the Child concerning the list of issues to be taken up in connection with the second periodic report of Chad, 8 January 2009, UN Doc. CRC/C/TCD/Q/2/Add.1, submitted 7 January 2009, pp. 4–5.

In 2009, in its written replies to the issues raised by the Human Rights Committee with regard to Chad’s initial report, Chad stated: “The recruitment into the army of minors under 18 is officially prohibited by law. Children can nevertheless be found in military camps and among armed groups, although there are no statistics on this”. 
Chad, Written replies by the Government of Chad to the Human Rights Committee concerning the list of issues to be taken up in connection with the initial report of Chad, 20 January 2009, UN Doc. CCPR/C/TCD/Q/1/Add.1, submitted 12 January 2009, § 47.

Chile
According to the Report on the Practice of Chile, it is the opinio juris of Chile that persons under the age of 18 must not be recruited in any hostilities. 
Report on the Practice of Chile, 1997, Chapter 5.3.

China
In July 2006, during a debate in the UN Security Council on children and armed conflict, China stated:
… it is regrettable that, at present, children in more than 30 countries around the world are harmed in various ways by armed conflicts. Some of them are killed in merciless wars, while others are forced into armed conflicts as a means of war, still others are kidnapped or subject to various forms of physical abuse. These children rightfully belong in classrooms, studying and acquiring knowledge. Instead, they have become victims of armed conflicts …

All countries and parties have the obligation to do their utmost to protect children from being harmed in armed conflict … Taking the protection of children as an important aspect of their operations, some United Nations peacekeeping missions have given full consideration to the special needs of children in helping the host countries in their disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programs … China is very much concerned that armed conflict in different regions of the world causes harm to children. We support all efforts made by the United Nations, including the Security Council, in promoting the protection of children in armed conflict. I wish to emphasize the following points in this regard:

Second, when dealing with the issue of “Children and Armed Conflict”, we should always respect and support the role played by the governments of the countries concerned … At present, many national governments in conflict situations have adopted various strategies and plans prohibiting the recruitment of child soldiers and protecting children affected by armed conflict. All these factors have to be considered when carrying out international cooperation in this field.

Lastly, China once again urges parties to all armed conflicts to genuinely discharge their responsibilities to respect and protect the rights of children … The protection of children has always been a focus in the work of the government of China, which has ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict as early as in 2002. We call on more countries to accede to the Protocol, and hope that the protocol provisions concerning the age limit for conscription will be observed. China hopes that, with the efforts of all parties, a favourable environment will be created for children all over the world to live and grow and enjoy a bright future. 
China, Statement by Ambassador at the Open Debate of the UN Security Council on children and armed conflict, 24 July 2006.

In November 2006, during a debate in the UN Security Council on children and armed conflict, China stated:
China attaches great importance to the Council’s discussion of the issue and we are against the recruitment and use of child soldiers and other violations of the rights and interests of children in armed conflict. It is our hope that the Council will play a unique role in its consideration of this question. 
China, Statement by Ambassador at the Open Debate of the UN Security Council on children and armed conflict, 28 November 2006.

Colombia
Upon ratification of the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child, Colombia stated:
The age [for recruitment] shall be understood to be 18 years, given the fact that, under Colombian law, the minimum age for recruitment into the armed forces of personnel called for military service is 18 years. 
Colombia, Declaration made upon ratification of the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child, 28 January 1991, reprinted in UN Doc. CRC/C/2/Rev.4, 28 July 1995, p. 15.

In 2004, in its third periodic report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Colombia stated: “Act No. 418 of 1997, amended by Acts No. 548 of 1999, No. 642 of 2001 and No. 782 of 2002 and implemented through Decree No. 128 of 2003, prohibits the enlistment of persons under 18 years for military service.” 
Colombia, Third periodic report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, 24 August 2005, UN Doc. CRC/C/Add.129, submitted 28 June 2004, § 581.

In 2006, in its written replies to the issues raised by the Committee on the Rights of the Child with regard to Colombia’s third periodic report, Colombia stated:
[T]he national security forces do not enlist in their ranks anyone under the age of 18.
Concerning children and adolescents having links with outlawed armed groups, it must be pointed out that, in compliance with article 162 of the Colombian Criminal Code, the recruitment of minors is an offence. 
Colombia, Written replies by the Government of Colombia to the Committee on the Rights of the Child concerning the list of issues formulated by the Committee on the Rights of the Child in connection with its consideration of the third periodic report of Colombia, UN Doc. CRC/COL/Q/3/Add.1, 26 April 2006, p. 46.

In 2006, during the consideration of the third periodic report of Colombia before the Committee on the Rights of the Child, a representative of Colombia stated: “The recruitment of minors to the armed forces … [is] banned.” 
Colombia, Statement before the Committee on the Rights of the Child during the consideration of the third periodic report of Colombia, 4 July 2006, UN Doc. CRC/C/SR.1148, § 38.

Croatia
In 2006, in its initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, Croatia stated: “In Croatia minors are protected by domestic law, which prohibits the enlistment of minors (persons who have not reached the age of 18). 
Croatia, Initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, 11 January 2007, UN Doc. CRC/C/OPAC/HRV/1, submitted 24 November 2006, § 17.

Cuba
In 2009, in its second periodic report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Cuba stated:
62. Law 75/94 (National Defence Act) and Decree-Law 224/2001 (dealing with military service) provide that in the year male citizens turn 16 they are obliged to come forward and formally enrol in the military register. T[hey] [t]hen begin the preparation, specialist military training and prevention, care and medical activities that are the prelude to recruitment.

64. These laws also establish that the minimum age for call-up to military service is 18, while people wishing to enlist voluntarily in the armed forces must wait until the year of their seventeenth birthday. …
65. Adolescents have the option of working out their term of military service by performing duties of other kinds, which may be economic or social in character. 
Cuba, Second periodic report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, 5 May 2010, UN Doc. CRC/C/CUB/2, submitted 2 February 2009, §§ 62 and 64–65; see also §§ 488–490.

Denmark
At the 27th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent in 1999, Denmark pledged “to promote the adoption of national and international standards prohibiting the military recruitment … in armed conflicts of persons under 18 years of age”. 
Denmark, Pledge made at the 27th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, Geneva, 31 October–6 November 1999.

Djibouti
In 1998, in its initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Djibouti stated that “young people under 18 may not be accepted into the army”. 
Djibouti, Initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, 1998, § 26.

El Salvador
In 2002, in its second periodic report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, El Salvador stated:
518. The State of El Salvador has taken steps to prevent children from participating in future armed conflicts. Pursuant to the new doctrine of the Armed Forces, an outcome of the Peace Accords, which emphasizes that military training should respect the rule of law and human rights, it was agreed to suspend all forms of forced recruitment and to enact a new Military and Reserve Service Act based on the principles of universality, compulsoriness, equity and non-discrimination of military service.
519. The Constitution (art. 215) stipulates that military service is compulsory for all Salvadorans aged between 18 and 30 years of age. The article reads as follows: “Military service is compulsory for all Salvadorans between the ages of eighteen and thirty. In case of necessity, all Salvadorans who are fit for military service shall be conscripted. This matter shall be regulated by special legislation.”
520. The Legislative Assembly therefore adopted the Armed Forces Military and Reserve Service Act to regulate the matters addressed in the Constitution.
521. The Military Service Act thus stipulates that its provisions apply to all Salvadorans aged between 18 and 30, without distinction as to sex or social, economic or religious status, and, in case of necessity, to all Salvadorans who are fit for military service. The Act also applies to minors aged between 16 and 18 who enlist voluntarily for military service in accordance with the provisions of the Act (art. 2).
522. With regard to the participation of children in future armed conflicts, it may be inferred that such participation is prohibited by law, except where the country’s own needs so require, in which case it must be voluntary. In this connection, the Act (arts. 6 and 11) requires all Salvadorans, within one month of reaching the age of 17, to present themselves at the recruitment and reserve centres of their place of residence and, where appropriate, at the respective offices, in order to be enrolled in the Military Register. However, the Act states that only persons who have reached the age of 18 may be called up, unless persons over 16 years of age present themselves voluntarily. In such cases, they may be accepted in the light of the needs of the service. 
El Salvador, Second periodic report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, 22 October 2003, UN Doc. CRC/65/Add.25, submitted 10 July 2002, §§ 518–522.
[footnote in original omitted]
In 2004, in its initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, El Salvador stated:
12. Article 6 of the Armed Forces (Military and Reserves Service) Act states that “Salvadorans over 16 years of age may voluntarily submit to the Recruitment and Reserves Department or its subsidiary offices an application to perform military service, and the Department shall accept them according to the needs of the service”.
13. Similarly, article 42 of the Act stipulates that: “Provided the recruitment methods laid down in this Act are applied volunteers may be recruited to make up the strength of the armed forces according to the needs of the service.”
14. On the other hand, the General Staff of the Armed Forces has issued a permanent order “to refrain from accepting minors among newly recruited personnel”, so that the armed forces only recruit volunteers who have attained the age of majority.
15. Through these provisions, the State complies with its obligation to ensure that persons who have not attained the age of 18 years are not compulsorily recruited into the armed forces.
16. El Salvador has raised the minimum age in years for the voluntary recruitment of persons into the armed forces from that specified in article 38, paragraph 3, of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, taking account of the principles contained in that article and recognizing that under the Convention persons under the age of 18 years are entitled to special protection.
17. As for the existence of legal provisions whereby the minimum age for recruitment may be lowered in special circumstances, article 215 of the Constitution provides … that in a situation of extreme emergency, such as an international war or an invasion, all Salvadorans fit for military service shall be soldiers.
18. Article 11, paragraph 11, of the Armed Forces (Military and Reserves Service) Act provides that within one month of their seventeenth birthday Salvadorans are obliged to report to their local Recruitment and Reserves Centres, or where applicable to their respective branch offices, in order to enrol in the Military Register, notwithstanding that only those persons who have attained 18 years of age may be called up.

19. Pursuant to article 3, paragraph 2, of the [Optional] Protocol [on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict], El Salvador deposited a binding declaration that sets forth the minimum age at which it will permit voluntary recruitment into its armed forces and describes the safeguards it has adopted to ensure that such recruitment is not forced or coerced.
20. Thus, El Salvador declared in a communication addressed to the Secretary-General of the United Nations that the minimum age for Salvadorans who wish to enlist voluntarily for military service is 16 years, in accordance with articles 2 and 6 of the Armed Forces (Military and Reserves Service) Act. The safeguards adopted by the Salvadoran authorities concerned to ensure that the military service provided is legally voluntary are as follows:
(a) The 16-year-old minor must submit a written request to the Recruitment and Reserves Office or its subsidiary offices, unequivocally stating a desire to perform military service;
(b) Submission of the original birth certificate or minor’s card;
(c) Document certifying knowledge of and consent to the request to perform military service from the minor’s parents, guardian or legal representative, all in accordance with the provisions of title II on parental authority, article 206 et seq. of the Family Code;
(d) Acceptance of the request shall be subject to military service needs.

21. Methods of forced recruitment to enlist young persons in the armed forces are not practised in El Salvador. 
El Salvador, Initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, 15 August 2005, UN Doc. CRC/C/OPAC/SLV/1, submitted 7 January 2004, §§ 12–21.

In 2006, in its written replies to the issues raised by the Committee on the Rights of the Child with regard to El Salvador’s initial report under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, El Salvador stated:
Voluntary recruitment of children under 18 into the Armed Forces
Article 215 of the Constitution states that “Military service is compulsory for all Salvadorans between the ages of 18 and 30. In case of necessity, all Salvadorans who are fit for military service shall be conscripted. This matter shall be regulated by special legislation.” The Armed Forces (Military and Reserve Service) Act accordingly permits Salvadorans over the age of 16 to present themselves voluntarily at recruitment and reserve centres for enlistment into military service, and allows the centres to accept such volunteers in the light of the needs of the service.
It may be inferred from the above that El Salvador is considering measures to prevent children from taking part in hostilities; Salvadoran law even establishes a higher age for such participation than that laid down in article 38 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (15 years), and is thus consistent with the [Optional] Protocol [on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict]. 
El Salvador, Written replies to the Committee on the Rights of the Child concerning the list of issues formulated by the Committee on the Rights of the Child in connection with its consideration of the initial report of El Salvador under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, UN Doc. CRC/C/OPAC/SLV/Q/1/Add.1, 12 May 2006, p. 4.
[emphasis in original]
In 2006, during the consideration of the initial report of El Salvador under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict before the Committee on the Rights of the Child, a representative of El Salvador stated:
Even if the law on military service and the reserve armed forces foresees the possibility for minors between the ages of 16 and 18 to undertake voluntary military service, since 2000, military authorities have internally decided to no longer accept any such request. Thus there are no recruits under the age of 18. 
El Salvador, Statement before the Committee on the Rights of the Child during the consideration of the initial report of El Salvador under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, 19 May 2006, UN Doc. CRC/C/SR.1122, 19 May 2006, § 12.

Finland
At the 27th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent in 1999, Finland pledged “to promote the adoption of national and international standards prohibiting the military recruitment … in armed conflicts of persons under 18 years of age”. 
Finland, Pledge made at the 27th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, Geneva, 31 October–6 November 1999.

In 2003, in its fifth periodic report to the Human Rights Committee, Finland stated: “The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict entered into force for Finland on 1 July 1997.” 
Finland, Fifth periodic report to the Human Rights Committee, 24 July 2003, UN Doc. CCPR/C/FIN/2003/5, submitted 17 June 2003, § 331.

In 2003, in its third periodic report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Finland stated:
517. Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict. The Optional Protocol took effect in Finland on 10 May 2002 (Treaty Series 31/2002). The Protocol concerns armed conflicts, for which Finland is prepared by means of compulsory military service. By virtue of the Conscription Act (452/1950), all Finnish men are liable for military service to be able to defend their country and the legal social order. The Act on Women’s Voluntary Military Service (194/1995) lays down provisions on the preconditions under which a woman can be accepted to do voluntary military service.
518. The minimum age of conscripts was lowered by an Act (364/2000) in May 2000. According to the amendment, a person is allowed to start also voluntary military service only after he or she has attained 18 years of age. A corresponding amendment has been made to the Act on Women’s Voluntary Military Service (365/2000). Consequently, persons who have not reached 18 years of age are not recruited to combat.
519. When the ratification instrument to the Protocol was deposited, Finland submitted a statement based on article 3, paragraph 2, of the Protocol that Finland requires that all persons recruited to serve in the national armed forces are at least 18 years of age and that the minimum age requirement applies to both men’s compulsory military service and women’s voluntary military service. Finland will submit its initial report on the implementation of the provisions of the Protocol in May 2004. 
Finland, Third periodic report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, 5 January 2005, UN Doc. CRC/C/129/Add.5, submitted 26 November 2003, §§ 517–519; see also § 25.

In 2004, in its initial report to the Committee on the Rights of Child under Article 8(1) of the 2000 Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, Finland stated:
II. INFORMATION RELATING TO ARTICLES 1–7 OF THE OPTIONAL PROTOCOL
Article 1
Legislative measures to prohibit the involvement of children in direct hostilities
3. In Finnish legislation, the obligation to participate in national defence is laid down in the Constitution. According to section 127 of the Constitution of Finland (731/1999), every Finnish citizen is obligated to participate or assist in national defence, as provided by a legislative act. Chapter 7 (a) of the Military Service Act (1728/1991) lays down provisions on non-armed service, and a separate Civilian Service Act (1723/1991) has been issued concerning civilian service.
4. By virtue of section 1 of the Military Service Act, all Finnish men are liable for military service to defend their native country and the legal social order. The Act on Women’s Voluntary Military Service (194/1995) lays down provisions concerning the requirements that have to be met by women who want to do voluntary military service that corresponds to conscription. The minimum age of conscripts, stated in the Military Service Act, was amended by an Act (364/2000), according to which voluntary military service can also start when the person has attained 18 years of age (sect. 31). A similar amendment was made to section 1 of the Act on Voluntary Military Service for Women (365/2000).
5. Since a person must have attained 18 years of age before he/she can start conscript service or service on a voluntary basis, the Finnish Defence Forces do not have members aged under 18 years, as specified in article 1 of the Protocol. The full age of conscripts is ensured by a system, based on personal data obtained directly from the population register, according to which persons of a certain age group are called up. In the call-up, the person’s identity is checked either from an official identity card or by asking certain identifying questions, based on the information in the population register. A person’s identity is also verified at the start of military service.
6. In accordance with chapter 11, section 1, paragraph 3 (578/1995) of the Finnish Penal Code, a person who in an act of war violates the provisions of an international agreement binding on Finland or the generally acknowledged and established rules and customs of war under public international law, shall be sentenced for a war crime. By virtue of the Finnish Penal Code, recruitment of a person under the age of 18 years during hostilities would be deemed a war crime.
Article 2
Compulsory recruitment
7. Finnish legislation does not allow, even in a state of emergency, the recruitment of persons under 18 years of age into the armed forces, as referred to in this article.
8. In Finland, the provisions concerning offence against a person’s liberty, issued in chapter 25 (578/1995) of the Penal Code, can be applied to possible cases of compulsory recruitment.
Article 3
Minimum age for voluntary recruitment
9. In connection with the submission of the instruments of ratification, Finland deposited a declaration according to which it requires that all persons recruited in to the national armed forces must have reached at least 18 years of age and that the minimum age applies to both men’s compulsory military service and women’s voluntary military service. 
Finland, Initial report to the Committee on the Rights of Child under Article 8(1) of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, 10 March 2005, UN Doc. CRC/C/OPAC/FIN/1, submitted 1 June 2004, §§ 3–9.

France
In 2003, upon ratification of the 2000 Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, France made the following declaration:
France hereby declares that it recruits only volunteers aged at least 17 who have been informed of the rights and duties involved in military service and that the enlistment of recruits under the age of 18 is valid only with the consent of their legal representatives. 
France, Declaration made upon ratification of the 2000 Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, 5 February 2003.

In 2003, in its second periodic report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, France stated:
France is very active in the development of instruments relating to the rights of the child. It actively supported the adoption of the Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography … and on involvement of children in armed conflicts. 
France, Second periodic report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, 9 October 2003, UN Doc. CRC/C/65/Add.26, submitted 1 August 2002, § 87.

In 2006, in its initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the 2000 Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, France stated:
Article 1 - Direct participation in hostilities
4. Under article 20, paragraph 4, Act No. 2005-270 of 24 March 2005, the Members of the Armed Forces (General Regulations) Act, no one who is not at least 17 years of age may become a member of the armed forces. In fact, no minor below the age of 18 participates in operations abroad, both because of the length of the probationary period (six months) and because of the initial training given (four to seven months minimum depending on the area of training).

Article 2 - Compulsory recruitment
6. Act No. 97-1019 of 28 October 1997 on national service reform brought conscription in France to an end. Article 1 of the Act added a new article L. 112-2 to the National Service Code, which suspends conscription “for all French persons born after 31 December 1978 and those within the same group on the register”. This article specifies, however, that conscription “shall be reinstated at any moment by law, when the conditions for the defence of the nation or the objectives laid down for the armed forces so require”.
7. Minors cannot in any event be affected by any reinstatement of national service. The currently suspended article L. 3 of the National Service Code provides that “male French citizens must perform their national service between the ages of 18 and 50”.
Article 3 - Voluntary recruitment
Minimum age
8. At the time of ratification of the Protocol, France deposited a binding declaration stating that “France declares that it recruits only volunteers aged at least 17 who have been informed of the rights and duties involved in military service, and that the enlistment of recruits under the age of 18 is valid only with the consent of their legal representatives”. The general staff and the legal services of the Ministry of Defence jointly drew up this binding declaration, which lists the protective measures France has taken in relation to the recruitment of minors for military service, whether French or of other nationality (Foreign Legion).
9. Accordingly, under article 20, paragraph 4, of the Members of the Armed Forces (General Regulations) Act, “no one who is not at least 17 years of age may become a member of the armed forces – 16 years of age in order to receive general and vocational training as a volunteer in the armed forces or as a pupil in a military school”. Persons aged under 16 cannot, under any circumstances, take part in activities other than those which form part of general and vocational training.
10. In accordance with article 83, paragraph 1, of the Act, persons wishing to serve in the Foreign Legion are eligible only if they are aged at least 17.
Safeguards relating to voluntary recruitment other than to the Foreign Legion
11. In accordance with article 3, paragraph 3, of the Protocol, French legislation provides for a specific voluntary recruitment procedure for under-age members of the armed forces. It is necessary to ensure not only that unemancipated minors actually desire to be recruited, but also that their legal representatives consent (article 20 of the Act).
Specific safeguards relating to voluntary recruitment to the Foreign Legion
12. Regarding members of the armed forces of other nationalities, article 83, paragraph 2, of the Act provides that unemancipated minors must, in principle, give evidence of their identity and the consent of their legal representative.
13. The military authorities can accept the enlistment of a candidate in the absence of the necessary supporting documents only in exceptional cases and after detailed administrative inquiry into the candidate’s background, in collaboration with the authorities of the country of origin.
14. Everything is done to verify the age of the candidates during the phase prior to the conclusion of a recruitment contract, which is known as the “selection and recruitment phase”. The need for written parental authorization for the recruitment of any minor facilitates verification. Moreover, interviews offer an opportunity to investigate the identity and past of the candidates and thus confirm their real age.
15. Where the candidates do not have the necessary supporting documents, they must in practice provide information which can be verified. Their files are then subjected to detailed scrutiny so that the candidates can be identified without risk of error or confusion. Precise knowledge of the identity of each candidate is the foundation for all recruitment.
16. In the case of real or serious doubts about the age of a candidate, even when all other conditions for recruitment have been fulfilled, the application is deferred. This procedure allows the candidate to reapply for recruitment at a later date.
17. Finally, the consequences of a fraudulent declaration at the time of recruitment act as deterrents. When minors misrepresent their age in order to be recruited, and, as a result, bypass the necessary parental authorization, they risk automatic termination of their contracts. It is then impossible for them to undergo the recruitment process again.
18. The Foreign Legion, when accepting the recruitment of a candidate, “accepts his or her past”. Through their statements, candidates must supply established and reliable information, which is systematically checked by the Foreign Legion’s Statistics and Protection Division. The moral responsibility borne by the Foreign Legion requires that candidates who volunteer to serve France show complete transparency as to their identity and their past.
19. For information purposes, the Foreign Legion does not currently number any minors within its ranks, despite the possibility of recruitment from the age of 17. Furthermore, the recruitment of under-age candidates is an altogether marginal phenomenon within Foreign Legion recruitment. Around 7,500 candidates on average apply for recruitment each year to fill the 1,000 posts available. The recruitment of minors accounts for at most only two to four enlistments a year.
Military schools
20. Several schools that fall directly under the Ministry of Defence provide secondary education to minors; however, such schools are not considered to be military schools, insofar as they do not provide military training. The Air Force Technical Training School is a military school that accepts minors who wish to become air force NCO technicians. The school is open to pupils from the age of 15, but they can sign up for military recruitment only from their sixteenth birthday, for the purpose of receiving general and vocational training, in accordance with the provisions of the Members of the Armed Forces (General Regulations) Act. For information purposes, 177 under-age members of the armed forces were recruited to the School in 2005. This figure is identical to that of 2004.
Article 4 - Armed groups distinct from the armed forces
21. The French Government does not have any particular information to convey regarding article 4 of the Protocol, as there are no active armed groups distinct from the national army in France.
22. Because of its deep involvement in the campaign against the recruitment of child soldiers, the Government keeps a close watch on the possible recruitment of minors by foreign armed groups on French territory.

Article 7 - Financial assistance and technical cooperation among States
26. France is involved in assistance and cooperation on the issue of children in armed conflicts both at the United Nations and within the European Union.
Activities within the framework of the United Nations Security Council
27. On numerous occasions since 1999 France has campaigned for the United Nations Security Council to put the issue of children in armed conflicts on its agenda. The Council has adopted six resolutions in this field relative to the recruitment of child soldiers: a call for the demobilization of children, the creation of a “blacklist” of parties to armed conflicts which recruit or use child soldiers, laying of the groundwork for targeted sanctions, the creation of a monitoring mechanism, the immediate implementation of the monitoring mechanism and the creation of a working group. 
France, Initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, UN Doc. CRC/C/OPAC/FRA/1, 6 November 2006, submitted 26 September 2006, §§ 4, 6–22 and 26–27.

In 2008, the Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of France stated:
The tragedy of child soldiers forces us to be determined and uncompromising. In spite of the countless and inevitable difficulties, of which we are all aware, our sole objective should be the eradication of this barbarous phenomenon.

The establishment in 2005 of the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict has already made it possible for us to act. That innovative and profoundly original mechanism – in which France had a major role in establishing and over which we have had the honour to preside since its inception – has resulted in tangible progress. Thousands of children have been freed and returned to civilian life – especially in Burundi, Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and numerous other countries, which I shall forego naming. Recommendations have been made with regard to 10 of the 12 situations on the agenda. The Working Group will soon take up the last two pending cases, namely, those of the Philippines and Colombia. Lastly, for the first time, we are going to remove a country from that sad list — Côte d’Ivoire.

In spite of those significant successes, I do not wish to give the impression that all the problems are being resolved. We still have much to do. There is the reappearance of children in the battlefields of Sri Lanka, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burma. I recently visited those countries, and I could tell of the horror still fresh in my mind.
Just today, the Central African Republic and Afghanistan were placed on the list of situations of concern. There are many things to remind us daily of the forever unfinished nature of this struggle. As always, the international community must remain mobilized and redouble its efforts.
France would in particular like to see a strengthening of the deterrent character of the Working Group. Its members must not shy away from adopting strong targeted sanctions. Otherwise, what are we here for? This is an issue that pertains to its credibility. There is no credible deterrence without real sanctions.
International criminal justice — the International Criminal Court or other special tribunals — has made essential progress this year through remarkable actions, especially against Germain Katanga, Charles Taylor and Colonel Mathieu Ngudjolo, among others, charging them with the use and recruitment of children under the age of 15 …
… The Slovene presidency of the European Union has decided to make children in armed conflict its priority in the area of human rights, a decision about which I am delighted.
France, for its part, organized together with UNICEF, in February 2007, a ministerial conference entitled “Free Children from War,” at which 59 countries signed on to the Paris Commitments to protect children unlawfully recruited or used by armed forces or armed groups, a collection of principles and good practices that will, we hope, significantly strengthen our efforts. Following that success, we organized, again together with UNICEF, a ministerial follow-up conference in October 2007, at which seven more countries joined the Paris Commitments. 
France, Statement by the Minister of Foreign and European Affairs on “Children and Armed Conflict” before the UN Security Council, 12 February 2008, pp. 22–24.

In 2009, the Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of France, in a political statement calling for the respect for international humanitarian law and giving examples of serious violations that had recently happened in several armed conflicts around the world, stated: “Children, some less than 10 years old, are enlisted as soldiers as well as sex slaves.” 
France, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, “The Savaging of Humanitarian Law”, New York Times, 28 January 2009, p. 2.

Germany
In 2003, during a debate in the UN Security Council, the representative of Germany stated:
“Helpless outrage is a characteristic emotion of the global age”, a journalist writing about child war amputees from Freetown recently observed. I think that all of us feel outrage at the devastating effect of armed conflict on children. We are outraged at the cynicism and cruelty of adults who steal the childhood of boys and girls by making them fight in their wars.
The Council is one of the few bodies in the world that does not have to confine itself to “helpless outrage”. The Council can act. Germany is very pleased at the coincidence that its first public address to the Council should deal with children and armed conflict. This issue belongs firmly on the Council’s agenda. Germany will do whatever it can to ensure that we do not stop at debate but also take action …
We thank the Secretary-General, Mr. Olara Otunnu and Ms. Carol Bellamy for their opening remarks and for their reminders that we need practical and concrete progress on the pressing issues facing us.
Germany welcomes this year’s report by the Secretary-General.
We believe it is an outspoken and focused report. We are pleased with the forthright manner in which the Special Representative has taken up the task entrusted to him by the Council to name those countries that recruit or use children in armed conflict in violation of their international obligations. We especially welcome the fact that the report is not limited to those five countries that are currently on the Council’s agenda. This has ensured that many of the worst offenders, including the worst offender, have been brought to the Council’s attention. We give our express encouragement to the Special Representative to continue to report on child soldier recruitment in any conflict, without any geographic or other restrictions.
At the time of the last open debate on this item, in November 2001, the Secretary-General had rightly pointed out that we needed to enter an era of application. Application is even more urgent today than it was then. The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has come into force. It lists the conscription, enlistment or use in hostilities of children under the age of 15 as a war crime. We urge all States to ratify the ICC Statute and thus to join hands in the fight against impunity from crimes that shock the consciences of all. The entry into force of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict also constitutes a milestone on the road to ending recruitment of child soldiers.
Germany fully supports the Special Representative’s call for a vigorous monitoring effort by the United Nations to ensure that States fulfil their international obligations. The list annexed to this report is an important starting point. However, monitoring will only succeed if those who refuse to cooperate and to act upon their international obligations face consequences. We support every effort of the Council to add bite to these monitoring efforts. And we support Olara Otunnu’s concept of systematic monitoring as a trigger for action, as just set out in his opening remarks. 
Germany, Statement before the UN Security Council, UN Doc. S/PV.4684, 14 January 2003, p. 8.

In 2004, in a speech at the UN Commission on Human Rights, Germany’s Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs stated:
The rights of the child are also still subject to serious abuse around the world. Notwithstanding the almost universal ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, millions of children are still subject to violence every day.
Child labour, the recruitment of child soldiers, trafficking in children and child prostitution must be countered as resolutely as other previously ignored forms of abuse, such as domestic violence against children. The implementation of children’s rights must thus continue to have top priority for us all. 
Germany, Speech by Joschka Fischer, Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs, at the UN Commission on Human Rights, 15 March 2004.

In 2004, in a declaration made upon ratification of the 2000 Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, Germany stated:
The Federal Republic of Germany declares that it considers a minimum age of 17 years to be binding for the voluntary recruitment of soldiers into its armed forces under the terms of Article 3 paragraph 2 of the Optional Protocol. Persons under the age of 18 years shall be recruited into the armed forces solely for the purpose of commencing military training.
The protection of voluntary recruits under the age of 18 years in connection with their decision to join the armed forces is ensured by the need to obtain the consent of their legal guardian and the indispensable requirement that they present an identification card or passport as a reliable proof of their age. 
Germany, Declaration made upon ratification of the 2000 Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, 13 December 2004.

In 2004, during a debate in the UN Security Council, the representative of Germany stated:
Many children without protection are being kidnapped and made child soldiers. Pressing children into military duty rather than letting them develop peacefully is one of the most short-sighted and cruel acts anyone can commit. Even apart from the cruelty involved, it will have a long-term negative impact. In that regard, I should like to recall Council resolution 1539 (2004) and the preceding relevant resolutions. 
Germany, Statement before the UN Security Council, UN Doc. S/PV.5100, 14 December 2004, p. 19.

In 2005, in its Seventh Human Rights Policy Report, Germany’s Federal Government reported to the Bundestag (Lower House of Parliament):
Germany actively participated in the negotiations on the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict … Germany ratified the Protocol in 2004.
The Optional Protocol raises the minimum age for the participation in hostilities from so far 15 to now 18 years and prohibits the compulsory recruitment of persons who have not attained the age of 18 years. Article 3, paragraph 2 of the Optional Protocol 2 provides that all States Party shall deposit a binding declaration upon ratification that sets forth the minimum age at which they will permit voluntary recruitment into its national armed forces. Armed groups, in contrast to States, may in any case only recruit persons from the age of 18 years, i.e. this minimum age also applies to volunteers.
States thereby become accountable. That route was followed consciously, in order to make it possible for States to sign the Protocol[…] at the millennium summit; the discussion whether a State fixes its minimum age for voluntary recruitment at 18, 17 or even 16 years was thereby postponed to the time of ratification. Until the completion of the reform of the Federal Armed Forces, the compromise found within the Federal Government lays down the current rule, which provides for the enrolment of volunteers from the age of 17 years.

3. Priorities of the German human rights policy 2005–2006

3.10. Protecting children from violence and exploitation

On the basis of the 2003 EU Guidelines on Children and Armed Conflict and the relating 2004 Plan of Action, [the Federal Government] together with its EU partners will work towards better protection of children in armed conflict, and to this purpose
- will demand respect for international humanitarian law and for other norms on the protection of children in armed conflicts;
- will, in multi- and bilateral dialogues, request States which have not yet ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict to do so. 
Germany, Federal Government, Seventh Human Rights Policy Report, 17 June 2005, pp. 73 and 203.

In 2007, in its initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the 2000 Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, Germany stated:
1. The fight against recruitment of child soldiers is an important concern within the Federal Government’s international human rights policy. The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict plays a crucial role therein. Germany took an active part in negotiating the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict. Hence the Federal Republic of Germany already signed the Optional Protocol in the year 2000, and it was ratified in 2004.
2. Both in the United Nations and in the European Union (EU) context as well as bilaterally, the Federal Government firmly supports an improvement in the protection of children in armed conflicts, including implementation of the Optional Protocol and its application if possible on a worldwide basis.

Article 1
10. On deposit of the instrument of ratification, Germany made the following declaration:
The Federal Republic of Germany hereby declares that it regards a minimum age of 17 years as binding for commencement of voluntary service as a soldier in its armed forces within the meaning of article 3, paragraph 2, of the Optional Protocol. Persons under 18 years of age are recruited to the armed forces solely for the purpose of beginning military training.
Protection of volunteers under the age of 18 years, within the context of their decision to enter the armed forces, is ensured, inter alia, by virtue of the consent that has to be given by their statutory representatives and by the mandatory requirement of presentation of their identity card or passport as reliable proof of their age.
11. This means that volunteers under the age of 18 years are not allowed to perform any functions outside military training, meaning functions where they could be forced to use arms. In particular, they are not allowed to be deployed for armed guard duty. The use of arms by volunteers is to be confined in the case of volunteers under the age of 18 years solely to training and is to be placed under strict supervision.
12. In a letter dated 9 September 2004 from the State Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Defence (annex I) this directive was transmitted to the Bundeswehr (Federal Armed Forces) via the Director of the Armed Forces Staff.
13. Reference is also made in this letter to the existing directive by virtue of which volunteers under 18 years of age are under no circumstances allowed to be involved in Bundeswehr (Federal Armed Forces) operations.
Article 2
14. Pursuant to section 1, subsection (1), of the Conscription Act, all men are liable to military service upon reaching the age of 18 years. However, the Conscription Act gives young men with German nationality the opportunity, on attaining the age of 17 years, to make an application for early recruitment to basic military service (sect. 5 (1a)). Consent of the conscript’s statutory representative is needed for this. The same requirement applies when a 17-year-old is commissioned with the service status of temporary-career volunteer.
15. The first step of so-called military ascertainment is the pre-induction examination. This examination will decide whether, and if so for which tours of duty, a conscript can be brought in for deployment in the armed forces. Pursuant to section 16, subsection (3), of the Conscription Act, the pre-induction examination takes place at the earliest six months before attainment of the age of 18 years; so far as an application has been made, with the consent of the applicant’s statutory representative, for early recruitment to basic military service, this examination may take place six months before the applicant has attained the age of 17 years.
Article 3
16. Since on principle it is permissible in Germany to recruit volunteers for service in the armed forces as soon as they have attained the age of 17 years, it is mandatory to apply the safeguards pursuant to article 3, paragraph 3, of the Optional Protocol. This happens in Germany as set out as follows:
- Regarding subparagraphs 3 (a) and (b): pursuant to section 5, subsection (1a), of the Conscription Act, the military recruitment authorities (i.e. authorities entrusted, inter alia, with the pre-induction examination, recruitment to military service and monitoring, of persons liable to military service) are under an obligation to restrict conscription – for the purpose of undergoing basic military service – only to such persons under the age of 18 years who have already attained the age of 17 years and who have also made the relevant application with the consent of their statutory representative. This restriction has been made the focus of attention in a directive issued by the Federal Ministry of Defence to all military recruitment authorities. There is general awareness of this restriction on the part of the military recruitment authorities. The application and the statutory representative’s declaration of consent are placed on record in the personnel files;
- Regarding subparagraph 3 (c): when the pre-induction examination has taken place and availability for military service has been ascertained, applicants who are still minors will be given an instruction sheet by the military recruitment authority (annex II), giving them comprehensive information on the duties involved in military service. In particular, their attention is drawn to the fact that the use of arms is confined solely to training and that there is no question of their being placed on armed guard duty. In addition to this, each military formation deploying a conscript who has not yet attained the age of 18 years is given a special instruction letter containing information from the military recruitment authority to the effect that, in accordance with the Optional Protocol, the conscript is not to be brought into operations that might foreseeably lead to armed conflicts (annex III). Corresponding orders ensure that minors will, in no event, take part in hostilities;
- Regarding subparagraph 3 (d): through a directive issued by the Federal Ministry of Defence, it is ensured that, at the pre-induction examination, a person liable to military service has to present proof of his identity by producing an identity card or a passport. This ensures that reliable proof of age is provided before commencement of service.
Articles 4 to 6
17. The situation described in article 4 does not exist in the Federal Republic of Germany.
18. Given that German law already corresponds to the provisions of the Optional Protocol, implementation has been confined to the directives, enclosed in the annex, where explicit reference is made to the Optional Protocol. 
Germany, Initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, UN Doc. CCPR/C/OPAC/DEU/1, 17 April 2007, submitted 5 January 2007, §§ 1–2 and 10–18.

In 2008, in a statement before the Committee on the Rights of the Child during the consideration of the initial report of Germany under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, a representative of Germany stated:
5. The minimum age for voluntary enlistment in the German armed forces had been set at 17 in order to make it possible for young people to join up directly after leaving school, thus avoiding protracted waiting periods during which they would be left without any productive activity. There were currently 472 soldiers aged 17; 263 were temporary career volunteers, which meant that they had enlisted for two years or longer, and 209 were basic military service conscripts, who had signed up for nine months. Soldiers under 18 were not allowed to carry weapons. They could not be deployed anywhere where there was a risk of armed conflict, and could not be used for guard duty, as that would involve carrying a weapon. They only came into contact with weapons when they were in training, and thus under supervision, and when the exercises were finished they returned their weapons. The alternative report that had been submitted to the Committee by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) unfortunately depicted that situation in a somewhat misleading light. In any event, the author of that report had stated that he did not consider Germany to have violated its international obligations under articles 1 and 2 of the Optional Protocol. Notwithstanding implications to the contrary in the alternative report, the minimum age of 17 was established in a publicly accessible decree, which had appeared in the Federal Law Gazette.
6. Soldiers aged 17 were able to leave the military without having to justify their decision. They could do so either by making use of revocation or withdrawal mechanisms, or by attaining the status of conscientious objectors. Persons under the age of 18 could not join the military without the consent of both parents or their legal guardians.
7. In accordance with the Code of Crimes against International Law and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, Germany recognized extraterritorial jurisdiction for the war crime of recruitment of children under the age of 15. 
Germany, Statement by the delegation of Germany before the Committee on the Rights of the Child during the consideration of the initial report of Germany under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, 24 January 2008, §§ 5–7.

In 2010, in its third and fourth periodic reports to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Germany stated:
[T]he Federal Republic of Germany declared when depositing the ratification document that the commencement of voluntary service as a soldier in the armed forces is permissible from the age of 17 onwards. Persons under the age of 18 are recruited into the armed forces solely for the purpose of commencing military training. … The protection of under-18 volunteers on their decision to enter the armed forces is ensured inter alia by the need to obtain the consent of their legal guardian and the indispensable requirement that they present an identification card or passport as reliable proof of their age. 
Germany, Third and fourth periodic reports to the Committee on the Rights the Child, 11 September 2012, UN Doc. CRC/C/DEU/3-4, submitted 10 October 2010, § 262.

Greece
In 2004, in its initial report to the Human Rights Committee, Greece stated:
293. In order to confront these heinous criminal activities more effectively and ensure sufficient and comprehensive assistance to the victims, the Greek Parliament adopted Law 3064/2002 on “Combating trafficking in human beings, crimes against sexual freedom, child pornography and more generally on economic exploitation of sexual life and assistance to the victims thereof”.
294. The new law provides for a more severe punishment of all contemporary forms of human trafficking – such as the … recruitment of minors for the purpose of using them in armed conflicts – whereas special emphasis is given to the protection of minors, women and aliens. … Severe penalties, in some cases even life imprisonment, are imposed on the perpetrators of the aforementioned crimes. The competent Public Prosecutor may prosecute the alleged perpetrators of the most important of the aforementioned crimes proprio motu. Article 8 of the Criminal Code is amended to enshrine the crimes of human trafficking and sexual abuse, so as for the perpetrators of such crimes to be prosecuted and punished, even if they have committed the aforementioned crimes in the territory of another country. 
Greece, Initial report to the Human Rights Committee, 5 April 2004, UN Doc. CCPR/C/GRC/2004/1, 15 April 2004, §§ 293–294.

In 2005, during a debate in the UN Security Council on children in armed conflict, the Permanent Representative of Greece stated:
[T]he Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child provides that no one under the age of 18 should be recruited by any army. All States must become Parties and must implement the provisions of this Protocol. Greece has ratified the above Protocol and as a EU member State is also committed to the implementation of the EU guidelines on Children and Armed Conflict adopted in 2003. 
Greece, Statement by the Greek Permanent Representative, UN Security Council, Open Debate on Children in Armed Conflict, 23 February 2005.

Guatemala
In 2002, upon ratification of the 2000 Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, Guatemala declared:
Guatemala shall not permit the compulsory recruitment of persons under 18 years of age into its armed forces, and, in keeping with article 3, paragraph 4, of the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, the description of the safeguards it has adopted to ensure that such recruitment is not forced or coerced shall be submitted at a later date. 
Guatemala, Declaration made upon ratification of the 2000 Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, 9 May 2002.

In 2006, in its initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, Guatemala stated:
4. For 36 years, Guatemala was the scene of an internal armed conflict which ended with the signing of the Agreement on a Firm and Lasting Peace between the Government and the Unidad Revolucionaria Nacional Guatemalteca (URNG) in 1996. The participation of children and young persons in the war can thus be analysed by focusing on two periods, the first covering nearly four decades of internal armed conflict (1960–1996) and the second covering the period from the signing of the peace agreement to the present.
5. In this context, it must be acknowledged that during the war, forcible military recruitment was common practice both for the national army and the guerrilla groups that made up the Unidad Revolucionaria Nacional Guatemalteca. According to both the official report of the Commission for Historical Clarification, established under the peace agreements, and the reports of non-governmental organizations and indigenous movements, such as the National Coordinating Committee of Guatemalan Widows (CONAVIGUA), during the internal armed conflict some 45 per cent of the male population was recruited at some time by one or other of the parties to the conflict, and 20 per cent of those recruited were minors.
6. Before the peace agreement was signed, Guatemala’s domestic legislation did not include a law that afforded children comprehensive protection or outlawed their involvement in armed conflicts, even though the State was already a party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which it ratified in May 1990, and other international humanitarian law instruments. Nevertheless, the legislation in force at the time clearly specified that only those persons who had attained the age of majority, set at 18, could enlist in the army. In practice, however, the parties to the conflict, in contravention of the law, did use persons under the age of 18 in the war.

8. Unfortunately, there are no official records of the exact percentage of minors who participated in the war, either in the army or in guerrilla forces. Nevertheless, since it is the responsibility of the State to ensure that this practice is not allowed for any reason, as well as to enforce the law, one of the important measures which took immediate effect following the signing of the peace agreement was the express order issued by the then President of the Republic, Ramiro de León Carpio, in his capacity as commander-in-chief of the army, not to allow anyone at all under the age of 18 to enlist, even if they volunteered. In compliance with the order, the Minister of Defence gave orders to all military commanders in the country to enforce the presidential order. The provision has remained in force since then, and we can therefore guarantee that in Guatemala there is currently no provision for, or systematic practice of, enlisting anyone under the age of 18 in the army.
9. The Comprehensive Agreement on Human Rights, the first agreement signed between the Government and the Unidad Revolucionaria Nacional Guatemalteca in 1994, entered into force before the peace agreement was signed and established a framework for protection which included child protection measures, thereby demonstrating the Guatemalan Government’s commitment to ensuring that enlistment in the armed forces would be voluntary until a new law on military service was adopted. 
Guatemala, Initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, 17 July 2006, UN Doc. CRC/C/OPAC/GTM/1, submitted 17 May 2006, §§ 4–6 and 8–9.

Guatemala further stated: “In order to be admitted to the armed forces, Guatemalan men and women must produce their residence card, in order to prove that they have reached the minimum age for joining up, which is 18 years.” 
Guatemala, Initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, 17 July 2006, UN Doc. CRC/C/OPAC/GTM/1, submitted 17 May 2006, § 56; see also § 67.

Guatemala also stated:
Regarding the binding declaration to be made by all States parties to the Optional Protocol, on 30 April 2002, Guatemala made its declaration in the instrument ratifying the Optional Protocol, where it indicated that:
Guatemala shall not permit the compulsory recruitment of persons under 18 years of age into its armed forces, and in keeping with article 3, paragraph 4, of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict, the description of the safeguards adopted to ensure that such recruitment is not forced or coerced shall be submitted at a later date. 
Guatemala, Initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, 17 July 2006, UN Doc. CRC/C/OPAC/GTM/1, submitted 17 May 2006, § 7.

In 2007, in response to a list of issues raised by the Committee on the Rights of the Child relating to its consideration of the initial report of Guatemala under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, Guatemala stated in response to a question on whether it intends to include in the Criminal Code a provision that expressly prohibits the recruitment of children under 18 years:
To date no proposal has been drafted on the subject. At present the legal provisions adopted to criminalize the recruitment of children fall within the framework of the statutory offences set out in the Criminal Code, in article 209, “Abduction of minors”; article 418, “Abuse of power”; and article 423, “Decisions violating the Constitution”. 
Guatemala, Written replies concerning a list of issues raised by the Committee on the Rights of the Child relating to its consideration of the initial report of Guatemala under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, UN Doc. CRC/C/OPAC/GTM/Q/1/Add.1, 23 April 2007, § 2.

Guinea
At the 27th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent in 1999, Guinea pledged “to promote the adoption of national and international standards prohibiting the military recruitment … in armed conflicts of persons under 18 years of age”. 
Guinea, Pledge made at the 27th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, Geneva, 31 October–6 November 1999.

In 2009, in its second periodic report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Guinea stated:
471. Guinea has been greatly affected by the civil wars in Liberia and Sierra Leone that have raged since 24 December 1989. …

475. This situation has also given rise to child trafficking and separated children from their families. A study conducted in November 1999 by the International Rescue Committee (IRC) has helped to identify and document 252 separated children on the streets of Conakry. These children were separated from their families following rebel incursions into border areas, resulting in a sadly unknown number of Guinean and refugee children being abducted and forcibly recruited into the rebel forces and turned into child soldiers. 
Guinea, Second periodic report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, 18 April 2012, UN Doc. CRC/C/GIN/2, submitted 24 December 2009, §§ 471 and 475.

Hungary
In 2004, in its second periodic report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Hungary stated:
Act CX of 1993 on national defence, article 70, provides that based on universal conscription, all men of Hungarian citizenship and all men who live in the territory of the Republic of Hungary are liable to military service. Universal conscription starts at the age of 17. Thus, Hungarian legislation complies with the provisions of the Convention [on the Rights of the Child]. The Representative of the Republic of Hungary signed the Optional Protocol to the Convention of the Rights of the Child on 11 March 2002. 
Hungary, Second periodic report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, 24 May 2005, UN Doc. CRC/C/70/Add.25, submitted 17 February 2004, § 503; see also § 88.

Iceland
At the 27th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent in 1999, Iceland pledged “to promote the adoption of national and international standards prohibiting the military recruitment … in armed conflicts of persons under 18 years of age”. 
Iceland, Pledge made at the 27th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, Geneva, 31 October–6 November 1999.

Ireland
In 2006, in its initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, Ireland stated:
13. Under Defence Forces Regulations and Administrative Instructions, the minimum age for “general service enlistment” to all branches of the Irish Defence Forces is 17 years of age. …
14. There is one exception to the legal minimum age of 17 provided for in military regulations. These regulations currently allow for the legal recruitment of “apprentices” who may be recruited specifically as apprentices from the age of 16 onwards. … Thus any apprentice recruit aged 16 at entry would be between 19 to 20 by the time they qualified in their technical/technological specialty. Apprentices are not assigned to any military duties at all until they have fully completed their specialist technical/technological training. 
Ireland, Initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, 5 February 2007, UN Doc. CRC/C/OPAC/IRL/1, submitted 1 December 2006, §§ 13–14.

In 2009, Ireland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, in a written response to a question on the situation in Sri Lanka, stated: “I believe that an independent review should consider the allegations of serious breaches of international humanitarian law in the course of the conflict, including … the forced conscription of … children into LTTE [Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam] units.”  
Ireland, Dáil Eireann (House of Deputies), Minister for Foreign Affairs, Written Answers –Foreign Conflicts (3), Dáil Eireann debate Vol. 690 No. 1, 23 September 2009.

Israel
In 2008, in its initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the 2000 Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, Israel stated: “The minimum age in which the State of Israel permits voluntary recruitment into its armed forces is 17 years of age”. 
Israel, Initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, 15 April 2009, UN Doc. CRC/C/OPAC/ISR/1, submitted 18 March 2008, § 5.

Israel further stated: “There are no legal options to lower the recruitment age, in times of emergency”. 
Israel, Initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, 15 April 2009, UN Doc. CRC/C/OPAC/ISR/1, submitted 18 March 2008, § 27.

Italy
In 1996, during a debate in the UN Security Council on the situation in Liberia, Italy described the warlords’ practice of recruiting children for combat as “one of the most despicable actions”. It insisted that the international community should use every means available to stop such behaviour immediately, notably the inclusion of a provision in the future ICC Statute aimed at “bring[ing] to justice the perpetrators of such intolerable acts”. 
Italy, Statement before the UN Security Council, UN Doc. S/PV.3694, 30 August 1996, p. 6.

Liberia
In 2009, in its combined second, third and fourth periodic reports to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Liberia stated: “The new law on armed forces prescribes that no person below 18 should be recruited into armed forces, a requirement that will be repeated in the Children’s Law.” 
Liberia, Combined second, third and fourth periodic reports to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, 9 November 2011, UN Doc. CRC/C/LBR/2-4, submitted 5 August 2009, § 299.
(footnote in original omitted)
Liberia further explained:
In line with the law, the armed forces in Liberia are prohibited from recruiting children under 18. The Children’s Law will further create a first-degree felony if a person recruits or enlists any child for purposes of engaging in or supporting violent conflict. The Ministry of Defence, further, has established a children’s protection unit. 
Liberia, Combined second, third and fourth periodic reports to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, 9 November 2011, UN Doc. CRC/C/LBR/2-4, submitted 5 August 2009, § 315.

Malaysia
In 2006, in its initial periodic report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Malaysia stated:
Chapter 2 of Part II [of] the Armed Forces Act 1972 [Act 77] states that a person below the age of seventeen and a half shall not be appointed as midshipman or cadet officer without the consent of his parents, and a recruiting officer shall not enlist any person under the age of seventeen and a half without the written consent of his parents. In practice, only persons eighteen years and above are recruited to join the Malaysian Armed Forces. 
Malaysia, Initial periodic report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, 22 December 2006, UN Doc. CRC/C/MYS/1, submitted 20 December 2006, § 325.

Mexico
At the 27th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent in 1999, Mexico pledged “to promote the adoption of national and international standards prohibiting the military recruitment … in armed conflicts of persons under 18 years of age”. 
Mexico, Pledge made at the 27th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, Geneva, 31 October–6 November 1999.

In 2008, in its initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the 2000 Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, Mexico stated:
22. In accordance with the provisions of the Optional Protocol, Mexicans who join the Mexican Army or Air Force on active service must be at least 18 years of age, except when enrolled in the military education system. There is no law obliging children under 18 years to enter active service with the armed forces …

32. The Government of Mexico, in compliance with article 3, paragraph 2, of the Optional Protocol, deposited a binding declaration setting forth the minimum age for the voluntary recruitment of its nationals into the armed forces as 18 years.

34. The minimum age requirement for voluntary recruitment is 18 years. Under article 24 of the Military Service Act, persons under 18 and over 16 years of age may be admitted to join the army, but only to be trained as technical operatives in signal units under contract with the State not exceeding 5 years. In such cases, the consent of the parent or guardian, an application in writing by the person concerned and his or her birth certificate are required.
35. The Protocol’s provision regarding recruitment of children by armed groups other than the armed forces does not apply in Mexico’s case, partly on account of the interpretative declaration referred to in paragraph 4 of this report and partly due to the fact that Mexico is not currently involved in any armed conflicts (internal or international), so that there is no recruitment or use of children by armed groups. 
Mexico, Initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, 7 January 2010, UN Doc. CRC/C/OPAC/MEX/1, submitted 7 October 2008, §§ 22 and 34–35.
[footnote in original omitted]
In 2009, during a debate in the UN Security Council on children and armed conflict, the permanent representative of Mexico stated:
We condemn all acts that jeopardize the integrity of children, such as … the recruitment … of child soldiers …

Mexico calls on the international community to strengthen its efforts to protect children, in particular, … to slow their recruitment and prevent their reincorporation into armed groups. 
Mexico, Statement by the permanent representative before the UN Security Council, 6114th meeting, UN Doc. S/PV.6114, 29 April 2009, p. 29.

In 2010, during a debate in the UN Security Council on children in armed conflict, Mexico’s Secretary of Foreign Affairs stated:
Mexico will continue to guide the work of the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict inclusively and with determination and transparency until the end of its mandate as non-permanent member of the Security Council.
We would like to focus on five aspects … [including] promoting the implementation of action plans aimed at ending the recruitment … of children. 
Mexico, Statement by the Secretary of Foreign Affairs before the UN Security Council, 6341th meeting, UN Doc. S/PV.6341, 16 June 2010, p. 13.

Mozambique
At the 27th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent in 1999, Mozambique pledged “to promote the adoption of national and international standards prohibiting the military recruitment … in armed conflicts of persons under 18 years of age” and “to ensure non-conscription of teenagers under 18 years old to join the army”. 
Mozambique, Pledge made at the 27th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, Geneva, 31 October–6 November 1999.

Nepal
In 2007, in its comments to the conclusions and recommendations of the Committee against Torture, Nepal stated:
No person under the age of 18 is recruited in the Nepal Army. … Since the United Nations Mission in Nepal has been entrusted with the task of monitoring and registration of the arms and combatants of the Maoists as per the [2006] Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the Government and Nepal Communist Party (Maoist), it is understandable that no child soldiers can remain in the Maoist side as well. 
Nepal, Comments by the Government of Nepal to the conclusions and recommendations of the Committee against Torture, 29 January 2008, UN Doc. CAT/C/NPL/CO/2/Add.1, submitted 1 June 2007, § 33.

Netherlands
Upon ratification of the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Netherlands stated that it was of the opinion that “the minimum age for the recruitment or incorporation of children in the armed forces should be above 15 years”. 
Netherlands, Reservations and declarations made upon ratification of the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child, 6 February 1995, reprinted in UN Doc. CRC/C/2/Rev.4, 28 July 1995, p. 27.

New Zealand
In 2008, in its combined third and fourth periodic reports to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, New Zealand stated:
It is prohibited by statute for any person younger than 17 years of age to be recruited into the Armed forces. Section 33(1) of the Defence Act 1990 was amended in 2001 and states: “No person who is under 17 years may be appointed to, or enlisted or engaged in, the Navy, the Army or the Air Force”. 
New Zealand, Third and fourth periodic reports to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, 14 June 2010, UN Doc. CRC/C/NZL/3-4, submitted 11 November 2008, § 424; see also §§ 111 and 481.

In 2009, in a statement before the UN Security Council, New Zealand’s Permanent Representative stated:
We thank the Secretary-General for his latest report … [concerning] Children and Armed Conflict.

[A]s we speak … children are being handed guns and told to fight …
Member States, the various organs of the United Nations, and this Security Council have a vital role to play to protect these children …
New Zealand welcomes … the fact that child protection enjoys a high profile on this Council’s agenda.
… While we welcome their highlighted listing in the Secretary-General’s latest report, it’s distressing that there are still 16 parties who, for at least five years, have recruited, killed, maimed, raped or sexually violated children.
These parties are ignoring international law, ignoring this Council’s resolutions, presidential statements and conclusions, and more needs to be done to hold them accountable.
In line with the Secretary-General’s recommendations, we encourage this Council to include child recruitment and use in the mandate of its sanctions committees; to ensure the SRSG [Special Representative of the Secretary General] is asked to brief those committees more regularly; and to prioritise persistent violators on its agenda.
And we encourage the Council to refer persistent violators to existing sanctions committees, and to consider other, targeted measures where no sanctions committee exists. 
New Zealand, Statement by the Permanent Representative of New Zealand before the UN Security Council, 16 June 2010.

Nigeria
In 2008, in its combined third and fourth periodic reports to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Nigeria stated:
2.1.1 Minimum Legal Ages provided by the Child’s Rights Act 2003
The minimum legal ages as provided for by the Act are as follows:

(v) Recruitment into the armed forces
Section 34 of the Act precludes any person below the age of 18 from enrolling into the armed forces either voluntarily or by conscription.  
Nigeria, Combined third and fourth periodic reports to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, 5 January 2009, UN Doc. CRC/C/NGA/3-4, submitted 19 May 2008, § 2.1.1(v).

Nigeria further stated that “the [Child Rights] Act [2003] prohibits recruitment of children into the Armed Forces of Nigeria”. 
Nigeria, Combined third and fourth periodic reports to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, 5 January 2009, UN Doc. CRC/C/NGA/3-4, submitted 19 May 2008, § 8.1.

Norway
At the 27th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent in 1999, Norway pledged “to promote the adoption of national and international standards prohibiting the military recruitment … in armed conflicts of persons under 18 years of age”. 
Norway, Pledge made at the 27th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, Geneva, 31 October–6 November 1999.

In 2006, in its initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, Norway stated that “the Government of Norway [has] declared, in accordance with article 3, paragraph 2, of the Protocol, that the lower age for recruitment for voluntary service in the armed forces is 18 years”. 
Norway, Initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, 6 March 2006, UN Doc. CRC/C/OPAC/NOR/1, submitted 30 January 2006, § 4.

In 2009, in a statement before the UN Security Council on “Children and Armed Conflict” –made on behalf of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden – the Permanent Representative of Finland stated:
Recruitment of boys and girls to take part in hostilities is a violation of international law, and a war crime in both international and non-international armed conflicts. The (nearly) universal recognition of the prohibition on recruiting or using child soldiers must be matched by effective implementation on the domestic level. The first case before the International Criminal Court (ICC) to have proceeded to trial phase, the one against Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, is a milestone in the efforts to end impunity for the use of child soldiers. …

The Nordic countries wish to emphasize the need for all parties to relevant situations of armed conflict to present concrete, time-bound action plans with detailed descriptions on how they will end and prevent the recruitment of child soldiers …

[W]e would like to reiterate our encouragement to the SC [Security Council] and to the entire UN system to give children in armed conflict the attention they deserve. 
Norway, Statement before the UN Security Council by the Permanent Representative of Finland – on behalf of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden – on “Children and Armed Conflict”, 29 April 2009.

In 2010, in a statement at the Oslo Conference on Armed Violence, Norway’s Minister of Foreign Affairs stated: “We must stop the recruitment of children and young people into wartime militias.” 
Norway, Statement by the Minister of Foreign Affairs at the Oslo Conference on Armed Violence, 12 May 2010.

In 2010, in a statement before the UN Security Council on “The Promotion and Strengthening of the Rule of Law in the Maintenance of International Peace and Security”, Norway’s Permanent Representative stated:
Norway is encouraged by the Security Council statement expressing readiness to impose targeted measures against persistent violators of international law by recruiting … children in war. We are supportive of the proposals of the Secretary General to include child recruitment and its use in the mandate of all sanctions committees. 
Norway, Statement before the UN Security Council by the Permanent Representative of Norway on “The Promotion and Strengthening of the Rule of Law in the Maintenance of International Peace and Security”, 29 June 2010.

In 2010, in a statement before the UN Security Council on the “Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict”, Norway’s Counsellor at its Permanent Mission to the UN stated: “We support the Secretary General’s proposals to include the recruitment … of child soldiers in the mandate of all sanctions committees”. 
Norway, Statement before the UN Security Council by the Counsellor at the Permanent Mission of Norway to the UN on the “Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict”, 7 July 2010.

Oman
In 2005, in its second periodic report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Oman stated:
The current law does not permit the recruitment of any person who has not attained the age of 15 years into the armed forces. As for children between the ages of 15 and 18 years, they may volunteer for the armed forces. Preference is usually given to those who are oldest and they are considered only for a specific and extremely limited number of branches of the armed forces. 
Oman, Second periodic report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, 8 May 2006, UN Doc. CRC/C/OMN/2, submitted 28 April 2005, § 453.

Pakistan
In 2001, in its second periodic report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Pakistan stated:
The Pakistan National Service Ordinance 1970 deals with the introduction of compulsory national service and also prescribes that the age of enlistment in the armed forces is 18 years. It is possible, however, for training to begin a few years prior to regular service, but the age for this is 16 or above. In general the eligibility rules for the defence forces provide that the officers and jawans (soldiers) recruited are between the ages of 17 and 23 (with at least a year’s training and education before participation in active service), while those in the technical services (e.g. signals and nursing) are recruited between the ages of 16 and 23. In this case, the minimum age is lower because the signals and nursing branches are specialized services that require at least four years of training and education before participation in active military service. There is no conscription in Pakistan and no one is forced to join the armed forces against his or her will. 
Pakistan, Second periodic report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, 11 April 2003, UN Doc. CRC/C/65/Add.21, submitted 19 January 2001, § 359; see also § 54.

In 2008, in its combined third and fourth periodic reports to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Pakistan stated: “Under the Pakistan National Service Ordinance 1970 the age of enlistment in the armed forces is eighteen years with the possibility to begin two years earlier for training. There is no compulsory conscription … .” 
Pakistan, Third and fourth periodic reports to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, 19 March 2009, UN Doc. CRC/C/PAK/3–4, submitted 4 January 2008, § 532.

Philippines
In 1993, in its initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, the Philippines stated: “Children are not to be recruited into the Armed Forces of the Philippines or into any armed group.” 
Philippines, Initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Doc. CRC/C/3/Add.23, 3 November 1993, § 200.

In 2002, in a speech at the 6th Asia Pacific-Middle East Regional Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the President of the Philippines stated:
… I thank the work of the Red Cross and Red Crescent in soothing the suffering of the victims of terrorism even as I ask you to elevate other issues related to conflict or terrorism to a higher place in the agenda of your action and advocacy plan.
One, is an active campaign, I hope, against the employment of children and minors in combat. This comes to my mind, because just a week ago, I attended a surrender ceremony of former communist rebels and saw how they still continue to be recruited at such an early age to wage war against the government. I ask for your support and cooperation in facing this serious challenge to the community of civilized nations. 
Philippines, Speech by the President of the Philippines at the 6th Asia Pacific-Middle East Regional Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, 25 November 2002.

In 2007, in its report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the 2000 Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, the Philippines stated:
10. The Philippine government does not at all allow the direct participation of the country’s minors in warfare. This is manifest in the policy of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to enlist into the armed forces only persons who are 18 years old and above. This policy is contained in the Memorandum Circular No. 13 on Selective Enlistment/Reenlistment of the Department of National Defense (DND) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines signed in July 1991.

192. There are very clear legal mechanisms as well as administrative guidelines that have been adopted by the government which prohibit the recruitment of minors into the armed forces. The policy of the non-recruitment of persons under 18 is well established. 
Philippines, Initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under Article 8(1) of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, UN Doc. CRC/C/OPAC/PHL/1, 7 November 2007, §§ 10 and 192.

Republic of Korea
In 2007, in its initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the 2000 Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, the Republic of Korea stated:
4. The Republic of Korea remains committed to protecting children from involvement in armed conflict by respecting the principles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Protocol … Major national measures taken to implement the Optional Protocol are as follows:
(a) The minimum age for voluntary enlistment for active service in the armed forces was raised from 17 to 18 years by amending the related provision of the Military Service Act;

7. The Military Service Act clearly states that no male national under the age of 18 may be enlisted for active or reserve service. 
Republic of Korea, Initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, 1 April 2007, UN Doc. CRC/C/OPAC/KOR/1, 16 July 2007, §§ 4(a) and 7.

Russian Federation
In 2010, in its initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the 2000 Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, the Russian Federation stated:
1. … In June 2008, the Russian Federation ratified the Optional Protocol (Federal Act No. 101-FZ of 26 June 2008 ratifying the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict). On 24 September 2008, the instrument of ratification was deposited with the Secretary-General. Pursuant to article 10 of the Optional Protocol, it entered into force for the Russian Federation one month later.

4. … The Russian Federation ratified the Optional Protocol with the following declaration:
The Russian Federation, in accordance with article 3, paragraph 2, of the Optional Protocol, hereby declares that, under the law of the Russian Federation, citizens who have not attained the age of 18 years may not be conscripted for military service in the armed forces of the Russian Federation. They may not enter into a contract for the performance of military service. 
Russian Federation, Initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, 4 September 2012, UN Doc. CRC/C/OPAC/RUS/1, submitted 20 October 2010, §§ 1 and 4.

Rwanda
In 2003, in its second periodic report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Rwanda stated:
I. Voluntary enlistment in the armed forces
89. Although voluntary enlistment in the armed forces is subject by law to a minimum age of 16, the law that was recently passed on the rights of the child and protection of children against violence states in article 19 that military service is prohibited for children under 18.
J. Conscription
90. The minimum age for conscription is not specified in Rwandan legislation, especially since service in the armed forces has always been voluntary. 
Rwanda, Second periodic report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Doc CRC/C/70Add.22, 8 October 2003, §§ 89–90.

In 2010, in its initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the 2000 Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, Rwanda stated:
III. General information

B. General Measures of implementation of the [2000 Optional] Protocol [on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict]

1. Policy measures

24. … Rwanda formulated a national policy on orphans and other vulnerable children since January 2003. This policy contains strategies and measures to respond to various situations of vulnerability of the child …
25. Specific objectives of the Policy on these children are the following:

(b) To prevent the recruitment of children into armed groups …

2. Legislative measures

37. Even if it is prior to the ratification of the Protocol, the Law [Relating to] the Rights and Protection of the [C]hild [A]gainst [V]iolence [(2001)] … is a special law on the matter. Article 19 prohibits military service for children aged below eighteen years.
38. The Law N° 19/2002 of 17 May 2002 establishing Rwanda Defence Forces, in its Article 3, provides that Rwanda Defence Forces are open to any voluntary Rwandan citizen, who meets conditions determined by [s]pecific statutes governing Rwanda Defence Forces, without any discrimination. Pursuant to this law, the Presidential [Order Establishing Army General Statutes (2002)] … sets the minimum age to be recruited into Rwanda Defence Forces (RDF) at 18 years (Article 5).
39. The Law N°25/2004 of 19 November 2004 on the Creation, Organization and Functioning of the local service in charge of maintenance of security “Local Defence”, in its Article 9, specifies that the person selected (by the Cell Council as stipulated in Article 8 of the same law) to be member of the “Local Defence” must be at least eighteen (18) years old.
40. The Presidential Decree No 155/01 of the 31st of December 2002 on the General Statute governing the National Police. In its Article 5 this Decree specifies that to be enrolled in the National Police, a person must be aged eighteen (18) years minimum.

F. Reference date used to determine if a person is above or below the age limit …
66. In the past, the officer in charge of civil registration recorded the year of birth because birth declarations were often made long after the event and therefore the person declaring birth could not remember the exact day and month of birth. It is to say that the reference date to determine if a person is above or below the age limit is generally the first day of the year in which the interested person attains this age limit. However, this way of calculating is gradually being replaced by another more specific method that refers to the day, month and year of birth because parents are more and more sensitised to have their children registered in official civil registry.
67. The obligation to register births stems from the law which also punishes those who do not comply. [I]n this framework, the Law N°14/2008 of 04 June 2008 on Civil [R]egistration of the Population and the Delivery of the National Identity Card stipulates in its Article 8 Paragraph 1 that: “Every person is responsible to declare the birth of her/his child within a time not exceeding (30) thirty days from the date of birth… ”. The last paragraph of this Article 8 provides that “the guardian or foster parent is responsible to declare the birth of children under their guardianship within a time not exceeding (30) thirty days as from the day they acquired the guardianship”.
68. As for punishments, Article 12 provides for [a] prison sentence of one (1) to seven (7) days and of a fine of Five Thousand Rwandan Francs (5,000 RWFS) to Fifty Thousand Rwandan Francs (50,000 RWFS) or one of these punishments only against any person who does not respect the obligations stipulated in the terms of Article 8 mentioned above.
69. It should finally be noted that death and birth registration which was carried out by the Districts has been done at the level of Sectors since the beginning of the year 2006. At each administrative sector, a professional in charge of civil registration was recruited, to support and facilitate services in charge of civil registration. Therefore, birth and death registers are kept by this officer of the Sector. Without doubt, this decentralization will also facilitate birth and death declarations because it reduces long distances that used to [discourage] … the majority of the population from travelling to District Headquarters.

IV. Specific measures of implementation of the Protocol

Article 2: Measures taken, in particular legislative, administrative measures, or otherwise, to ensure that persons who have not attained the age of 18 years are not subject to compulsory recruitment in armed forces

77. The Law No 13/2009 of 27th May 2009 regulating Labour in Rwanda, in its Article 8 prohibits forced Labour.
78. If the spirit of all these texts is against voluntary recruitment of persons aged less than eighteen years, it goes without saying that compulsory recruitment is a fortiori prohibited for these same people.

Article 3, Paragraph 1: (a) The minimum age set for voluntary recruitment in armed forces, in accordance with the provisions of the declaration deposited during the ratification of the Protocol or the accession to this instrument or any modification which has occurred thereafter.

82. It should be stressed here that Rwanda took serious note and followed up the application of the recommendation N° 63 of the Committee of the Rights of the Child during the examination of the initial country report on the [1989] Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Committee hailed the Law [Relating to] the Rights and Protection of the [C]hild [A]gainst [V]iolence [(2001)] … prohibiting any military service for children aged less than 18 years (Article 19). However, [t]he Committee was still very concerned because this law did not apply to Local Defence Force (LDF). The Committee therefore recommended to the State Party to take all necessary measures to make sure that children aged less than 18 years are not recruited into LDF or of any other armed group operating on … [its] territory.
83. Therefore following this recommendation, the Law N° 25/2004 of 19 November 2004 on the Creation, Organization and Functioning of Local Service responsible for assisting in the maintenance of security “Local Defence” stipulates in its Article 9 that a person selected to be member of the “Local Defence” must:

(c) Be eighteen (18) years old;

84. … [A] candidate who wishes to be admitted in the National Police Force must in addition “be at least 18 years old and 25 years maximum”.

Article 5: Provisions of the national legislation or international instruments and international humanitarian law applicable to Rwanda that promote most the respect of the rights of the child …

1. Paragraphs 1 and 2: Provisions of the Optional Protocol
(a) Revision of the national legislation and the made modifications

102. Even if the Penal Code in force provides for punishments against forgery and use of forgery as well as fraudulent declarations and false claims, the bill of the new Penal Code provides for specific punishments against people responsible … [for] recruitment of children into the army, such recruitment having been done following … fraudulent records or following false declarations.

(b) The place of the Optional Protocol in the National Law and its Applicability before National Jurisdictions
103. … In Rwanda, the place of the Protocol is … like that of other international treaties or agreements, i.e. it has supremacy over national laws.
104. As for the applicability of the Protocol before jurisdictions, there are no litigations brought before Rwandan jurisdictions that require the application of the Protocol, simply because there are no children in the army.

2. Paragraph 3: Measures adopted on disarmament, demobilization (or … [relief] from military obligations) and the provision of suitable assistance for physical and psychological re-adaptation and social reintegration of children, taking into account the specific situation of girls

(e) Legal provisions adopted to make recruitment of children a punishable offence and the question of knowing if this offence falls within [the] competence of any specific mechanism of justice created in the framework of conflict (for example war crime courts; mediation organizations and establishment of facts); guarantees adopted to ensure that the rights of the child as victims and witnesses are respected in the framework of these mechanisms in accordance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child

170. Specific repressive sanctions are not provided for against the recruitment of children as the army is under the authority of public authorities and the S[t]ate has prohibited carrying out such kind of recruitment.
171. Private militias are prohibited by the Decree of the 7th of December 1960 in the framework of measures related to public security.
172. In the final analysis, if a person took the law in his/her own hands and kidnapped children to be recruited into an army, which would be in any case not possible in the country, he/she would be punished in accordance with the provisions of the above-mentioned Decree [Article 3] and Article 388 of the Penal Code which provides for a prison sentence ranging from five to ten years against anybody who, by violence, tricks or threats, arbitrarily kidnaps or helps kidnap, arrests or make[s] arrest, detain[s] or make[s] detain any person; maximum sentence shall be applied if the person kidnapped, arrested, detained is under 18 years of age.
173. The draft law of the new Penal Code provides for punishments against people responsible for recruitment of children in the army. 
Rwanda, Initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, 6 December 2011, UN Doc. CRC/C/OPAC/RWA/1, submitted 20 January 2010, §§ 24, 25, 37–40, 66–69, 77, 78, 82–84, 102–104 and 170–173.
[footnotes in original omitted]
Saudi Arabia
In 2004, in its second periodic report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Saudi Arabia stated that it “prohibits the enlistment of any young person under the age of 18 in the armed forces”. 
Saudi Arabia, Second periodic report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, 21 April 2005, UN Doc. CRC/C/136/Add.1, submitted 12 November 2004, § 275.

Serbia
In 2007, in its initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Serbia stated:
The … Law of the Army of FRY [Federal Republic of Yugoslavia] sets out that the recruitment obligation [for the army] begins at the beginning of the calendar year in which a citizen of SCG [State Union of Serbia and Montenegro] becomes 17 years of age and lasts until the beginning of the army service … [R]ecruitment is done in the calendar year in which the recruited person becomes 18 years of age and also that the recruited person may, at his own request, be recruited in the calendar year in which he becomes 17, while the President of SCG may order, during a state of war, recruitment of persons with military obligation who have become 17 years of age. 
Serbia, Initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, 31 August 2007, UN Doc. CRC/C/SRB/1, submitted 30 May 2007, § 439; see also § 53.

Serbia and Montenegro
In 2003, in its initial report to the Human Rights Committee, Serbia and Montenegro stated:
602. The Convention on the Rights of the Child has been incorporated in the Yugoslav legal system in 1990 … Also, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia ratified the Optional Protocol on the Participation of Children in Armed Conflict in 2002 …
603. In case of war or other armed conflict, criminal legislation prohibits the treatment of the participants in the conflict and of the population of the country that is a party to the conflict in a way ignoring the fundamental human rights and freedoms. It is a matter of criminal-legal protection based on international law, so that most of the criminal-legal norms, in defining criminal offences, refer to international law.
604. Besides, the protection of children from participating in armed conflicts is also ensured by the legislation relating [to] the Yugoslav Army and the performance of military service. This legislation establishes the lower limit for sending persons to do their military service, i.e. 21 years of age. Exceptionally, a conscript may at his own request be sent to serve his military term even before reaching the age of 21, but not before 18 years of age. 
Serbia and Montenegro, Initial report to the Human Rights Committee, UN Doc. CCPR/C/SEMO/2003/1, 24 July 2003, §§ 602–604.

Sierra Leone
In 2006, in its second periodic report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Sierra Leone stated that “upon ratifying the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict in May 2002, the minimum age of recruitment into the Armed Forces was increased from 17½ years, as provided by the Military Forces Act (1961), to 18 years”. 
Sierra Leone, Second periodic report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, 8 September 2006, UN Doc. CRC/C/SLE/2, § 266.

In 2008, in its initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, Sierra Leone stated:
2. The Government of Sierra Leone signed and ratified the Protocol on 8 September 2000 and 15 May 2002, respectively. In consequence, the country declared that the minimum age of recruitment into its armed forces shall thenceforth be eighteen (18) years. Prior to this, section 16 (2) of the Sierra Leone Military Forces Act (1961) permitted recruitment of persons above “the apparent age of 17 and half years” or of persons below that age and for whom written consent would have had to be given by their parents/guardians.

4. Ever since 2002, mass sensitization and education campaigns were undertaken … to ensure that no person below the age of eighteen (18) years should be recruited into any fighting or security force in Sierra Leone.

10. The Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces Recruitment Policy (2004) and Recruitment Act (2006) strictly prohibits “Voluntary” and “Compulsory” enlistment of all persons below 18 years. 
Sierra Leone, Initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, 5 April 2009, UN Doc. CRC/C/OPAC/SLE/1, submitted 31 March 2008, §§ 2, 4 and 10.

South Africa
At the 27th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent in 1999, South Africa pledged “to promote the adoption of national and international standards prohibiting the military recruitment … in armed conflicts of persons under 18 years of age”. 
South Africa, Pledge made at the 27th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, Geneva, 31 October–6 November 1999.

Spain
Upon ratification of the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child, Spain expressed its disagreement at the Convention “permitting the recruitment and participation in armed conflict of children having attained the age of 15 years”. 
Spain, Declarations made upon ratification of the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child, 6 December 1990, reprinted in UN Doc. CRC/C/2/Rev.4, 28 July 1995, p. 29.

In 2006, in its initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, Spain stated:
5. The minimum age of entry into the Spanish armed forces is 18 years, as attested by information contained in the national identity document for Spanish citizens or the equivalent document issued by the Spanish authorities to foreign citizens.
6. As stipulated in the preamble to the Armed Forces Personnel (Regulations) Act, Act No. 17/1999, compulsory military service is being abolished and a new system introduced in which all military personnel will be professional members of the armed forces.
7. Article 1, paragraph 1, of the same Act sets out its aim and scope, stipulating:
The aim of the present Act is to establish regulations for professional military personnel, to determine the command staff and maximum troop levels and to set out the military training system and the procedures for enrolment. It also aims to regulate the enlistment of additional personnel to the Armed Forces when required by the exigencies of the defence of Spain and its interests, on a voluntary basis or in accordance with article 30 of the Constitution. This is to ensure that the Armed Forces are in a position to perform their mission as defined in article 8 of the Constitution.
Article 63, paragraph 2, of this legal instrument states that the minimum age of admission to military training institutions is 18 years:
In order to apply for entry, candidates must hold Spanish nationality, not be deprived of civil rights, demonstrate good civil conduct as established in the Civil Conduct (Issuance of Certificates and Reports) Act, Act No. 68/1980 (1 December), have no previous criminal convictions, not have been discharged for disciplinary reasons from any public office or disqualified permanently from exercising public functions, not have been accorded the status of conscientious objector or be in the process of applying for such status and be 18 years of age, and must also comply with the regulations setting upper age limits, possess the required qualifications or be able to obtain them within the application period and not exceed the maximum number of application attempts.
9. Royal Decree No. 1735/2000 (20 October), adopting the General Regulations on Enlistment and Promotion in the Armed Forces, gave effect to the provisions of Act No. 17/1999. Article 15, paragraph 1 (b), of this Royal Decree sets out the condition that all candidates must “be at least 18 years old on enrolment at the military training centre, and not exceed the age limits established for each case in the present General Regulations”.
10. Attention is also drawn to the stipulations in article 68 bis, paragraph 3, of Act No. 17/1999, subsequently introduced by Act No. 32/2002 (5 July), concerning the enlistment of foreign nationals to professional military service, which states that candidates must fulfil the following requirements:
- They must have legal residence in Spain;
- They must not be liable to be refused entry to the territory of countries with which Spain has signed an agreement to that effect;
- They must have reached majority age as defined in their national legislation; and
- They must have no previous criminal convictions in Spain or in former countries of residence for offences under Spanish law.
11. The requirements for enlistment in the armed forces are comprehensively defined in Spanish legislation; they include a complete ban on the enlistment of any persons under 18 years of age, which in the case of foreign nationals is doubly enforced since, in addition to being required to be at least 18 years old, they must also be legally of age under their own national legislation. 
Spain, Initial report of Spain to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, 16 October 2006, UN Doc. CRC/C/OPAC/ESP/1, submitted 5 October 2006, §§ 5–11.
[emphasis in original]
Spain further stated:
Spain was one of the group of countries which considered that the protection given in the Convention on the Rights of the Child was insufficient in this area and supported a stronger stand against the military recruitment of minors. To that end, it made the following declaration:
Spain, wishing to make common cause with those States and humanitarian organizations which have manifested their disagreement with the contents of article 28, paragraphs 2 and 3, of the Convention, also wishes to express its disagreement with the age limit fixed therein and to declare that the said limit appears insufficient, by permitting the recruitment and involvement in armed conflict of children having attained the age of 15 years. 
Spain, Initial report of Spain to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, 16 October 2006, UN Doc. CRC/C/OPAC/ESP/1, submitted 5 October 2006, § 20.

Sri Lanka
In 2008, in its initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the 2000 Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, Sri Lanka stated:
1. The Government of Sri Lanka considers the recruitment of children for armed conflict as one of the most serious aspects of the armed conflict in Sri Lanka. The Government recognizes that child recruitment is an extreme form of child abuse and exploitation, and that the loss of childhood as a result of recruitment is irreplaceable. It is in direct contravention of the [1989] Convention on the Rights of the Child and the [2000] Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict, … to [both of] which [the] Government is a party. Sri Lanka ratified the Convention and the Optional Protocol on 11 August 1991 and 12 February 2002 respectively. Sri Lanka was one of the first countries to sign and ratify the Optional Protocol.
2. Sri Lanka also ratified the Convention [on the Worst Forms of Child Labour] No. 182 (1999), of the International Labour Organization on 1 March 2001. This defines child soldiering as one of the worst forms of child labour and prohibits the forced or compulsory recruitment of children under the age of 18 for use in armed conflict.
3. The Government has consistently maintained a zero tolerance approach towards child recruitment … in accordance with its obligations under the Convention and in particular, the [2000] Optional Protocol. The Government unequivocally condemns the recruitment of children for armed conflict and regards it as the most serious human rights violation directly attributable to the armed conflict. It recognizes that the majority of children thus recruited not only suffer untold abuse and hardship, but run the risk of being maimed, disabled and killed.

5. Sri Lanka abides by the articles of the Convention [on the Rights of the Child]. Accordingly, all recruitment to the Sri Lankan Armed Forces is voluntary and between the ages of 18 and 22 at the time of enlistment.
6. The Penal Code (Amendment) Act No. 16 of 2006 relating to the prohibition on the recruitment of children as combatants was enacted in Parliament on 1 January 2006. Therefore, engaging or recruiting children for use in armed conflict is now recognised as an offence. Any person convicted of this offence shall be liable to imprisonment of either description for a term not exceeding 30 years and to a fine.
7. The Government supported and welcomed the unanimous adoption of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1612 on children in armed conflict in July 2005. This resolution gives effect to a series of measures, including the establishment of a monitoring and reporting mechanism on children exposed to the armed conflict. Accordingly, the Government established the Task Force for Monitoring and Reporting (TFMR) in July 2006 in collaboration with relevant United Nations agencies. Sri Lanka maintains close collaboration with the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict and presented an Aide-Memoire with relevant information in February 2008. Security Council resolution 1612 remains closely relevant to the Sri Lankan armed conflict situation which has existed for over two decades as it is one in which children have and continue to experience child recruitment, internal displacement and other child rights violations. The monitoring and reporting mechanism set-up under the Security Council Resolution 1612 provides an opportunity to obtain comprehensive information on incidents involving children due to the conflict.
8. However, verification of the accuracy and reliability of information, objectivity of the incidents reported and proper analysis are issues yet to be fully resolved. Figures on child recruitment are mainly those collected through a United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) database established in 2003. The data represents information on child recruitment reported by parents to UNICEF offices located in conflict affected areas of the North and the East. However this may not fully represent the total picture due to factors such as fear, intimidation and harassment of concerned families by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE), a non-State party entity in Sri Lanka, which continues to recruit children as combatants. Anecdotal information indicates a high prevalence rate of child recruitment among women headed households particularly widows, but no exact figures are available. Since the child recruitment database by UNICEF was established in 2003, it does not reflect the widespread recruitment which occurred during the period from 1983 to 2002. The only information during this period is that available with the Armed Forces, that nearly 60 per cent of the estimated 14,000 LTTE cadres were child recruits. Most of the current LTTE leadership today were probably child combatants who have survived to adulthood.
9. Sri Lanka is committed to uphold the rights of all Sri Lankan children including the protection rights of children exposed to the armed conflict. Sri Lanka’s armed forces have consistently maintained 18 years as the legally-established minimum age of recruitment, also in accordance with relevant international treaty obligations. However, the LTTE have recruited children since the commencement of the conflict in 1983. Advocacy against child recruitment[] has been consistently maintained by the Government with support from the international community particularly UNICEF. But so far, this has not had the desired impact and child recruitment practices by the LTTE still continue. … [T]here have been regular visits to conflict affected areas by high-ranking United Nations officials who have advocated against child recruitment. The last was by the United Nations Special Advisor Mr. Alan Rock in November 2006. Despite commitments made to Mr. Rock by the LTTE that child recruitment would cease from January 2007, and that an Action Plan to do so would be developed, this has yet to be implemented.
10. An Action Plan for Children Affected by War was signed by the Government, UNICEF and the LTTE in 2003 in the aftermath of the 2002 Cease-Fire Agreement (CFA). This included a clear commitment by the LTTE to stop child recruitment while collaborating with the Tamil Rehabilitation Organisation (TRO) …

12. Since the signing of the CFA, as of 31 March 2008, UNICEF has recorded in its database 6,259 cases of child recruitment by the LTTE. Out of this total, 3,784 were boys, 2,475 girls, and 2,047 were regarded as released children. There were 1,429 children recruited under 18 but who had reached 18 years as of March 2008. Those under 18 years were 168. UNICEF has also recorded underage recruits by the Karuna faction, which is a break-away group of the LTTE in the East. The total known to UNICEF is 463. Outstanding cases under 18 years are 131 with 66 recruited under 18 years but are now above that age.
13. The LTTE has been identified as a party that recruit[s] or use[s] children in situations of armed conflict in the report to the [UN] Secretary-General on children and armed conflict and in further reports in 2006 (S/2006/1006) and in 2007 (S/2007/758). In 2007, the Karuna faction of the LTTE was also included as a party responsible for child recruitment.
14. The UNSG [UN Secretary General] in a report issued in 2005 highlighted LTTE’s continued use and recruitment of children following the signing of the CFA in 2002. This reached a peak in 2004 when there were over 1,000 cases of recruitment and re-recruitment reported by parents to UNICEF. Increasing number of girls was a new feature. Most of the recruitment occurred in the Eastern Province.
15. The UN Secretary General’s report of 2006 states that the LTTE continued the recruitment and the re-recruitment of children who had previously run away. The report indicated that as of end 2006, out of a total of 5,794 cases, 1,598 remained with the LTTE. The report also indicated an overlap of 37 per cent between children recorded by UNICEF and children who were released, ran away or returned home. This suggests that the UNICEF figures reported approximately one third of the total cases of recruitment. Higher levels of recruitment were reported from Kilinochchi (which is an “uncleared” area where the LTTE dominates) with more girls being recruited from Mullativu. A disturbing feature reported was the release of children through the so called “North-East Secretariat on Human Rights” and to an “Educational Skills Development Centre”, both of which are run by the LTTE. Children were placed in this facility without parental consent. No independent verification was possible. As a perpetrator, the LTTE’s control of the centre is highly questionable. During this period, the LTTE had conducted systematic programmes on civil defence training. UNICEF reported that children were also involved in such programmes and much of them were conducted during school hours, while school principals and teachers were helpless.
16. In April 2004, “Colonel” Karuna, the LTTE Commander in the East[,] broke away from the LTTE and fighting between the two factions was intensified in the East. UNICEF reported child recruitment by the Karuna faction of the LTTE in the East. Allegations were made of state complicity. This is now under investigation through a Committee constituted under the Secretary to the Ministry of Justice. An issue regarding making a distinction between adults and children will be remedied soon through a new Gazette notification pertaining to the release of children and child friendly procedures.
17. The Government continues to work in close collaboration with UNICEF, as well as International Non-governmental organizations (INGOs), non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and other community based organizations to prevent children from being recruited as combatants by the LTTE and other breakaway groups of the LTTE such as the Karuna faction and the Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Puligal (TMVP).

20. The United Nations Secretary-General’s report of December 2007 reports a decline in child recruitment by the LTTE as reported by UNICEF. However, whether this is a decline in under reporting due to the heightening of hostilities and the inability of parents to report needs to be given serious consideration. The report also highlights greater travel restrictions imposed by the LTTE. This affects adults and children aged 13 and above. During this period there was also a reduction in the number of children handed over by the LTTE to their educational skills development centre in Killinochchi.

24. In April 2007, the Ministry of Child Development and Women’s Empowerment established a Task Force in relation to children affected by the armed conflict. It focused on issues raised in United Nations Security Council resolution 1612 and the Security Council Committee set up under it. Subject areas of focus in the Task Force include conformity of Sri Lankan legislation with the Convention to provide protection for children affected by the armed conflict, [and the] prevention of child recruitment …

27. Enlistment of soldiers to the Armed Forces of Sri Lanka is governed by the Soldiers Enlistment Regulations of 1955. Enlistments are conducted either as “recruits” or “directly enlisted soldiers”. The regulation states that:
“No person shall be enlisted as a recruit in the Regular Force unless he is between the ages of 18 and 22 on the date of his enlistment” and “no person shall be enlisted as a directly enlisted soldier in the Regular Force unless he is between the ages of 18 and 40 years on the date of his enlistment”.
Enlistment of a recruit means “any soldier other than a directly enlisted soldier” and enlistment of directly enlisted soldier means “any person who is selected for an appointment requiring technical or other special knowledge training”.
28. The above mentioned requirements have been strictly complied with by the Armed Forces and there have been no exceptions.
29. In addition, the extension of service or re-recruitment of a soldier is applicable only to a soldier already in service, as stated in the Soldiers Service Regulations No 1 of 1994; hence the issue of age does not arise.
30. Sri Lanka does not have any legislation providing for compulsory recruitment or conscription.
31. All recruitment to the armed forces is voluntary, as categorically stated in the Soldiers Enlistment Regulations of 1955:
Paragraph 3 states that: “Applications from persons desirous of being enlisted as recruits shall be called for by advertisements in the Gazette.”
Paragraph 10 states that: “Applications from persons desirous of being enlisted as directly enlisted soldiers shall be called for by advertisement in the Gazette. Such advertisement shall set out the special qualification necessary for the posts which are being filled.”
The minimum age of enlistment is 18 years.
32. The following declaration was made by Sri Lanka at the time of its ratification of the Optional Protocol:
The Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka declares in accordance with article 3 (2) of the Protocol that under the laws of Sri Lanka: (a) there is no compulsory, forced or coerced recruitment into the national armed forces; (b) recruitment is solely on a voluntary basis; (c) the minimum age for voluntary recruitment into national armed forces is 18 years. …
33. All the requirements mentioned under … Article [3 of the (2000) Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict] are strictly complied with by the armed forces in respect of enlistment of soldiers.
34. The LTTE is distinct from the armed forces of the State. The LTTE have consistently recruited children since 1983 in violation of international law and since 2006, local law, specifically the Penal Code.
35. The Sri Lankan armed forces have estimated that between 1983 to 2002, out of a total of 14,000 LTTE combatants, as many as 60 per cent of the combatants were below the age of 18 years. Both boys and girls have been recruited. Estimates also reveal that at least 40 per cent of the LTTE fighting force were killed in action during the 1983–2002 period. These mostly consisted of children between the ages of 9 and 18. Most of the adult leadership of the LTTE today were probably child combatants. This could be one of the factors which hinder a total elimination of child recruitment as the LTTE leadership is not committed to cease such recruitment. In addition, fear and intimidation are factors which lead to recruitment, as well as kidnapping and abduction.
36. The former Special Representative of the [UN] Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict Mr. Olara Otunnu was invited by the Government to visit Sri Lanka in May 1998, to add strength to the advocacy campaign against child recruitment. … The LTTE made the following commitments in relation to children in armed conflict to Mr. Otunnu during his meeting with the LTTE[:]
(a) The LTTE undertook … not to conscript children below the age of 17 years. The LTTE leadership accepted that a framework to monitor these commitments would be put in place;

37. These commitments were not implemented by the LTTE. Despite such repeated pledges by the LTTE leadership to end child recruitment, they continue to do so even today. Such children include not only those living in un-cleared areas but also those in areas that have been consider[ed] “cleared” from the LTTE.
38. According to UNICEF data as of 31 March 2008, there have been a total of 6,259 cases of child recruitment by the LTTE since the signing of the CFA in 2002. Out of this 3,784 were boys and 2,475 were girls. Although these numbers are high, these are still lower than the actual numbers. It is not possible to accurately determine the full extent of under-age recruitment for several reasons. Some parents are not fully aware of the existing UNICEF reporting mechanisms. Due to fear of reprisals by the LTTE, many do not report such cases. Most families suffer from intimidation and threats if they contravene LTTE orders.
39. According to the cumulative statistics of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) when it was operational, out of 3,830 ceasefire (ruled) violations by the LTTE during the period 22 February 2002 to 30 April 2007, 1,743 violations were related to child recruitment. This amounts to 45.51 per cent of LTTE’s total ceasefire (ruled) violations during that period.
40. The strategies adopted by the LTTE and the Karuna Group to recruit children to their cadres are manifold. However, the most common form of conscription is through fear and intimidation of families as well as abductions, and kidnapping. Of equal importance is their ruse to “motivate” children through deliberate efforts to glorify war, violence and martyrdom. Children, being extremely impressionable[,] are easily conditioned to regard violence as a source of power. They can thus, get attracted to join armed groups masquerading as champions of a particular cause.
41. Children are not only forcibly recruited … Children are not equipped to form an informed opinion in regard to the legitimacy of such causes and therefore become easy prey for such illegitimate power groups. They are consequently denied a multiplicity of rights, including the right to health, education, recreation, leisure and play and most importantly of all to be able to live and grow in their own family and community. With the prolonged conflict, and LTTE’s difficulties to recruit adequate numbers of adults, the poverty situation which is aggravated in a conflict environment, indoctrination of young people even in schools in such areas, the practice of child recruitment continues. The LTTE promises food and payment to the children they recruit.

44. According to information obtained from the Security Forces, children are usually recruited by the LTTE in the age range of 7–17.
45. Analysis of … data compiled by UNICEF … indicates significant child recruitment in 2002, the same year the CFA [Cease-Fire Agreement] was signed between the Government and the LTTE. It could also be due to the fact that this was the first data gathered on a systematic basis where families had an opportunity to report, and access given to the LTTE in areas controlled by the Security Forces, pursuant to the CFA signed in February 2002. Although there were indications of a decline in recruiting children as combatants in 2004 and 2005, it was not clear how significant these findings were. …

47. Although the Government attempted to raise the issue of child recruitment during its talks with the LTTE on the Cease Fire Agreement held in Geneva from 22–23 February 2006, the LTTE declined to discuss the topic. The Statement issued at the conclusion of talks states that “The Government and the LTTE discussed all issues concerning the welfare of children in the North East, including the recruitment of children.”
48. Based on codes of confidentiality, details of individual child combatants are not disclosed. However, personal information, place of abduction, age when recruited and date of recruitment could be provided by [the] Government to the Committee on the Rights of the Child upon request.
49. The Government in 2003 decided to collaborate with UNICEF to draw up a plan to prevent child recruitment. Thus an Action Plan for Children Affected by War (the Action Plan) was signed between the Government, the LTTE and UNICEF in April 2003. The Action Plan focuses on child recruitment … in terms of preventative strategies … In the Action Plan, the LTTE made commitments to cease the practice of child recruitment and release all those already recruited. However, this commitment was not impleme nted.
50. There was however systemic weaknesses in the planning of this initiative by UNICEF. Government institutions, particularly the NCPA [National Child Protection Authority], which has the mandate to uphold the protection rights enshrined in the Convention [on the Rights of the Child] was left out of the planning process and the project because the LTTE did not like the way they had advocated against child recruitment. Strong objections by the LTTE interfered with the selection of partners to the project by UNICEF. Due to [the] NCPA’s consistent zero tolerance and non-negotiable policy against child recruitment, the LTTE objected to [the] NCPA’s participation in the Action Plan. The NCPA was and still, as the key national agency for child protection, is committed to protect children from recruitment as these children are not only at risk of injury, disability and death but also vulnerable to serious, long term psychological problems and deprivation of education, and worst of all, their right to life is at risk. They are also being denied … the full enjoyment of the childhood among their parents, siblings, extended family and friends. Instead of the NCPA, the Ministry of Social Welfare was selected to provide training inputs through the Department of Probation and Child Care Services as the partner Government institution for child rehabilitation. This Department was “acceptable” to the LTTE.
51. Both the NCPA and the HRCSL [Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka], which is also involved in promoting child rights in conflict areas are members of the Task Force on Monitoring and Reporting (TFMR). The HRCSL, which is also a member of the TFMR, advocates a zero tolerance policy in relation to the recruitment of children as combatants, and has expressed their deep concern about the continued recruitment of child soldiers by the LTTE. Media releases issued by HRCSL have articulated these policies in a comprehensive manner. The HRCSL has extended its mandate to cover the rights of children affected by the conflict and also performs a monitoring role. HRCSL take steps to produce before Magistrate child combatants who surrender themselves in order to obtain necessary custodial orders and to provide protective care.
52. Although the Government provided LTTE more than 100 birth certificates of children recruited since April 2005, most of these children have not been released.
53. The Penal Code (Amendment) Act No. 16 of 2006 relating to the prohibition on the recruitment of children as combatants, was enacted in Parliament on 1 January 2006. Therefore, engaging or recruiting children for use in armed conflict is now recognised as an offence. Any person convicted of this offence, shall be liable to imprisonment of either description for a term not exceeding 30 years and to a fine.
54. [The] ILO [International Labour Organization] [1999] Convention [on the Worst Forms of Child Labour] No. 182 … , which Sri Lanka ratified on 1 March 2001, defines child soldiering as one of the worst forms of child labour and prohibits the force[d] … recruitment of children under the ages of 18 years for use in armed conflict. The Government is committed to implement the Convention in collaboration with ILO.

58. The Government is … committed to the prevention of recruitment … by the LTTE and its break-away Karuna faction. The Government maintains [towards] the recruitment of children as combatants … a zero tolerance and [considers it a] non–negotiable issue. However, in the context of the ongoing fight against LTTE, the Government seeks the support of relevant international organizations to strengthen the capacity of institutions such as the NCPA, the HRCSL and the Office of the Commissioner General of Rehabilitation to protect children from being used as combatants ….

61. Relevant changes have been made to the law, in particular to the Penal Code in order to address crimes against children. Thus section 358A(1)(d) of the Penal Code pronounces that any person who engages or recruits a child for use in armed conflict shall be guilty of an offence and shall on conviction be liable to imprisonment of either description for a term not exceeding thirty years and to a fine. Paragraph (b) of that subsection states that any person who subjects or causes any person to be subjected to forced or compulsory labour shall be guilty of an offence and shall on conviction be liable to imprisonment of either description for a term not exceeding twenty years and where the offence is committed in relation to a child for a term not exceeding thirty years and to a fine.
62. Sri Lanka is a signatory to the Paris Commitments to protect children from unlawful recruitment … by armed forces or armed groups. …
63. The Assistance and Protection to Victims of Crime and Witnesses Bill which will be presented in Parliament shortly sets out the rights and entitlements of victims of crime and witness protection. …

72. A precursor to the National Authority on the Protection of Victims of Crime and Witnesses is the Centre for Victims of Crime which was established in 2002. The main functions of the Centre are to take measures for the Prevention and Protection of Victims of Crime and Witnesses. This includes crime prevention, prevention of re-victimization, the organizing of workshops, training programmes and media programmes targeting the police and other stakeholders of the criminal justice system as well as Government officials such as District Secretaries, Divisional Secretaries and Grama Niladharies.
73. It is expected that once this Bill is promulgated as an Act of Parliament, those under threat or at risk of forced recruitment would have the confidence to complain and seek assistance.

81. The Government has collaborated with the United Nations to set up the TFMR, the monitoring and reporting mechanism set-up under the Security Council resolution 1612.
82. In conformity with resolution 1612 paragraph 2(a), the Objective of the TFMR is: (a) the systematic gathering of timely, objective, accurate and reliable information on the recruitment … of child soldiers in violation of applicable international law … and (b) reporting to the Working Group of the Security Council on children and armed conflict as set up under resolution 1612.
83. In accordance with resolution 1612 and Section VI, paragraph 2 of the Terms of Reference of the Working Group on the Security Council on children and armed conflict, the TFMR will focus on violations against children affected by armed conflict beginning with its application against the party to the conflict listed in annex II of the Secretary General’s report (S/2005/72) as applicable to Sri Lanka.
84. The TFMR will also focus on the recruitment of child soldiers. … [V]iolations and abuses committed against children affected by armed conflict including abduction of children … will also be addressed.

89. Child recruitment information is collected in a database established in 2003. There is also a record of children who have “surrendered” and those who are under interim care and protection. Care and protection of child “surrendees” are undertaken by the Office of the Commissioner General of Rehabilitation. The NCPA provides support as do other relevant agencies including UNICEF.

91. Pursuant to a decision taken by the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Human Rights (IMCHR) in November 2007, the Minister of Disaster Management and Human Rights established a multidisciplinary Committee to inquire into allegations of abduction and recruitment of children for use in armed conflict. The Committee is mandated to:
(a) Take any measure it may deem necessary to initiate inquiries on, and monitor the investigations into, allegations made against some elements of the security forces in connection with the recruitment and abduction of children by the LTTE’s break-away Karuna faction;
(b) Recommend measures for the protection of complainants and witnesses from reprisals at all stages of an investigation and thereafter …
92. With regard to 48 affidavits submitted to the Inspector General of Police (IGP) by people from the Eastern Province, regarding child abduction and recruitment, two senior Superintendents of Police were assigned to investigate these cases and make recommendations. A detailed report with regard to these 48 affidavits was submitted. The Committee has also requested detailed information from the Inspector General of Police (IGP) and the Senior Deputy Inspector-General of Police/North East, in this regard.
93. … Reports of on-going investigations into alleged disappearances have been called for and measures to prevent child recruitment will be reinforced with the assistance of the local community, the divisional and district administration, the police and the armed forces.

95. It is proposed to set up Village-level Committees for the purpose of surveillance and prevention of recruitment of children for armed conflict …
96. Guidelines on Protective care, Rehabilitation and Reintegration of Child Combatants have been developed in collaboration with the office of the Commissioner General of Rehabilitation.
97. The Guidelines include the following:
(a) To advocate against child recruitment at all levels of society as a core responsibility of the Government;
(b) To mobilize and empower families and communities to protect children at risk of recruitment utilizing community networks working in collaboration with relevant Government authorities;
(c) To facilitate interventions at community level which address early childhood deprivations and provide alternative paths to socio-economic advancement as poverty and marginalization of families are some root causes for recruitment;

98. As part of the Action Plan for Children Affected by War, formulated in 2003, UNICEF collaborated with the Government in planning a mass media awareness campaign on child rights, emphasizing advocacy against child recruitment. This involved posters, road-side signs, radio broadcasts and leaflets. … This was planned to educate parents on their responsibilities to report child rights violations, particularly underage recruitment.
99. According to reports by UNICEF, the mass media campaign was indefinitely postponed to January 2004 as the LTTE did not approve of the key messages. It was subsequently never implemented.

104. … [T]he prevention of new recruits as envisaged in the Action Plan Affected by War faced serious constraints in 2003 due to LTTE’s lack of commitment ma[i]nly due to the fact that the Action Plan was formulated by UNICEF and the LTTE. Thus it was not effectively implemented.

124. The Government considers it important that an effective follow-up at community level once the child leaves the centre is provided. … A district referral system will be formulated on existing reintegration services, … to address … prevention of recruitment.

126. The NCPA is committed to prevent children being used as combatants. This involves advocacy against recruitment …

Financial assistance
137. The Government seeks financial support to … prevent recruitment through advocacy … There is also need for financial assistance for vulnerable families to prevent recruitment and to strengthen the communication system so that all children are able to attend school and therefore not be recruited. 
Sri Lanka, Initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, 15 February 2010, UN Doc. CRC/C/OPAC/LKA/1, submitted 16 June 2008, §§ 1–3, 5–10, 12–17, 20, 24, 27–35, 36(a), 37–41, 44–45, 47–54, 58, 61–63, 72–73, 81–84, 89, 91(a)–(b), 92–93, 95–96, 97(a)–(c), 98–99, 104, 124, 126 and 137.
[footnotes in original omitted]
In 2008, in its combined third and fourth periodic reports to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Sri Lanka stated:
17. Legislation was passed in a number of areas to strengthen children’s rights and enhance their protection. These included the following:

(c) The Penal Code (Amendment) Act No. 16 of 2006 … new section 358A has criminalized outstanding worst forms of child labour as stipulated in the International Labour Organization (ILO) [1999] Convention No. 182 [on the Worst Forms of Child Labour]: … [including] recruitment of children in armed conflict.

66. Currently a restructuring of the underage recruitment database system maintained under the Sri Lanka Task Force on Monitoring and Reporting on United Nations Security Council Resolution 1612 is being discussed.

331. The Government abides strictly with the [1989] Convention on the Rights of the Child and has never recruited children under the age of 18 years to the Sri Lanka Armed Forces. This rule still operates. All recruits have to present a birth certificate which confirms their age as being 18 years. This is a practice in all forms of government employment.

335. The Penal Code was amended in 2006 (Amendment 16). Accordingly the engagement or recruitment of children for use in armed conflict has been criminalized (section 358A).
336. The Action Plan for Children Affected by War was a multi-sectoral programme drawn up in 2003 during the period following the Ceasefire Agreement. It involved the participation of the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE [Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam], with the prime focus being securing the release of child combatants recruited by the LTTE, [and] preventing further recruitment. …

341. … The Government is following up allegations of continued child recruitment by the TMVP [Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal] as a serious issue.

347. The Government set up a Sri Lanka Task Force for Monitoring and Reporting on children affected by armed conflict in terms of Security Council resolution 1612 on July 2006. The Task Force secretariat is based in UNICEF and coordinates information gathering at national level data. The Task Force will be the contact point for the global Steering Committee. … The governmental agen cies which are members include the NCPA [National Child Protection Authority] and the Human Rights Commission. One of the most important aspects which need[s] to be strengthened in the Committee is the need for the verification of incidents being reported. This includes greater attention to accuracy and objectivity. Another is the need to build the capacity of the only two State institutions which have serious difficulties in fully participating in the reporting process due to lack of resources to build the capacity of their institutions to record and report child related incidents to the Sri Lanka Task Force on 1612.
348. As a follow up to Security-Council resolution 1612 and the United Nations Secretary-General’s report on children affected by the conflict, a task force meets regularly under the Secretary [of the] Ministry of Child [D]evelopment to discuss and follow up outstanding issues, particularly in relation to action needed. These include issues such as child recruitment. 
Sri Lanka, Combined third and fourth periodic reports to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, 20 January 2010, UN Doc. CRC/C/LKA/3-4, submitted 24 October 2008, §§ 17(c), 66, 331, 335–336, 341, and 347–348.

In 2009, in its combined third and fourth periodic reports to the Committee against Torture, Sri Lanka stated:
61. Sri Lanka is, at present, successfully emerging from a protracted, 30 year armed conflict with the terrorist group, the LTTE [Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam]. The LTTE was well known for their use of children in armed conflict, sometimes as young as 14 years, for active combat and for suicide missions. The Government of Sri Lanka has, throughout the conflict, maintained its strong condemnation and unequivocal abhorrence … [of] the recruitment … of children in armed conflict.
62. … [T]he Government of Sri Lanka has undertaken strong deterrent measures, and continues to undertake, progressive action towards addressing child recruitment … The Government has consistently maintained a zero tolerance policy towards child recruitment … in armed conflict and maintains an 18 year old lower limit [for recruitment] … [in]to its armed forces.

66. Sri Lanka was among the first Member State[s] to volunteer to set up a National Task Force in accordance with United Nations Security Council resolutions 1539 and 1612 to monitor and report on these activities.
67. The end of the conflict in Sri Lanka in May 2009, and the end of the terrorist activities of the LTTE [Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam], marks a significant starting point for the Government and for the children affected by the armed conflict. Today, with the end of [LTTE] terrorism, most child combatants have been identified. As the LTTE no longer has a ruthless organizational structure to force innocent parents to part with their children, the abhorrent practice of force[d] recruitment of child soldiers has ceased to exist.
68. With the demolition of the LTTE’s ruthless organizational structure, parents are no longer forced to part with their children for purposes of combat.

91. … [T]he Penal Code (Amendment) Bill on the recruitment of children as combatants was passed on the 1 of February 2006. There under the “engaging and recruiting children for use in armed conflict” was considered an offence.

93. … Sri Lanka … [launched] a campaign at the highest executive level to combat child recruitment by the President of Sri Lanka on 26 February 2009 …

98. As a reflection of the government’s commitment at the highest executive level to combat child recruitment, His Excellency President Mahinda Rajapaksa launched on 26th February 2009 the joint Government of Sri Lanka and UNICEF Public Awareness Campaign on Child Recruitment … [The] campaign targets armed groups, vulnerable communities and children affected by the armed conflict; and communicates the government’s commitment to responding to child recruitment. The message of the campaign is three[-]fold:
(a) The Government of Sri Lanka has a zero tolerance policy for child recruitment which is a crime under national and international law;
(b) Armed groups are to immediately release all children in their ranks …
99. “Bring back the Child” is a multimedia campaign that calls on those who recruit children to stop, and for those children currently in their ranks to be released … Concurrently, the campaign aims to strengthen the capacity of communities to protect children against the threats of recruitment. The campaign has been airing for a period of two months on television, radio and through newspapers, billboards and posters across the country, with a focus on the north east, and in the country’s three languages – Sinhalese, Tamil and English. 
Sri Lanka, Combined third and fourth periodic reports to the Committee against Torture, 23 September 2010, UN Doc. CAT/C/LKA/3-4, submitted 17 August 2009, §§ 61–62, 66–68, 91, 93, 98(a)–(b) and 99.

Sweden
At the 27th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent in 1999, Sweden pledged “to promote the adoption of national and international standards prohibiting the military recruitment … in armed conflicts of persons under 18 years of age”. 
Sweden, Pledge made at the 27th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, Geneva, 31 October–6 November 1999.

Switzerland
At the 27th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent in 1999, Switzerland pledged “to promote the adoption of national and international standards prohibiting the military recruitment … in armed conflicts of persons under 18 years of age”. 
Switzerland, Pledge made at the 27th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, Geneva, 31 October–6 November 1999.

In 2002, upon ratification of the 2000 Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, Switzerland made the following declaration: “The Swiss Government declares, in accordance with article 3, paragraph 2, of the Optional Protocol, that the minimum age for the recruitment of volunteers into its national armed forces is 18 years. That age is specified by the Swiss legal system.” 
Switzerland, Declaration made upon ratification of the 2000 Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, 26 June 2002.

In 2004, in its initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, Switzerland stated that “[t]he recruitment of children has been generally prohibited in Switzerland”. 
Switzerland, Initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, 15 July 2005, UN Doc. CRC/C/OPAC/CHE/1, submitted 28 July 2004, § 4.

Switzerland also stated: “In Switzerland, minors are protected by domestic law, which prohibits both compulsory and voluntary enlistment of children.” 
Switzerland, Initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, 15 July 2005, UN Doc. CRC/C/OPAC/CHE/1, submitted 28 July 2004, § 18; see also § 31.

Switzerland further stated:
35. Armed groups engaging in recruitment in Switzerland within the meaning of the Protocol would be covered by article 271 of the Swiss Criminal Code, which states that any person engaging on Swiss territory, without authorization and on behalf of a foreign State, in acts that are the prerogative of the Government shall be liable to ordinary imprisonment or, in serious cases, rigorous imprisonment (para. 1). Similar acts carried out on behalf of a foreign political party or other foreign organization are also punishable (para. 2). … Articles 180 ff. of the Criminal Code, which cover crimes and offences against liberty of the person, would also cover cases of forced recruitment. In cases of abduction, inter alia (Criminal Code, art. 183), children would be protected by a special provision making the perpetrator liable to punishment even where the victim consented. Thus anyone recruiting children against their will and using them in an armed conflict would be guilty of a violation of articles 180 ff. of the Criminal Code. Articles 299 and 300 of the Code, on violation of foreign sovereign territory and acts of hostility against a foreign belligerent or troops, would also cover acts aimed at violent disruption of the political order of a foreign State from within Swiss territory. Consequently, they would also be applicable to groups recruiting children in Switzerland for armed conflict abroad.
36. Various provisions of the Military Criminal Code may also be applicable, in particular article 109, which establishes penalties for anyone violating international conventions on the conduct of warfare or the protection of persons and property, or who violates other recognized laws and practices of war. Article 109 also applies to civilians (Military Criminal Code, art. 2, para. 9), albeit only in time of war. The Military Criminal Code also contains provisions modelled on the provisions of the Criminal Code mentioned above, and which could thus be applied in certain cases to recruitment in Switzerland. Although the Military Criminal Code does not include any provision analogous to article 271 of the Criminal Code, nevertheless, under article 7 of the Military Criminal Code, anyone subject to military criminal law also remains subject to ordinary criminal law for offences not covered by the Military Criminal Code.
37. In cases where children are recruited and used in hostilities within Switzerland by Swiss armed groups, the [1977] second Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions would cover children up to 15 years of age. Such an act would also – regardless of the age of the enlisted person – be covered by the criminal provisions of titles 12 and 13 of the Criminal Code (crimes or offences against public order and crimes or offences against the State and national defence, respectively), and in particular articles 260 (riot), 265 (high treason), 266 (offences against the independence of the Confederation), and 275 (offences against the Constitution); and also by the provisions of title 1 of the Criminal Code (crimes and offences against life or physical integrity). However, the criminal justice authorities have never encountered criminal recruitment or other such acts by armed groups, and Switzerland has no information or indication that armed groups or foreign States are recruiting children on Swiss territory in violation of article 271 of the Criminal Code. 
Switzerland, Initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, 15 July 2005, UN Doc. CRC/C/OPAC/CHE/1, submitted 28 July 2004, §§ 35–37.
[footnotes omitted]
Syrian Arab Republic
The Report on the Practice of the Syrian Arab Republic asserts that the Syrian Arab Republic considers Article 77 of the 1977 Additional Protocol I to be part of customary international law. 
Report on the Practice of the Syrian Arab Republic, 1997, Chapter 5.3.

Thailand
At the 27th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent in 1999, Thailand pledged “to prevent the recruitment of children below the age of 18 years into the situation of armed conflict”. 
Thailand, Pledge made at the 27th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, Geneva, 31 October–6 November 1999.

In 2004, in its second periodic report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Thailand stated that “the minimum age by law for conscription, pursuant to Military Service Act (1954), indicates that every Thai man who has attained the age of 20 years will be recruited into the armed forces or can volunteer to do so”. 
Thailand, Second periodic report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, 31 May 2005, UN Doc. CRC/C/83/Add.15, submitted 7 June 2004, § 507.

Uganda
In 2003, in its initial report to the Human Rights Committee, Uganda stated:
213. Article 210 of the Constitution of The Republic of Uganda makes Parliament responsible for making laws regulating the Uganda People’s defence forces (UPDF). For conscription into the army, as well as voluntary entry into the army, the minimum age is 18 years.
214. The National Resistance Army (conditions of Service) (men) Regulations S.I No. 7 of 1993 in regulation 5 (4) thereof provides that a recruiting officer shall not enrol a person under the apparent age of 18 years.
215. A recruiting officer who contravenes the said regulation 5 (4) would be guilty of conduct prejudicial to the good order and discipline of the Army Statute with the maximum punishment of dismissal with disgrace from the Army. 
Uganda, Initial report to the Human Rights Committee, 25 February 2003, UN Doc. CCPR/C/UGA/2003/1, submitted 14 February 2003, §§ 213–215.

In 2007, in its initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, Uganda stated:
16. The UPDF [Uganda People’s Defence Forces] Act, Cap 307, … provides that any person below the age of 18 years is not eligible for military recruitment. ...

19. … [I]mplementation of the UPDF Act has faced challenges in terms of verification of ages of candidates for recruitment. Registration of births in the country is weak resulting in many people lacking birth certificates that would prove their ages.…
20. … With support from UNICEF a comprehensive strategy for scaling up birth and death registration (BDR) in Uganda has been developed.…

25. … [S]ample statistical information from the UHRC [Uganda Human Rights Commission] on children below the age of 18 years voluntarily recruited into the national armed forces … provide evidence that some children could have found their way into the army. This may be attributed to the weakness in birth and registration and manipulation of the system by families and the Local Councils.

59. To prevent recruitment of children into the armed forces, the UPDF and other State security apparatus in collaboration with UNICEF, Save the Children in Uganda, GUSCO [Gulu Support the Children Organisation] and World Vision have come up with a comprehensive way of distributing child advocacy materials to inform communities. Radio programmes and Newsletters are run to sensitize the community on the dangers of encouraging the recruitment of children in armed conflict.
60. Special brochures are distributed to UPDF forces to drop as they carry out their routine patrols or operations in rebel infested areas. This is meant to sensitize the rebels and their captives on the need to stop recruiting children in armed conflict. 
Uganda, Initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, 17 July 2008, UN Doc. CRC/C/OPAC/UGA/1, submitted 16 August 2007, §§ 16, 19–20, 25 and 59–60.

In 2008, in its written reply to the Committee on the Rights of the Child concerning Uganda’s initial report under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, Uganda stated:
3. The Government of Uganda is still in the process of amending the Penal Code Act to criminalize the recruitment of children in armed forces. We are also in the process of amending the children’s act to include provisions which will prevent recruitment of the children in the armed forces. However, section 178 of the UPDF [Uganda People’s Defence Force] Act provides for sanctions against any military personnel who recruits children in the armed forces and for those persons not in the army but might be involved in abetting recruitment of children in the armed forces, they can be charged under the Penal Code Act.

5. The UPDF Act 2005 explicitly states under Section 52 that “… no person shall be enrolled into the Defence Forces unless he or she has attained 18 years of age …”. 
Uganda, Written replies of the Government of Uganda to the list of issues to be taken up in connection with the consideration of the initial report of Uganda under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, 8 September 2008, UN Doc. CRC/C/OPAC/UGA/Q/1/Add.1, submitted 5 September 2008, §§ 3 and 5.

In 2008, whilst responding to questions from the Committee on the Rights of the Child related to Uganda’s initial report under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, the Uganda delegate stated:
… The main problem in the recruitment process was how to ascertain the age of recruits. While the policy of the Ugandan military clearly prohibited recruitment of persons under the age of 18, false documents were often used to circumvent the prohibition. The Government had adopted a law that made the use of false documents punishable under the Penal Code; an improved birth registration system would help to reduce the problem in the future. Local and sub-county-level or municipality-level birth registrations were forwarded to the districts, and then to the central Government. In order to provide an incentive for registration, the Government had made birth registration a requirement for universal primary and secondary education. In the recruitment procedure, the Government was hoping to require the submission of official documents, or “long certificates”, which, if falsified, would incur criminal liability on the part of the person who issued or presented them. Currently, temporary documents, or “short certificates”, were still being accepted. 
Uganda, Statement before the Committee on the Rights of the Child during consideration of the initial report of Uganda under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, Geneva, 16 September, 2008, UN Doc. CRC/C/SR.1345 of 24 September 2008, § 31.

Ukraine
In 2008, in its first periodic report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, Ukraine stated:
8. The Constitution provides for military conscription with a view to preparing the population to defend the country. Under article 65 of the Constitution, citizens are obliged to defend their homeland and Ukrainian independence and territorial integrity, and respect its national symbols. Citizens perform military service in accordance with the law and are bound by the Constitution to defend their homeland and Ukrainian independence and territorial integrity.
9. Children under the age of 18 years are not conscripted into the Ukrainian Armed Forces. Under article 15 of the Military (General Conscription and Service) Act, physically fit males who have attained the age of 18 by the day of their enlistment but are not yet 25 years of age and who do not have the right to be exempt from or to defer national service are called up during times of peace.
10. Unlawful conscription for national service is punishable under the Code of Administrative Offences.

13. Ukrainian legislation identifies the following main (insofar as the Optional Protocol is concerned) categories of citizens who can be found in the country’s armed forces:
- Those called up for national service in times of peace after reaching 18 years of age (Military (General Conscription and Service) Act, art. 15)
- Those enlisted (contractually) for military service after reaching 19 years of age (Military (General Conscription and Service) Act, art. 20)
- Cadets or students of higher military academies or higher education institutes with military studies departments enlisted for military service or training on condition that they turn 17 in the year that they enrol in training (Military (General Conscription and Service) Act, art. 20)

Article 4 [of the 2000 Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict concerning the recruitment of children by armed groups]
15. … No cases of children under the age of 18 being enlisted or forcibly recruited for use in armed conflict were recorded in the 2006–2007 period. 
Ukraine, First periodic report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, 29 October 2009, UN Doc. CRC/C/OPAC/UKR/1, submitted 31 July 2008, §§ 8–10, 13 and 15.

In 2008, in its third and fourth periodic reports to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Ukraine stated:
1. Protection against economic exploitation, including child labour (article 32–38 [of the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child])
149. … The law prohibits the recruitment of children for the worst forms of child labour, and their participation in arduous tasks … The worst forms of child labour prohibited by law are the following:
- … forced or compulsory labour, including forced or compulsory recruitment of children for use in armed conflicts. 
Ukraine, Third and fourth periodic reports to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, 3 March 2010, UN Doc. CRC/C/UKR/3-4, submitted 26 September 2008, § 149.

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
In 2003, in reply to written questions in the House of Commons, the UK Secretary of State for International Development wrote:
International humanitarian law, as embodied in the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their Additional Protocols, prohibits the recruitment or use of children under 15 in armed conflict and provides for the protection of children, particularly those separated from their families. The Statute of the International Criminal Court, to which the UK is a state party and which has been incorporated into national law, makes the recruitment and/or use of children under 15 a war crime.
The European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, now enshrined in the Human Rights Act 1998, forbids the use of torture, inhuman or degrading treatment which may include the forcing of children to take part in hostilities.
The UK is a Party to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which makes particular provision for the protection of all children under 18 years. It prescribes that the best interests of the child should be a primary consideration, severely restricts the circumstances in which children may be removed from their parents and protects children against arbitrary interference with their privacy and liberty. This Convention, along with International Labour Organisation Convention 182 (which the UK has ratified), prohibits the use of children in the worst forms of labour; and Convention 182 specifically prohibits the forced or compulsory recruitment of children for use in armed conflict.
The UK expects to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict later this year. This provides that states parties must take all feasible measures to ensure that members of their armed forces who have not attained the age of 18 years do not take a direct part in hostilities, and that children under 18 years are not compulsorily recruited into their armed forces. Non-state actors, such as insurgent groups, are prohibited from ever recruiting or using in hostilities children under 18. We take the Protocol seriously. That is why before we ratify, we need to be clear that the detailed procedures and administrative guidelines for the armed forces are finalised. These will give concrete form to our commitment. MOD [Ministry of Defence] officials, in consultation with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, are in the final stages of drafting an Explanatory Memorandum which will explain the steps being taken to meet that commitment. As part of the ratification process, we will lay the Explanatory Memorandum (EM) before Parliament. This does not require any changes to UK legislation.
The UK has many laws that prohibit the activities usually associated with the use of child soldiers, such as assault, forcing a child to perform illegal acts, deprivation of their liberty and making children take harmful drugs and alcohol.

The most effective way of tackling the use of child soldiers is to prevent, reduce and resolve armed conflicts. This is part of the wider issue of the impact of armed conflict on children generally, their families and communities. In addressing this, my Department is working with other UK Government Departments and other governments through appropriate regional mechanisms, the non-governmental community and the multilateral system to this end. UNICEF, with the support of my Department and other governments, works to effect the disarmament, demobilisation and rehabilitation of child soldiers, particularly back into the community and prevent their re-recruitment. Through a multi-year capacity building programme supported by my Department, UNICEF are collecting data on the situation of children affected by armed conflict globally, to better inform policy, guidance and programming on the wide range of issues involved.
My Department has also been supporting the work of the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Children and Armed Conflict, whose work (primarily of advocacy and raising awareness of the issues at all levels) features prominently in the Secretary-General’s report of 26 November 2002 to the Security Council on this issue.
Through its representation on the Security Council, the Government have been closely involved in the passing of eight resolutions since August 1999 addressing the issue of child soldiers and other children affected by armed conflict, and are currently involved in negotiations for a further resolution to strengthen the ability of the international community to take action to prevent the recruitment and use of children in armed conflicts. Along with the vast majority of other states, the Government have also ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and is taking steps to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention preventing the use of children in armed conflict. 
United Kingdom, House of Commons, Written answer by the Secretary of State for International Development, Hansard, 30 January 2003, Vol. 398, Written Answers, cols. 965W–966W.

In 2003, in a declaration made upon ratification of the 2000 Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, the United Kingdom stated:
… 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 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. 
United Kingdom, Declaration made upon ratification of the 2000 Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, 24 June 2003.

In 2006, in a reply to a question concerning “the extent of the use of child soldiers in the conflict in Darfur”, the UK Minister of State for Trade and Investment stated:
In September 2006, a UN panel of experts reported the recruitment of child soldiers by parties to the conflict in Darfur. Recruitment of child soldiers is a breach of international humanitarian law and explicitly prohibited by article 24 of the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA). We have regularly made clear to the Government of Sudan that we expect them to uphold the commitments they have made under, in particular, the convention on the rights of the child and its optional protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict. We have also told the Sudan Liberation Army and Justice and Equality Movement that the recruitment and use of child soldiers is wholly unacceptable and in contravention of its obligations under the Abuja Security protocol of 8 November 2004, which commits both movements and the Government to stop recruiting children as combatants. 
United Kingdom, House of Commons, Written answer by the Minister of State for Trade and Investment, Department of Trade and Industry, Hansard, 20 October 2006, Vol. 450, Written Answers, col. 1526W.

In 2007, in its initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the 2000 Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, the United Kingdom stated:
Introduction
1. The United Kingdom ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict (the Optional Protocol) on 24 June 2003 and remains firmly committed to it. We recognize the importance of providing special treatment for young people under the age of 18 serving in the armed forces and accordingly we have robust and effective safeguards in place to ensure they are cared for properly and are not placed unnecessarily at risk. Every feasible step is taken in accordance with our obligations to prevent the involvement of young people under the age of 18 (under 18s) in hostilities.
2. The Government’s understanding of its obligations is clarified by the interpretive declaration it made upon signature and confirmed upon ratification. This made clear that the British Armed Forces would continue to recruit from age 16 but included a clear commitment to take all feasible measures to ensure those who had not yet reached the age of 18 did not take a direct part in hostilities. Accordingly, administrative guidelines and procedures are now in place to ensure that, wherever practicable, personnel aged under18 are withdrawn from their units before they are deployed on operations.

4. The United Kingdom made another declaration upon ratification concerning the minimum age of recruitment (age 16, in line with minimum school-leaving age) and on the safeguards it has in place to ensure that all recruitment of under 18s is genuinely voluntary and with the informed consent of the volunteer and his/her parents. The minimum recruitment age remains at 16 and there are no plans to change this. All recruitment into the British Armed Forces is voluntary and no applicant under 18 years of age may join unless their application is accompanied by the formal written consent of his/her parent or guardian. The age of anyone seeking to join the service is carefully checked against original birth certificates and other identity documents. The date of reference used when determining whether or not a person is eligible to join the armed forces is always their date of birth.

6. The most relevant provision of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) concerns the recruitment of children aged 15 into the armed forces. This Convention predates, and was largely superseded by, the provisions of the Optional Protocol. The Government considers that the above safeguards provide sufficient protection to under 18s serving in the armed forces and that they enable the United Kingdom to comply with its obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, including article 38, as well as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights.

Article 2
Compulsory recruitment
13. Compulsory recruitment into the British Armed Forces (National Service) was abolished in 1963. Successive Governments have declared the best way for the armed forces to maintain operational commitments is for them to be manned entirely by volunteers. The current Government takes the same view.
Article 3
Voluntary recruitment
14. In accordance with the declaration submitted by the Government upon ratification of the Optional Protocol, the minimum age at which individuals may join the British Armed Forces remains at 16 years, which broadly reflects the minimum statutory school-leaving age in the United Kingdom. Recruitment at the school-leaving age makes available to young persons entering the job market the significant training and other opportunities offered by the armed forces. A recent review by a distinguished human rights lawyer (the Deepcut Review) accepted that young people with suitable qualifications for a military career should continue to be able to enlist at 16, with a view to participating in all aspects of military duties from the age of 18, and the Government accepted this report …
15. All recruitment into the British Armed Forces is voluntary. The minimum age for applications to join the armed forces is 15 years, 9 months for the Royal Navy (the Navy) and Royal Air Force (RAF) and 15 years, 7 months for the Army for entry not before the individual’s sixteenth birthday. The Optional Protocol was ratified according to the legal processes required in the United Kingdom; this involved the Government ensuring that its laws and policies were compatible with the Protocol’s provisions, and in deciding on the terms of the binding declaration. There was no need to introduce new legislation or amend existing legislation in order to give effect to the Protocol, nor are there any judicial decisions relating to it. No distinction is made between 16- and 17-year-olds on the grounds that it is necessary to recruit from both age groups in order to secure the manpower needed to meet essential defence commitments and that it is difficult to discriminate on age grounds between equally qualified individuals.

Safeguards
27. The British Armed Forces are currently involved in a comprehensive joint review of all recruiting processes and procedures. The aim of the review is to harmonize individual service processes wherever practicable and to capture data on a single, joint IT system.
28. Upon ratification of the Optional Protocol, the United Kingdom announced the following safeguards in respect of voluntary recruitment into the armed forces:
- The United Kingdom Armed Forces are manned solely by volunteers; there is no compulsory recruitment;
- 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 both the individual and their parent(s)/guardian(s);
- 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.
These safeguards are still in place and continue to be applied rigorously.
Recruiting processes
29. The recruiting process is designed to protect the interests of the applicant at every stage. The process is the same for applicants under the age of 18 and those over 18, except for the mandatory written consents of parents/guardians at the application and attestation stages for under 18s. Extensive screening is carried out of the suitability for service of all applicants regardless of age …

Proof of age
31. At the initial interview, all candidates are asked to produce original birth certificates and other identity documents such as passports and driving licences so that their age can be checked by recruiting staff. The application cannot be processed until this has been done.
Minimum service/early discharge
32. The armed forces operate a policy whereby all new recruits under the age of 18 have a right of discharge within the first 6 months of service by giving not less than 14 days notice (28 days for the RAF) in writing to the commanding officer if they decide that a career in the armed forces is not for them. In addition, service personnel under 18 years have the right to discharge at any time before their eighteenth birthday provided they give the required notice.
33. As a further safeguard, personnel under the age of 18 years, 3 months, who have passed their statutory six month period for “discharge as of right”, and have, before reaching their eighteenth birthday, registered clear unhappiness at their choice of career, can request permission to leave the armed forces. This provision does not provide “discharge as of right” and the commanding officer has discretion to delay a decision on discharge if he has doubts about the permanence of the individual’s unhappiness. However, it is exceedingly rare for such an unhappy individual to be refused permission to leave.
34. These safeguards ensure that young servicemen or women under the age of 18 years may, if they wish, leave the armed forces before committing to adult service, and that any commitment to adult service is both considered and voluntary.

Information made available to volunteers
36. Great care is taken to explain the terms of enlistment and to ensure that the precise nature of the commitment is fully understood by potential recruits and their parents. This includes giving recruits copies of forms that explain the terms and conditions of service, including details on rights of discharge that will apply upon entering into service in the armed forces. Parents and guardians are required to consent to the recruitment of those under the age of 18, and we actively engage them in this process to ensure that they too are fully aware of these terms and conditions of service before giving their consent. Moreover, during the recruit selection process, the staff at the armed forces careers offices provide comprehensive written and verbal guidance to all potential recruits, in particular those under 18 years of age and their parents, regarding their terms of service and rights to discharge …

Article 6
Implementation and enforcement
52. We were satisfied at the time of ratification that the provisions of the Optional Protocol were already fully implemented in United Kingdom policies and procedures and therefore no amendment to legislation was required to give effect to the Protocol in domestic law. For the same reasons, no subsequent review of domestic legislation has been necessary. There are no plans to remove the reservations lodged at the time of ratification. Details of the new protective measures that have been introduced to reduce the risk of under 18s being involved in hostilities are set out in paragraphs 8 to 11 above.
53. We have recently conducted a comprehensive review of service law, which has led to the replacement of the current discipline acts with a new Armed Forces Act 2006. This review is in no way related to the Optional Protocol, but there is one matter which may be of interest to the Committee. Section 328 of the Armed Forces Act 2006 covers enlistment (voluntary enlistment only as the United Kingdom does not have compulsory enlistment). It provides vires to make regulations as to enlistment by statutory instrument, and provides (at section 328, paragraph (2), (c) and (d)) that the enlistment regulations may prohibit the enlistment of persons under the age of 18 without the consent of prescribed persons (it is intended that these will be parents or legal guardians), and deeming a person, in prescribed circumstances, to have attained or not have attained the age of 18. These provisions reflect the existing law.

60. No legal provisions criminalizing the recruitment of children have been adopted, as that is not necessary to ensure the effective implementation and enforcement of the Optional Protocol within the United Kingdom. 
United Kingdom, Initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, UN Doc. CCPR/C/OPAC/GBR/1, 3 September 2007, submitted 16 July 2007, §§ 1–2, 4, 6, 13–15, 27–29, 31–34, 36, 52–53 and 60.

In 2007, in its combined third and fourth periodic reports to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, the United Kingdom stated:
The UK made a declaration upon ratification of the [2000] Optional Protocol [on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict] concerning the minimum age of recruitment and on the safeguards to ensure that all recruitment of under 18s is genuinely voluntary and with informed consent of the volunteer and his or her parents. The minimum recruitment age remains at 16 and there are no plans to change this. All recruitment into the UK Armed Forces is voluntary and no applicant under 18 years of age may join the Armed Forces unless their application is supported by the formal written consent of his/her parent or guardian. 
United Kingdom, Third and fourth periodic reports to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, 25 February 2008, UN Doc. CRC/C/GBR/4, submitted 16 July 2007, § 632.

In 2007, in a written answer to a question in the House of Commons, the UK Minister of State for the Middle East, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, wrote:
We have been seriously concerned by reports that have criticised parties to the Sri Lanka conflict including the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and the Karuna faction for the recruitment and use of child soldiers in violation of applicable international law. We deplore this practice: there can be no excuse for failing to observe such basic human rights. The UK is a member of the UN Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict. We fully support the Working Group’s conclusions of 13 June 2007, which strongly condemned the unlawful recruitment and use of child soldiers and all other violations and abuses committed against children by the LTTE and the Karuna faction and called for an immediate end to these practices. 
United Kingdom, House of Commons, Written answer by the Minister of State for Middle East, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Hansard, 29 October 2007, Vol. 465, Written Answers, col. 825–826W.

United States of America
In 1996, during a debate in the UN Security Council on the situation in Liberia, the United States denounced the practice of recruiting children for combat and called it an “abhorrent practice”. 
United States, Statement before the UN Security Council, UN Doc. S/PV.3694, 30 August 1996, p. 15.

According to the Report on US Practice, “Articles 4, 5 and 6 [of the 1977 Additional Protocol II] reflect general US policy on treatment of persons in the power of an adverse party in armed conflicts governed by common Article 3” of the 1949 Geneva Conventions. 
Report on US Practice, 1997, Chapter 5.3.

In 2005, in its third periodic report to the Human Rights Committee, the United States stated: “Under U.S. law, in order to serve in any branch of the U.S. military, a person must be at least 18 years of age, or at least 17 years of age and have parental consent.” 
United States, Third periodic report to the Human Rights Committee, 29 November 2005, UN Doc. CCPR/C/USA/3, § 378.

In 2007, in its initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the 2000 Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, the United States stated:
18. Article 2 [of the Optional Protocol] prohibits States Parties from forcibly or compulsorily recruiting into military service anyone under 18. The United States does not permit compulsory recruitment of any person under 18 for any type of military service.

20. Article 3(1) obliges States Parties to raise the minimum age for voluntary recruitment into their national armed forces from 15 years, which is the minimum age provided in Article 38(3) of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and in Article 77(2) of Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions. The United States expressed the following understanding in order to clarify the nature of the obligation it assumed under Article 3(1):
The United States understands that Article 3 obliges States Parties to raise the minimum age for voluntary recruitment into their national armed forces from the current international standard of age 15.
21. Article 3(1) states that in raising the age for voluntary recruitment States Parties shall “take account” of the “principles” contained in Article 38(3) of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and recognize that persons under the age of 18 are entitled to special protection. In this regard, Article 38(3) states that “[i]n recruiting among those persons who have attained the age of fifteen years but who have not attained the age of eighteen years, States Parties shall endeavour to give priority to those who are oldest.” This provision is compatible with the long-standing U.S. practice of permitting 17-year-olds, but not those who are younger, to volunteer for service in the Armed Forces. The Department of Defense goal is that at least 90% of new recruits should have high school diplomas, but many enlistment contracts are signed with high school seniors who may be as young as 17. While waiting for graduation, these individuals are placed in the Delayed Entry Program. Most of these individuals turn 18 before graduating from high school and shipping to basic training. Of the nearly 175,000 new enlistees each year, only about 7,500 (just over 4%) are 17 when they ship to basic training, and nearly all of those (80%) will turn 18 while in training. At no time since 1982 has the percentage of 17-year-old recruits into the Armed Forces exceeded 8%. Qualified 17-year-olds will remain an integral part of the U.S. military’s recruiting efforts into the foreseeable future, but it is not expected that their numbers will fluctuate significantly, or dominate the Armed Forces’ recruiting pool. No one under age 17 is eligible for recruitment, including for participation in the Delayed Entry Program. 
United States, Initial Report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child concerning the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, U.N. Doc. CRC/C/OPAC/USA/1 (2007), 22 June 2007, submitted on 8 May 2007, §§ 18, 20 and 21.

In May 2008, in a joint press briefing given in Geneva by the US Ambassador-at-Large and Director, Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, and by the Deputy Assistant Secretary, Detainee Affairs, Department of Defense, the Defense representative stated:
[W]e recognize it is unfortunate that people [children] are being … recruited into the armed forces. The U.S. government takes a leading role worldwide in trying to stop child soldiering. We’ve spent more than $10 million on reintegration programs and programs to stop recruiting of child soldiers. We’ve spent more than $24 million in trying to prevent children from being recruited into armed forces and providing other employment opportunities. This is something the U.S. takes very seriously. 
United States, Statement by the Deputy Assistant Secretary, Detainee Affairs, Department of Defense, at a press briefing with the Ambassador-at-Large and Director, Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, Geneva, 21 May 2008.

Uruguay
Upon ratification of the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child, Uruguay stated that it “will not under any circumstances recruit persons who have not attained the age of 18 years”. 
Uruguay, Declarations made upon ratification of the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child, 20 November 1990, reprinted in UN Doc. CRC/C/2/Rev.4, 28 July 1995, p. 32.

At the 27th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent in 1999, Uruguay pledged “to promote the adoption of national and international standards prohibiting the military recruitment … in armed conflicts of persons under 18 years of age”. 
Uruguay, Pledge made at the 27th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, Geneva, 31 October–6 November 1999.

In 2003, in its second periodic report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Uruguay stated: “Compulsory military service has not existed in Uruguay for over 50 years. All enlistment is voluntary; it is illegal to enlist anyone under the age of 18 with no exceptions even in time of war.” 
Uruguay, Second periodic report of Uruguay to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, 13 October 2006, UN Doc. CRC/C/URY/2, submitted 18 December 2003, § 36.

Uruguay also stated:
Uruguay ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict by Act No. 17483 on 8 May 2005. In line with the reservation entered by Uruguay at the time it ratified the Convention, recruitment into the armed forces is only possible from the age of 18. 
Uruguay, Second periodic report of Uruguay to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, 13 October 2006, UN Doc. CRC/C/URY/2, submitted 18 December 2003, § 327.

Viet Nam
In 2005, in its initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, Viet Nam referred to certain relevant provisions in its Law on Military Service (1981):
Article 12: “Male citizens having reached the age of eighteen can enlist in the armed forces; the recruitment age ranges from eighteen to twenty-seven years old.”
Article 13: “Male citizens turning seventeen and having the desire to serve long-term in the military, who have obtained the qualifications offered by the Minister of National Defense, may be accepted into military schools and be recognized as servicemen on active service.”
Article 20: “Every year, male citizens turning seventeen enlisted by the Military Commander in Chief of the district, small town or city under the authority of the province have to register for military service at the military office.” 
Viet Nam, Initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, UN Doc. CRC/C/OPAC/VNM/1, 12 December 2005, submitted 8 November 2005, §§ 16, 20 and 41.

Viet Nam further stated: “The right of children under eighteen not to join the armed forces or be … recruited as mercenaries is strictly enforced.” 
Viet Nam, Initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, UN Doc. CRC/C/OPAC/VNM/1, 12 December 2005, submitted 8 November 2005, § 40.

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UN Security Council
In a resolution adopted in 1996 on the situation in Liberia, the UN Security Council condemned “the practice of some factions of recruiting … children for combat”. It referred to such practice as “inhumane and abhorrent”. 
UN Security Council, Res. 1071, 30 August 1996, § 9, voting record: 15-0-0.

In a further resolution on the same subject adopted the same year, the Security Council:
Condemns in the strongest possible terms the practice of recruiting … children for combat and demands that the warring parties immediately cease this inhumane and abhorrent activity and release all child soldiers for demobilization. 
UN Security Council, Res. 1083, 27 November 1996, § 6, voting record: 15-0-0.

In a resolution adopted in 1999 on children in armed conflicts, the UN Security Council strongly condemned “the targeting of children in situations of armed conflict, including … recruitment … of children in armed conflict in violation of international law”. 
UN Security Council, Res. 1261, 25 August 1999, § 2, voting record: 15-0-0.

In a resolution adopted in 2000 on the protection of children in situations of armed conflict, the UN Security Council:
Requests parties to armed conflict to include, where appropriate, provisions for the protection of children, including the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of child combatants, in peace negotiations and in peace agreements and the involvement of children, where possible, in these processes. 
UN Security Council, Res. 1314, 11 August 2000, § 11, voting record: 15-0-0.

In a resolution adopted in 2003 on children and armed conflict, the UN Security Council:
Noting the fact that the conscription or enlistment of children under the age of 15 into the national armed forces or using them to participate actively in hostilities is classified as a war crime by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, …

3. Calls upon all parties to armed conflict, who are recruiting or using children in violation of the international obligations applicable to them, to immediately halt such recruitment or use of children;

5. Notes with concern the list [annexed to the report of the Secretary-General of 26 November 2002, related to the protection of children affected by armed conflict], and calls upon all States identified in this list to provide information on steps they have taken to halt their recruitment or use of children in armed conflict in violation of the international obligations applicable to them. 
UN Security Council, Res. 1460, 30 January 2003, preamble and §§ 3 and 5, voting record: 15-0-0.

In a resolution adopted in 2003 on the situation concerning the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the UN Security Council:
Reiterates its demand expressed in its resolution 1460 that all parties to the conflict provide information without delay on steps they have taken to halt their recruitment or use of children in armed conflict in violation of the international obligations applicable to them, as well as its demands with regard to the protection of children contained in its resolutions 1261, 1314, 1379 and 1460. 
UN Security Council, Res. 1468, 20 March 2003, § 15, voting record: 15-0-0.

In a resolution adopted in 2003 on the situation in Côte d’Ivoire, the UN Security Council demanded that “in accordance with its resolution 1460 (2003), all parties to the conflict who are recruiting or using children in violation of the international obligations applicable to them, immediately halt such recruitment or use of children”. 
UN Security Council, Res. 1479, 13 May 2003, § 15, voting record: 15-0-0.

In a resolution adopted in 2003 on the situation concerning the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the UN Security Council:
Strongly condemns the continued recruitment and use of children in the hostilities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, especially in North and South Kivu and in Ituri, and reiterates the request addressed to all the parties, in Security Council resolution 1460 (2003) to provide the Special Representative of the Secretary-General with information on the measures that they have taken to put an end to the recruitment and use of children in their armed components, as well as the requests concerning the protection of children set forth in resolution 1261 (1999) and subsequent resolutions. 
UN Security Council, Res. 1493, 28 July 2003, § 13, voting record: 15-0-0.

In a resolution adopted in 2004 on children in armed conflict, the UN Security Council:
Noting the fact that the conscription or enlistment of children under the age of 15 or using them to participate actively in hostilities in both international and non-international armed conflict is classified as a war crime by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, …

1. Strongly condemns the recruitment and use of child soldiers by parties to armed conflict in violation of international obligations applicable to them, …

5. Takes note with deep concern of the continued recruitment and use of children by parties mentioned in the Secretary-General’s report [of 10 November 2003] in situations of armed conflict which are on its agenda, in violation of applicable international law relating to the rights and protection of children …
6. Also takes note with deep concern of the continued recruitment and use of children by parties in other situations of armed conflict mentioned in the Secretary-General’s report, in violation of applicable international law relating to the rights and protection of children, calls on these parties to halt immediately their recruitment or use of children and expresses, on the basis of timely, objective, accurate and reliable information received from relevant stakeholders, its intention to consider taking appropriate steps to further address this issue, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, its resolutions 1379 (2001) and 1460 (2003) and the present resolution;

9. Calls upon States and the United Nations system to recognize the important role of education in conflict areas in halting and preventing recruitment and re-recruitment of children contrary to the obligations of parties to conflict. 
UN Security Council, Res. 1539, 22 April 2004, preamble and §§ 1, 5–6 and 9, voting record: 15-0-0.

In a resolution adopted in 2005 on children and armed conflict, the UN Security Council:
1. Strongly condemns the recruitment and use of child soldiers by parties to armed conflict in violation of international obligations applicable to them and all other violations and abuses committed against children in situations of armed conflict;

13. Welcomes recent initiatives by regional and subregional organizations and arrangements for the protection of children affected by armed conflict, and encourages continued mainstreaming of child protection into their advocacy, policies and programmes; … sub- and interregional initiatives to end activities harmful to children in times of conflict, in particular cross-border recruitment and abduction of children, illicit movement of small arms, and illicit trade in natural resources through the development and implementation of guidelines on children and armed conflict;

16. Urges Member States, United Nations entities, regional and subregional organizations and other parties concerned, to take appropriate measures to control illicit subregional and cross-border activities harmful to children, including illicit exploitation of natural resources, illicit trade in small arms, abduction of children and their use and recruitment as soldiers as well as other violations and abuses committed against children in situations of armed conflict in violation of applicable international law. 
UN Security Council, Res. 1612, 26 July 2005, §§ 1, 13 and 16, voting record: 15-0-0.

In a resolution adopted in 2006 on the protection of civilians in armed conflict, the UN Security Council:
Reaffirms also its condemnation in the strongest terms of all acts of violence or abuses committed against civilians in situations of armed conflict in violation of applicable international obligations with respect in particular to … (iv) the recruitment and use of child soldiers … and demands that all parties put an end to such practices. 
UN Security Council, Res. 1674, 28 April 2006, § 5, voting record: 15-0-0.

In a resolution adopted in 2006 on the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the UN Security Council:
12. Recalls the terms of paragraph 13 of resolution 1493, and once again strongly condemns the continued use and recruitment of children in the hostilities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo;
13. Decides that, for a period expiring on 31 July 2007, the provisions of paragraphs 13 to 16 of resolution 1596 [referring to the requirement of States to take measures to prevent the entry into or transit through their territories of certain individuals] shall extend to the following individuals, operating in the Democratic Republic of the Congo …
– Political and military leaders recruiting or using children in armed conflict in violation of applicable international law;
– Individuals committing serious violations of international law involving the targeting of children in situations of armed conflict, including killing and maiming, sexual violence, abduction and forced displacement. 
UN Security Council, Res. 1698, 31 July 2006, §§ 12–13, voting record: 15-0-0.

In a resolution adopted in 2007 on the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the UN Security Council:
Recalling its resolution 1612 (2005) and its previous resolutions on children and armed conflict, and once again strongly condemning the continued recruitment and use of children in violation of applicable international law, in the hostilities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. 
UN Security Council, Res. 1771, 10 August 2007, preamble, voting record: 15-0-0.

In a resolution adopted in 2007 on the situation in Chad, the Central African Republic and the subregion, the UN Security Council:
Emphasizing the need to preserve the civilian nature of the refugee camps and internally displaced persons sites and to prevent any recruitment of individuals, including children, which might be carried out in or around the camps by armed groups,

18. Takes note of the measures already undertaken by the authorities of Chad to put an end to the recruitment and use of children by armed groups, encourages them to pursue their cooperation with United Nations bodies, particularly UNICEF, and calls on all the parties involved to ensure that children are protected. 
UN Security Council, Res. 1778, 25 September 2007, preamble and § 18, voting record: 15-0-0.

In a resolution adopted in 2007 on the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the UN Security Council:
3. … also demands, recalling its resolution 1698 (2006), that all armed groups, in particular the forces of Laurent Nkunda and the FDLR [Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda], immediately stop recruiting and using children and release all children associated with them;

15. Reiterates its call upon the Congolese authorities to put an end to impunity, by bringing to justice without delay perpetrators of grave violations of human rights and of international humanitarian law, with special attention to those responsible for recruitment and use of children. 
UN Security Council, Res. 1794, 21 December 2007, §§ 3 and 15. voting record: 15-0-0.

In 1998, in a statement by its President on children and armed conflict, the UN Security Council stated:
The Security Council strongly condemns … [the] recruitment [of children] … in violation of international law, and calls upon all parties concerned to put an end to such activities.
The Security Council calls upon all parties concerned to comply strictly with their obligations under international law, in particular their obligations under the Geneva Conventions of 1949, the Additional Protocols of 1977 and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child of 1989. …

The Security Council, while dealing with situations of armed conflict, expresses its readiness … to support efforts aimed at obtaining commitments to put to an end the recruitment … of children in armed conflicts … [and] to give special consideration to the … demobilization of child soldiers. 
UN Security Council, Statement by the President, UN Doc. S/PRST/1998/18, 29 June 1998.

In 1998, in a statement by its President, the UN Security Council condemned the recruitment of child soldiers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. 
UN Security Council, Statement by the President, UN Doc. S/PRST/1998/26, 31 August 1998.

In 2004, in a statement by its President on the protection of civilians in armed conflict, the UN Security Council strongly condemned the “recruitment and use of child soldiers by parties to armed conflict in violation of international obligations applicable to them”. 
UN Security Council, Statement by the President, UN Doc. S/PRST/2004/46, 14 December 2004, p. 2.

In 2005, in a statement by its President regarding children and armed conflict, the UN Security Council stated:
The Security Council has considered the matter of children and armed conflict and took note with deep concern of the continued recruitment and use of children by parties to armed conflict in violation of international obligations applicable to them, as reported by the Secretary-General in his fifth report (S/2005/72). It reiterates its commitment to address in all its forms the impact of armed conflict on children.
The Council reaffirms its strong condemnation of the recruitment and use of child soldiers by parties to armed conflict in violation of international obligations applicable to them and of all other violations and abuses committed against children in situations of armed conflict. It urges all parties to armed conflict to halt immediately such intolerable practices.
The Council recalls all its previous resolutions, which provide a comprehensive framework for addressing the protection of children affected by armed conflict. It reiterates its determination to ensure respect for its resolutions and other international norms and standards for the protection of children affected by armed conflict.
The Council recalls particularly paragraph 2 of its resolution 1539 (2004) dated 22 April 2004, requesting the Secretary-General, taking into account the proposals contained in his report as well as any other relevant elements, to devise urgently an action plan for a systematic and comprehensive monitoring and reporting mechanism, which utilizes expertise from the United Nations system and the contributions of national Governments, regional organizations, non-governmental organizations in their advisory capacity and various civil society actors, in order to provide timely, objective, accurate and reliable information on the recruitment and use of child soldiers in violation of applicable international law and on other violations and abuses committed against children affected by armed conflict, for consideration in taking appropriate action.
The Council takes note of the Secretary-General’s proposal for an Action Plan for the establishment of a monitoring, reporting and compliance mechanism, in accordance with this request and with paragraph 15 (b) of resolution 1539 (2004) and has started consideration of the Secretary-General’s proposal.
The Council reiterates the crucial need for a systematic and comprehensive monitoring and reporting mechanism, and its determination to ensure compliance and to put an end to impunity. The Council further reiterates its intention to complete expeditiously the process of the establishment of the mechanism.
In this regard, it has started work on a new resolution with the aim of its early adoption and with due consideration of views expressed by the United Nations Member States during the open debate held on 23 February 2005, in order to take forward the implementation of its previous resolutions with a view to ending the recruitment or use of child soldiers in violation of applicable international law and other violations and abuses committed against children affected by armed conflict situations, and promoting their reintegration and rehabilitation. 
UN Security Council, Statement by the President, UN Doc. S/PRST/2005/8, 23 February 2005, pp. 1–2.

In 2006, in a statement by its President on children and armed conflict, the UN Security Council stated:
The Security Council strongly condemns the continuing recruitment and use of children in armed conflict in violation of applicable international law … by parties to armed conflict.

The Security Council also reiterates its call on relevant parties to armed conflict that have not already done so to prepare and implement, as a matter of priority, concrete time-bound action plans to halt recruitment and use of children in violation of applicable international law, as called for in Security Council resolution 1539 (2004). 
UN Security Council, Statement by the President, UN Doc. S/PRST/2006/48, 28 November 2006, p. 2.

In 2007, in a statement by its President on the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the UN Security Council stated:
The Security Council calls on the mixed brigades and their commanders to integrate into the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC) and to stop recruiting activities. The Council condemns the recruitment of children in violation of applicable international law and urges the above-mentioned elements to release all children associated with them. 
UN Security Council, Statement by the President, UN Doc. S/PRST/2007/28, 23 July 2007, p. 1.

UN General Assembly
In a resolution adopted in 2000 on the situation of human rights in the Sudan, the UN General Assembly welcomed the commitments undertaken by the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) “not to recruit into its armed forces children under the age of eighteen and to demobilize all child soldiers still remaining in the military and hand them over to the competent civil authorities for reintegration. 
UN General Assembly, Res. 55/116, 4 December 2000, § 1(m), voting record: 85-32-49-23.

In a resolution adopted in 2003 on Afghanistan, the UN General Assembly:
welcomes … the accession of the Transitional Administration on 24 September 2003 to the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict, and urges Afghan groups to refrain from the recruitment or use of children contrary to international standards, while stressing the importance of demobilizing and reintegrating child soldiers and other war-affected children. 
UN General Assembly, Res. 58/27 B, 5 December 2003, § 14, adopted without a vote.

In a resolution adopted in 2003 on special assistance for the economic recovery and reconstruction of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the UN General Assembly:
Urges all parties concerned in the region to cease any recruitment, training and use of child soldiers, which are contrary to international law, welcomes the initial steps taken by the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to demobilize and reintegrate child soldiers, in particular through education, and urges the Government and all parties to continue their efforts in this context, and to take into account the particular needs of girl ex-combatants. 
UN General Assembly, Res. 58/123, 17 December 2003, § 9, voting record: 169-1-0-21.

In a resolution adopted in 2003 on assistance to unaccompanied refugee minors, the UN General Assembly:
Bearing in mind that unaccompanied refugee minors are among the most vulnerable refugees and the most at risk of neglect, violence, forced military recruitment, sexual assault, abuse and vulnerability to infectious disease, such as human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, malaria and tuberculosis, and therefore require special assistance and care,

7. Calls upon all States and other parties to armed conflict to comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law, human rights law and refugee law and, in this regard, calls upon States parties to respect fully the provisions of the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 and related instruments, and to respect the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which accord children affected by armed conflict special protection and treatment;
8. Condemns all acts of exploitation of unaccompanied refugee minors, including their use as soldiers or human shields in armed conflict and their forced recruitment into military forces, and any other acts that endanger their safety and personal security;
9. Acknowledges that education is among the most effective initial means of ensuring protection for unaccompanied minors, especially girls, by shielding them from exploitative activities such as child labour, military recruitment or sexual exploitation and abuse. 
UN General Assembly, Res. 58/150, 22 December 2003, preamble and §§ 7–9, adopted without a vote.

In a resolution adopted in 2003 on the rights of the child, the UN General Assembly:
44. Recognizes the inclusion in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, as a war crime, of crimes involving sexual violence and crimes of conscripting or enlisting children under the age of 15 years or using them to participate actively in hostilities in both international and non-international armed conflicts;
45. Urges all States and all other parties to armed conflicts to end the recruitment and use of children in situations of armed conflict contrary to international law and to ensure their demobilization, effective disarmament and rehabilitation, physical and psychological recovery and reintegration into society;
46. Urges all States:
(a) When ratifying the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict, to raise the minimum age for voluntary recruitment of persons into their national armed forces from that set out in article 38, paragraph 3, of the Convention, bearing in mind that under the Convention persons below the age of 18 years are entitled to special protection, and to adopt safeguards to ensure that such recruitment is not forced or coerced;
(b) To protect children affected by armed conflict, in particular to protect them from acts that constitute violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law and to ensure that they receive timely, effective and unhindered humanitarian assistance as well as support for physical and psychological recovery. 
UN General Assembly, Res. 58/157, 22 December 2003, §§ 44–46, voting record: 179-1-0-11.

In a resolution adopted in 2003 on the situation of human rights in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the UN General Assembly:
2. Condemns:

(g) The continuing recruitment and use of child soldiers by armed forces and groups, in particular in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which are contrary to international law;

4. Urges all parties to the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo:

(e) To put an immediate end to the recruitment and use of child soldiers, which are in contravention of international law and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child. 
UN General Assembly, Res. 58/196, 22 December 2003, §§ 2(g) and 4(e), voting record: 81-2-91-17.

In a resolution adopted in 2003 on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, the UN General Assembly urged the Government of Myanmar to “put an immediate end to the recruitment and use of child soldiers, inter alia, by some armed ethnic groups, and ensure their disarmament, demobilization and reintegration”. 
UN General Assembly, Res. 58/247, 23 December 2003, § 6(c), adopted without a vote.

In a resolution adopted in 2004 on emergency international assistance for peace, normalcy and reconstruction of war-stricken Afghanistan, the UN General Assembly:
Welcomes the progress of the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process for ex-combatants, including child soldiers, by the Government of Afghanistan and the efforts of the international community to assist in this process, and urges all Afghan parties to continue their efforts in this regard; recognizing the efforts of the Government of Afghanistan, reiterates the importance of ending the use of children contrary to international law, while welcoming the recent accession by Afghanistan to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Optional Protocol thereto on the involvement of children in armed conflict; and stresses the importance of the demobilization and reintegration of child soldiers and care for other war-affected children, and notes in this regard the value of preparing an action plan to address this issue. 
UN General Assembly, Res. 59/112 B, 8 December 2004, § 4, adopted without a vote.

In a resolution adopted in 2004 on the situation of human rights in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the UN General Assembly urged all parties to the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo:
To put an immediate end to the recruitment and use of child soldiers, which is contrary to international law and to the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, with the understanding that, under the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Optional Protocol thereto on the involvement of children in armed conflict, and in accordance with Security Council resolution 1539 (2004) of 22 April 2004 on children and armed conflict, persons under the age of 18 are entitled to special protection, and to provide information without delay on measures taken to discontinue such practices. 
UN General Assembly, Res. 59/207, 20 December 2004, § 5(e), voting record: 76-2-100-13.

In a resolution adopted in 2004 on the rights of the child, the UN General Assembly:
35. Further calls upon all States to protect refugee, asylum-seeking and internally displaced children, in particular those … who are particularly exposed to risks in connection with armed conflict, such as recruitment, …

45. Recognizes the inclusion in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, as a war crime, of … crimes of conscripting or enlisting children under the age of 15 years or using them to participate actively in hostilities in both international and non-international armed conflicts;
46. Strongly condemns any recruitment and use of children in armed conflict contrary to international law, and urges all States and other parties to armed conflict that are engaged in such practices to end them;
47. Recognizes the efforts of States, the United Nations system and civil society to end the recruitment and use of children in armed conflict;
48. Calls upon States:
(a) When ratifying the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict, to raise the minimum age for voluntary recruitment of persons into the national armed forces from that set out in article 38, paragraph 3, of the Convention, bearing in mind that under the Convention persons under 18 years of age are entitled to special protection, and to adopt safeguards to ensure that such recruitment is not forced or coerced;

(c) To take all feasible measures, as a matter of priority, to prevent the recruitment and use of children by armed groups, as distinct from the armed forces of a State, including the adoption of legal measures necessary to prohibit and criminalize such practices. 
UN General Assembly, Res. 59/261, 23 December 2004, §§ 35, 45–47, 48(a) and (c), voting record: 166-2-1-22.

In a resolution adopted in 2004 on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, the UN General Assembly:
1. Welcomes:

(c) The establishment by the Government of a committee for the prevention of military recruitment of underage children …

3. Calls upon the Government of Myanmar:

(i) To put an immediate end to the recruitment and use of child soldiers and to extend full cooperation to relevant international organizations in order to ensure the demobilization of child soldiers. 
UN General Assembly, Res. 59/263, 23 December 2004, §§ 1(c) and 3(i), adopted without a vote.

In a resolution adopted in 2005 on the 2005 World Summit Outcome, the UN General Assembly called upon States “to take effective measures, as appropriate, to prevent the recruitment and use of children in armed conflict, contrary to international law, by armed forces and groups, and to prohibit and criminalize such practices”. 
UN General Assembly, Res. 60/1, 16 September 2005, § 117, adopted without a vote.

In a resolution adopted in 2005 on emergency international assistance for peace, normalcy and reconstruction of war-stricken Afghanistan, the UN General Assembly:
Expresses its concern about the recruitment and use of child soldiers by illegal armed groups in Afghanistan, reiterates the importance of ending the use of children contrary to international law, and welcomes the accession by Afghanistan to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the two optional protocols thereto. 
UN General Assembly, Res. 60/32 B, 30 November 2005, § 5, adopted without a vote.

In a resolution adopted in 2005 on the situation of human rights in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the UN General Assembly urged all parties to the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo:
To put an immediate end to the recruitment and use of child soldiers, which is contrary to international law and to the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, with the understanding that, under the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Optional Protocol thereto on the involvement of children in armed conflict, and in accordance with Security Council resolutions 1539 (2004) of 22 April 2004 and 1612 (2005) of 26 July 2005 on children and armed conflict, persons under the age of 18 are entitled to special protection. 
UN General Assembly, Res. 60/170, 16 December 2005, § 5(c), voting record: 102-3-67-19.

In a resolution adopted in 2005 on the rights of the child, the UN General Assembly:
31. Strongly condemns any recruitment or use of children in armed conflict contrary to international law, as well as other violations and abuses committed against children affected by armed conflict, and urges all States and other parties to armed conflict that are engaged in such practices to end them;

33. Calls upon States:
(a) When ratifying the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict, to raise the minimum age for voluntary recruitment of persons into the national armed forces from that set out in article 38, paragraph 3, of the Convention, bearing in mind that under the Convention persons under 18 years of age are entitled to special protection, and to adopt safeguards to ensure that such recruitment is not forced or coerced;

(d) To take all necessary measures, in accordance with international humanitarian law and human rights law, as a matter of priority, to prevent the recruitment and use of children by armed groups, as distinct from the armed forces of a State, including the adoption of policies that do not tolerate the recruitment and use of children in armed conflict, and legal measures necessary to prohibit and criminalize such practices. 
UN General Assembly, Res. 60/231, 23 December 2005, §§ 31, 33(a) and (d), voting record: 130-1-0-60.

In a resolution adopted in 2005 on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, the UN General Assembly:
1. Welcomes:

(e) The establishment by the Government of a committee for the prevention of military recruitment of underage soldiers and the adoption in November 2004 of an outline plan of action to address the issues of underage recruitment and child soldiers;

2. Expresses grave concern at:
(a) The …continuing recruitment and use of child soldiers …

3. Strongly calls upon the Government of Myanmar:

(e) To put an immediate end to the recruitment and use of child soldiers and to extend full cooperation to relevant international organizations in order to ensure the demobilization of child soldiers, their return home and their rehabilitation in accordance with Security Council resolutions 1539 (2004) of 22 April 2004 and 1612 (2005), and stresses the need for the Government of Myanmar to maintain close dialogue with the United Nations Children’s Fund and to cooperate with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict in accordance with Council resolutions 1539 (2004) and 1612 (2005). 
UN General Assembly, Res. 60/233, 23 December 2005, §§ 1(e), 2(a) and 3(e), adopted without a vote.

In a resolution adopted in 2006 on the situation in Afghanistan, the UN General Assembly expressed its concern about “the recruitment and use of child soldiers by illegal armed groups in Afghanistan” and reiterated “the importance of ending the use of children contrary to international law”. 
UN General Assembly, Res. 61/18, 28 November 2006, § 13, adopted without a vote.

In a resolution adopted in 2006 on the rights of the child, the UN General Assembly:
16. Also condemns the abduction of children, in particular extortive abduction and abduction of children in situations of armed conflict, including for the recruitment and use of children in armed conflicts, and urges States to take all appropriate measures to secure their unconditional release, rehabilitation, reintegration and reunification with their families;

35. Strongly condemns any recruitment or use of children in armed conflict contrary to international law, as well as other violations and abuses committed against children affected by armed conflict, and urges all States and other parties to armed conflict that are engaged in such practices to end them;

36. Calls upon States:
(a) When ratifying the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict, to raise the minimum age for voluntary recruitment of persons into the national armed forces from that set out in article 38, paragraph 3, of the Convention, bearing in mind that under the Convention persons under 18 years of age are entitled to special protection, and to adopt safeguards to ensure that such recruitment is not forced or coerced;

(f) To take all necessary measures, in accordance with international humanitarian law and human rights law, as a matter of priority, to prevent the recruitment and use of children by armed groups, as distinct from the armed forces of a State, including the adoption of policies that do not tolerate the recruitment and use of children in armed conflict, and legal measures necessary to prohibit and criminalize such practices. 
UN General Assembly, Res. 61/146, 19 December 2006, §§ 16, 35, 36(a) and (f), voting record: 185-1-0-6.

In a resolution adopted in 2006 on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, the UN General Assembly:
1. Welcomes:

(e) The establishment by the Government of Myanmar of a committee for the prevention of military recruitment of underage soldiers and the adoption in November 2004 of an outline plan of action to address the issues of underage recruitment and child soldiers, and the declared willingness of the Government to cooperate with the United Nations and other international organizations to address these issues;

2. Expresses grave concern at:
(a) The … continuing recruitment and use of child soldiers …

3. Strongly calls upon the Government of Myanmar:

(c) To put an immediate end to the recruitment and use of child soldiers. 
UN General Assembly, Res. 61/232, 22 December 2006, §§ 1(e), 2(a) and 3(c), voting record: 82-25-45-40.

In a resolution adopted in 2007 on the situation in Afghanistan, the UN General Assembly:
Expresses its concern about the ongoing recruitment and use of child soldiers by illegal armed and terrorist groups in Afghanistan, [and] reiterates the importance of implementing Security Council resolution 1612 (2005) on children and armed conflict and of ending the use of children contrary to international law. 
UN General Assembly, Res. 62/6, 11 November 2007, § 13, adopted without a vote.

In a resolution adopted in 2007 on the rights of the child, the UN General Assembly:
39. Strongly condemns any recruitment or use of children in armed conflict contrary to international law, as well as other violations and abuses committed against children affected by armed conflict, and urges all States and other parties to armed conflict that are engaged in such practices to end them;

41. Calls upon States:
(a) When ratifying the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict, to raise the minimum age for voluntary recruitment of persons into the national armed forces from that set out in article 38, paragraph 3, of the Convention, bearing in mind that under the Convention persons under 18 years of age are entitled to special protection, and to adopt safeguards to ensure that such recruitment is not forced or coerced;

(f) To take all feasible measures, in accordance with international humanitarian law and human rights law, as a matter of priority, to prevent the recruitment and use of children by armed groups, as distinct from the armed forces of a State, including the adoption of policies that do not tolerate the recruitment and use of children in armed conflict, and legal measures necessary to prohibit and criminalize such practices;

53. Also condemns all kinds of abduction of children, in particular extortive abduction and abduction of children in situations of armed conflict, including for the recruitment and use of children in armed conflicts, and urges States to take all appropriate measures to secure their unconditional release, rehabilitation, reintegration and reunification with their families. 
UN General Assembly, Res. 62/141, 18 December 2007, §§ 39, 41(a) and (f) and 53, voting record: 183-1-0-8.

In a resolution adopted in 2007 on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, the UN General Assembly strongly called upon the Government of Myanmar:
To put an immediate end to the continuing recruitment and use of child soldiers, in violation of international law, by all parties, to intensify measures to ensure the protection of children from armed conflict and to pursue its collaboration with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict. 
UN General Assembly, Res. 62/222, 22 December 2007, § 4(g), voting record: 83-22-47-40.

UN Economic and Social Council
In a resolution adopted in 2007 on a Supplement to the World Programme of Action for Youth to the Year 2000 and Beyond, ECOSOC recommended to the UN General Assembly that it adopt a draft resolution that stated:
48. Governments should take all feasible measures to ensure that members of their armed forces who have not attained the age of 18 years do not take direct part in hostilities and that those who have not attained the age of 18 years are not compulsorily recruited into their armed forces.
49. Governments should take all necessary measures, in accordance with international humanitarian law and human rights law, as a matter of priority, to prevent the recruitment and use of children by armed groups, as distinct from the armed forces of a State, including the adoption of policies that do not tolerate the recruitment and use of children in armed conflict, and the legal measures necessary to prohibit and criminalize such practices. 
ECOSOC, Res. 2007/27, 27 July 2007, §§ 48–49, voting record: 49-1-0.

UN Commission on Human Rights
In a resolution adopted in 1993, the UN Commission on Human Rights deplored “the continued practice of enlisting children in the armed forces”. 
UN Commission of Human Rights, Res. 1993/83, 10 March 1993, preamble, adopted without a vote.

In a resolution adopted in 1994, the UN Commission on Human Rights deplored “the continued practice of enlisting children in the armed forces”. 
UN Commission of Human Rights; Res. 1994/94, 9 March 1994, preamble, adopted without a vote.

In a resolution adopted in 1995, the UN Commission on Human Rights stated that it was “deeply worried by the continued practice of enlisting children in armed forces, in contravention of the Convention on the Rights of the Child”. 
UN Commission on Human Rights, Res. 1995/79, 8 March 1995, preamble, adopted without a vote.

In a resolution adopted in 1996, the UN Commission on Human Rights urged “all the Afghan parties to respect fully international humanitarian law […] and to prohibit the drafting and the recruitment of children as para-combatants”. 
UN Commission on Human Rights, Res. 1996/75, 23 April 1996, § 4, adopted without a vote

In a resolution adopted in 1998 on the elimination of violence against women, the UN Commission on Human Rights called upon States “to protect children, especially the girl child, in situations of armed conflict against … recruitment … through adherence to the applicable principles of international human rights and humanitarian law”. 
UN Commission on Human Rights, Res. 1998/52, 17 April 1998, § 9(g), adopted without a vote.

In a resolution adopted in 1998, the UN Commission on Human Rights urged all the Afghan parties:
To respect fully international humanitarian law, to protect civilians, to halt the use of weapons against the civilian population, to stop the laying of landmines, especially anti-personnel mines, and to prohibit forced conscription and the drafting and recruitment of children as para-combatants and ensure their reintegration into society. 
UN Commission on Human Rights, Res. 1998/70, 21 April 1998, § 5(c), adopted without a vote

In a resolution adopted in 1998 on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, the UN Commission on Human Rights expressed “its deep concern … at continuing violations of the rights of children in contravention of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, in particular by … recruitment … into the armed forces”. 
UN Commission on Human Rights, Res. 1998/63, 21 April 1998, § 3(d), adopted without a vote.

In a resolution adopted in 1998 on the abduction of children from northern Uganda, the UN Commission on Human Rights acknowledged “the concern expressed in the concluding observations of the Committee on the Rights of Child … about … the recruitment of children as child soldiers in northern Uganda” and condemned in the strongest terms “all parties involved in … recruitment of children as child soldiers, particularly the Lord’s Resistance Army”. 
UN Commission on Human Rights, Res. 1998/75, 22 April 1998, preamble and § 3, voting record: 24-1-27.

In a resolution adopted in 1998 on the rights of the child, the UN Commission on Human Rights called upon all States and other parties to armed conflict “to end the use of children as soldiers and ensure their demobilization”. 
UN Commission on Human Rights, Res. 1998/76, 22 April 1998, § 12(b) , adopted without a vote.

In a resolution adopted in 1998, the UN Commission on Human Rights expressed its concern at the forcible recruitment and kidnapping of children by non-governmental armed groups in Burundi and invited the government to take measures to combat these practices. 
UN Commission on Human Rights, Res. 1998/82, 24 April 1998, § 8, adopted without a vote.

In a resolution adopted in 2003 on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, the UN Commission on Human Rights strongly urged the Government of Myanmar:
To put an immediate end to the recruitment and use of child soldiers and to extend full cooperation to relevant international organizations in order to ensure the demobilization of child soldiers, their return home and their rehabilitation in accordance with Security Council resolution 1460 (2003) of 30 January 2003. 
UN Commission on Human Rights, Res. 2003/12, 16 April 2003, § 5(e), adopted without a vote.

In a resolution adopted in 2003 on the situation of human rights in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the UN Commission on Human Rights:
3. Condemns:

(g) The continuing recruitment and use of child soldiers by armed forces and groups in the territory of the Democratic Republic of the Congo;

4. Urges all parties to the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo:

(d) To put an immediate end to the recruitment and use of child soldiers, which are in contravention of international law, mindful that under the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict persons under 18 are entitled to special protection, and to provide information without delay on measures taken to discontinue such practices;

(k) To extend full cooperation to the United Nations system, humanitarian organizations and the World Bank in order to ensure the rapid demobilization and reintegration of armed groups and of child soldiers in particular. 
UN Commission on Human Rights, Res. 2003/15, 17 April 2003, §§ 3(g), 4(d) and (k), adopted without a vote.

In a resolution adopted in 2003 on assistance to Somalia in the field of human rights, the UN Commission on Human Rights condemned:
All violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law, including the forced or compulsory recruitment of children for use in armed conflict, [and] the use of these children in armed conflict by the militias. 
UN Commission on Human Rights, Res. 2003/78, 25 April 2003, § 6(c), adopted without a vote.

In a resolution adopted in 2003 on the abduction of children in Africa, the UN Commission on Human Rights:
1. Condemns in the strongest terms the abduction and recruitment of children for armed conflicts;
2. Also condemns the abduction of children from refugee camps by armed groups, as distinct from the armed forces of States, and their subjection of children to forced conscription, torture, killing and rape;
3. Demands the immediate demobilization and disarmament of all child soldiers, including abducted children forcibly conscripted into armed groups;
4. Calls for the immediate and unconditional release and safe return of all abducted children to their families and communities;
5. Calls upon African States:

(d) To take adequate measures to prevent the abduction and recruitment of children by armed groups, as distinct from armed forces of States, through, inter alia, the adoption of legal measures to prohibit and criminalize such practices. 
UN Commission on Human Rights, Res. 2003/85, 25 April 2003, §§ 1–4 and 5(d), adopted without a vote.

In a resolution adopted in 2003 on the rights of the child, the UN Commission on Human Rights:
32. Calls upon all States to protect refugee, asylum-seeking and internally displaced children, in particular those who are unaccompanied, who are particularly exposed to risks in connection with armed conflict, such as recruitment … and, where appropriate, to cooperate with international humanitarian and refugee organizations;

40. Takes note of the entry into force of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (A/CONF.183/9) and notes in particular the inclusion therein, as a war crime, of conscripting or enlisting children under the age of 15 years or using them to participate actively in hostilities in both international and non-international armed conflicts;
41. Calls upon States:
(a) To end the recruitment of children and their use in armed conflicts contrary to international law, including obligations assumed under the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict and the Convention concerning the prohibition and immediate action for the elimination of the worst forms of child labour (No. 182) of the International Labour Organization;
(b) When ratifying the Optional Protocol, to raise the minimum age for voluntary recruitment of persons into their national armed forces from that set out in article 38, paragraph 3, of the Convention, bearing in mind that under the Convention persons under 18 years of age are entitled to special protection, and to adopt safeguards to ensure that such recruitment is not forced or coerced;
(c) To ensure that children are not forcibly or compulsorily recruited into their armed forces and, where voluntary recruitment to the national armed forces under the age of 18 years is permitted, to ensure compliance with the safeguards under article 3, paragraph 3, of the Optional Protocol;
(d) To take all feasible measures to prevent recruitment and use of children by armed groups, as distinct from the armed forces of a State, including the adoption of legal measures necessary to prohibit and criminalize such practices;

42. Calls upon:
(a) All States and other parties to armed conflict to respect fully international humanitarian law and, in this regard, calls upon States parties to respect fully the provisions of the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 and the Additional Protocols thereto of 1977;
(b) Armed groups that are distinct from the armed forces of a State not, under any circumstances, to recruit or use in hostilities persons under the age of 18 years. 
UN Commission on Human Rights, Res. 2003/86, 25 April 2003, §§ 32, 40, 41(a)–(d) and 42(a)–(b), adopted without a vote.

In a resolution adopted in 2004 on the abduction of children in Africa, the UN Commission on Human Rights:
4. Calls for the immediate and unconditional release and safe return of all abducted children to their families and communities;
5. Calls upon African States:
(a) To pay particular attention to the protection of refugee children, especially unaccompanied refugee minors, and internally displaced children who are exposed to the risk of being abducted or becoming involved in armed conflicts;
(b) To take extra measures to protect refugee children and internally displaced children, particularly girls, from being abducted by guerrilla groups;
(c) To take adequate measures to prevent the abduction and recruitment of children by armed forces and armed groups, through, inter alia, the adoption of legal measures to prohibit and criminalize such practices;

9. Requests African States, in cooperation with the relevant United Nations agencies, to provide the victims and their families with the necessary assistance and to support sustainable rehabilitation and reintegration programmes for abducted children, including the provision of psychological assistance, basic education and vocational training, taking into account the special needs of abducted girl children. 
UN Commission on Human Rights, Res. 2004/47, 20 April 2004, §§ 4, 5(a)–(c) and 9, adopted without a vote.

In a resolution adopted in 2004 on the rights of the child, the UN Commission on Human Rights:
32. Calls upon all States to protect refugee, asylumseeking and internally displaced children, in particular those who are unaccompanied, who are particularly exposed to risks in connection with armed conflict, such as recruitment … and, where appropriate, to cooperate with international humanitarian and refugee organizations;

41. Recognizes the inclusion in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (A/CONF.183/9), as a war crime, of crimes involving sexual violence and crimes of conscripting or enlisting children under the age of 15 years or using them to participate actively in hostilities in both international and noninternational armed conflicts;
42. Calls upon States:
(a) To end the recruitment of children and their use in armed conflicts contrary to international law, including obligations assumed under the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict and the Convention concerning the Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour, 1999 (No. 182) of the International Labour Organization;
(b) When ratifying the Optional Protocol, to raise the minimum age for voluntary recruitment of persons into their national armed forces from that set out in article 38, paragraph 3, of the Convention, bearing in mind that under the Convention persons under 18 years of age are entitled to special protection, and to adopt safeguards to ensure that such recruitment is not forced or coerced;
(c) To take all feasible measures to prevent recruitment and use of children by armed groups, as distinct from the armed forces of a State, including the adoption of legal measures necessary to prohibit and criminalize such practices;
(d) To take all feasible measures to ensure the demobilization and effective disarmament of children used in armed conflicts and to implement effective measures for their rehabilitation, physical and psychological recovery and reintegration into society, taking into account the rights and the specific needs and capacities of girls;
43. Recognizes that education is an integral part of the process of demobilization, effective disarmament, rehabilitation, physical and psychological recovery and reintegration into society of children involved in armed conflicts, and that it is a means of facilitating a return to normality for such children and is a key protection measure against rerecruitment by parties to armed conflict …
44. Calls upon:
(a) All States and other parties to armed conflict to respect fully international humanitarian law and, in this regard, calls upon States parties to respect fully the provisions of the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 and the Additional Protocols thereto of 1977;
(b) Armed groups that are distinct from the armed forces of a State not, under any circumstances, to recruit or use in hostilities persons under the age of 18 years. 
UN Commission on Human Rights, Res. 2004/48, 20 April 2004, §§ 32, 41–43 and 44(a)–(b), voting record: 52-1-0.

In a resolution adopted in 2004 on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, the UN Commission on Human Rights:
1. Welcomes:

(i) The establishment by the Government of a Committee for Preventing Recruitment of Child Soldiers and stressed the need for it to work closely with the United Nations Children’s Fund;

5. Strongly urges the Government of Myanmar:

(h) To put an immediate end to the recruitment and use of child soldiers and to extend full cooperation to relevant international organizations in order to ensure the demobilization of child soldiers, their return home and their rehabilitation in accordance with Security Council resolution 1460 (2003) of 30 January 2003. 
UN Commission on Human Rights, Res. 2004/61, 21 April 2004, §§ 1(i) and 5(h), adopted without a vote.

In a resolution adopted in 2004 on assistance to Somalia in the field of human rights, the UN Commission on Human Rights:
9. Condemns:

(d) The forced or compulsory recruitment of children for use in armed conflict, the use of these children in armed conflict by the militias …

12. Urges:

(c) All parties to halt the forced or compulsory recruitment of children for use in armed conflict and to pay serious attention to their protection. 
UN Commission on Human Rights, Res. 2004/80, 21 April 2004, §§ 9(d) and 12(c), adopted without a vote.

In a resolution adopted in 2004 on technical cooperation and advisory services in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the UN Commission on Human Rights urged all parties:
To put an end to the recruitment and use of child soldiers, which are contrary to international law and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, bearing in mind that, under the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Optional Protocol thereto on the involvement of children in armed conflict, persons under the age of 18 are entitled to special protection, and to provide information on measures taken to discontinue such practices. 
UN Commission on Human Rights, Res. 2004/84, 21 April 2004, § 4(f), adopted without a vote.

In a resolution adopted in 2005 on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, the UN Commission on Human Rights:
1. Welcomes:

(d) The establishment by the Government of a committee for the prevention of military recruitment of under-age soldiers and the adoption in November 2004 of an outline plan of action to address the issues of under-age recruitment and child soldiers;

5. Also calls upon the Government of Myanmar:

(c) To put an immediate end to the recruitment and use of child soldiers and to extend full cooperation to relevant international organizations in order to ensure the demobilization of child soldiers, their return home and their rehabilitation in accordance with Security Council resolutions 1460 (2003) of 30 January 2003 and 1539 (2004) of 14 April 2004 by the Army, but stresses the need for full implementation of the plan and the need to maintain close dialogue with the United Nations Children’s Fund, as well as to cooperate with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict. 
UN Commission on Human Rights, Res. 2005/10, 14 April 2005, §§ 1(d) and 5(c), adopted without a vote.

In a resolution adopted in 2005 on the abduction of children in Africa, the UN Commission on Human Rights:
1. Condemns the practice of abduction of children for various purposes, inter alia, for involvement in armed forces or armed groups, for participation in hostilities, for sexual exploitation and forced labour;
2. Also condemns the abduction of children from camps of refugees and internally displaced persons by armed forces and armed groups, and their subjection of children to participation in fighting, torture, killing and rape as victims and as perpetrators;
3. Demands the immediate demobilization and disarmament, reintegration and, where applicable, repatriation of all child soldiers, particularly girls, who have been recruited or used in armed conflicts in contravention of international law;
4. Calls for the immediate and unconditional release and safe return of all abducted children to their families, extended families and communities;
5. Calls upon African States:
(a) To pay particular attention to the protection of refugee and internally displaced children, especially unaccompanied and separated children, who are exposed to the risk of being abducted or becoming involved in armed conflicts;

(c) To take adequate measures to prevent the abduction and recruitment of children by armed forces and armed groups and their participation in hostilities, through, inter alia, the adoption of legal measures to prohibit and criminalize such practices and practical measures such as prompt and comprehensive birth registration of all children (including refugee and internally displaced children), documentation of children, preservation of family unity and its facilitation in case of separation, access to education, health care, vocational training and employment. 
UN Commission on Human Rights, Res. 2005/43, 19 April 2005, §§ 1–4 and 5(a) and (c), adopted without a vote.

In a resolution adopted in 2005 on the rights of the child, the UN Commission on Human Rights:
2. Urges once again the States that have not yet done so to consider signing and ratifying or acceding to the Convention on the Rights of the Child as a matter of priority and, concerned at the great number of reservations to the Convention, urges States parties to withdraw reservations incompatible with the object and purpose of the Convention and to consider reviewing other reservations with a view to withdrawing them;
3. Urges States that have not yet done so to consider signing and ratifying or acceding to the Optional Protocols to the Convention on the involvement of children in armed conflict and on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography;
4. Calls upon States parties to implement the Convention and its Optional Protocols fully and in accordance with the best interests of the child by, inter alia, putting in place effective national legislation and policies, and to comply in a timely manner with their reporting obligations under the Convention and the Optional Protocols thereto, in accordance with the guidelines elaborated by the Committee, as well as to take into account the recommendations made by the Committee in the implementation of the provisions of the Convention;

26. Calls upon all States to protect refugee, asylumseeking and internally displaced children, in particular those who are unaccompanied, who are particularly exposed to risks in connection with armed conflict and post-conflict situations, such as recruitment, sexual violence and exploitation, to pay particular attention to programmes for voluntary repatriation and, wherever possible, local integration and resettlement, to give priority to family tracing and reunification and, where appropriate, to cooperate with international humanitarian and refugee organizations;

34. Recognizes the inclusion in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, as a war crime, of crimes involving sexual violence and crimes of conscripting or enlisting children under the age of 15 years or using them to participate actively in hostilities in both international and non-international armed conflicts;

36. Strongly condemns any recruitment and use of children in armed conflicts contrary to international law, and urges all parties to armed conflict to end such practice …

38. Calls upon States:
(a) When ratifying the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict, to raise the minimum age for voluntary recruitment of persons into their national armed forces from that set out in article 38, paragraph 3, of the Convention, bearing in mind that under the Convention persons under 18 years of age are entitled to special protection, and to adopt safeguards to ensure that such recruitment is not forced or coerced;
(b) To take all feasible measures to prevent recruitment and use of children by armed groups, as distinct from the armed forces of a State, including the adoption of legal measures necessary to prohibit and criminalize such practice, and the adoption of measures to prevent rerecruitment, in particular education;
(c) To take all feasible measures, in particular educational measures, to ensure the demobilization and effective disarmament of children used in armed conflicts and to implement effective measures for their rehabilitation, physical and psychological recovery and reintegration into society, taking into account the rights and the specific needs of the girl child;

39. Calls upon:
(a) All States and other parties to armed conflict to respect fully international humanitarian law and, in this regard, calls upon States parties to respect fully the provisions of the Geneva Conventions, of 12 August 1949, and the Additional Protocols thereto of 8 June 1977;
(b) Armed groups that are distinct from the armed forces of a State not, under any circumstances, to recruit or use in hostilities persons under the age of 18 years. 
UN Commission on Human Rights, Res. 2005/44, 19 April 2005, §§ 2–4, 26, 34, 36, 38(a)–(c) and 39(a)–(b), voting record: 52-1-0.

In a resolution adopted in 2005 on technical cooperation and advisory services in Nepal, the UN Commission on Human Rights:
Firmly condemns the recruitment and use of a large number of children in Maoist forces and urges the members of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) to stop the recruitment of children as well as to demobilize immediately those currently participating in these groups, as set out in Security Council resolution 1539 (2004). 
UN Commission on Human Rights, Res. 2005/78, 20 April 2005, § 5, adopted without a vote.

In a resolution adopted in 2005 on the situation of human rights in the Sudan, the UN Commission on Human Rights called upon all parties to the conflict:
To prevent the recruitment of children as soldiers and combatants, consistent with the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict. 
UN Commission on Human Rights, Res. 2005/82, 21 April 2005, § 3(i), adopted without a vote.

In a resolution adopted in 2005 on assistance to Somalia in the field of human rights, the UN Commission on Human Rights:
7. Firmly condemns:

(c) The forced or compulsory recruitment of children for use in armed conflict, the use of these children in armed conflict by the militias …

9. Also calls upon:

(a) All parties to … prevent any act likely to increase tension and insecurity, particularly the forced or compulsory recruitment of children for use in armed conflict and to pay serious attention to their protection, as set out in human rights and international humanitarian standards, in particular those pertaining to internal armed conflict. 
UN Commission on Human Rights, Res. 2005/83, 21 April 2005, §§ 7(c) and 9(a), adopted without a vote.

In a resolution adopted in 2005 on technical cooperation and advisory services in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the UN Commission on Human Rights:
5. Urges all the parties, including non-signatories of the Global and All-Inclusive Agreement on the Transition in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, signed in Pretoria on 17 September 2002:

(g) To support the national disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme and the disarmament and community reintegration programme in Ituri, and to put a stop to the recruitment and use of child soldiers in violation of international law and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child;

6. Requests the Transitional Government to take specific measures:

(i) To continue with and to step up its efforts to put a stop to the recruitment of child soldiers. 
UN Commission on Human Rights, Res. 2005/85, 21 April 2005, §§ 5(g) and 6(i), adopted without a vote.

UNHCR Executive Committee
In 2007, in its Conclusion on Children at Risk, the UNHCR Executive Committee recommended that States, UNHCR and other relevant agencies and partners:
Take appropriate measures to prevent the unlawful recruitment or use of children by armed forces or groups, and work towards the unconditional release from armed forces or groups of all children recruited or used unlawfully by armed forces or groups, and their protection and reintegration. 
UNHCR, Executive Committee, Conclusion No. 107 (LVIII): Children at Risk, 5 October 2007, preamble, § h(vi).

UN Expert on the Situation of Children in Armed Conflict
In 1996, in a report on the impact of armed conflict on children, the UN Expert on the Situation of Children in Armed Conflict stated: “Practical protection measures to prevent … the recruitment of children into armed forces must be a priority in all assistance programmes in refugee and displaced camps.” 
UN Expert on the Situation of Children in Armed Conflict, Report on the impact of armed conflict on children, UN Doc. A/51/306, 26 August 1996, Annex, § 90(c).

UN Secretary-General
In 1998, in a report on the situation in Sierra Leone, the UN Secretary-General mentioned the important commitments resulting from the visit to Sierra Leone of his Special Representative for Children in Armed Conflict. He noted that the government agreed “not to recruit children under 18 years of age into a new national army. The Civil Defence Force committed to stop recruiting and initiating children under 18 and to begin the process of demobilization of child combatants within their ranks.” 
UN Secretary-General, Fifth report on the situation in Sierra Leone, UN Doc. S/1998/486, 9 June 1998, § 23.

In 1998, in a report on UNOMSIL in Sierra Leone, the UN Secretary-General collected allegations concerning the initiation, by the Civil Defence Force, of children between the ages of 15 and 17. He welcomed “the commitment of the government and the Civil Defence Force not to recruit children under the age of 18 as soldiers” and urged them “to implement their undertaking to demobilize any children currently under arms as soon as possible”. 
UN Secretary-General, First progress report on UNOMSIL, UN Doc. S/1998/750, 12 August 1998, §§ 43 and 59.

In 1998, in a report on protection for humanitarian assistance to refugees and others in conflict situations, the UN Secretary-General stated that compliance with IHL norms and principles had “worsened in recent years because of the changing pattern of conflicts” and gave as an illustration the fact that “young children are being recruited and trained to fight in violation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Additional Protocols of the Geneva Conventions”. 
UN Secretary-General, Report on protection for humanitarian assistance to refugees and others in conflict situations, UN Doc. S/1998/883, 22 September 1998, pp. 2–3.

In 1999, in a report on the protection of civilians in armed conflict, the UN Secretary-General stated that he had “announced a minimum age requirement for United Nations peacekeepers … and asked contributing Governments to send in their national contingent’s troops preferably not younger than 21 years of age, and in no case less than 18”. He therefore recommended that the UN Security Council:
urge Member States to support the proposal to raise the minimum age for recruitment … to 18, and accelerate the drafting of an optional protocol on the situation of children in armed conflict to the Convention on the Rights of the Child for consideration by the General Assembly.  
UN Secretary-General, Report on the protection of civilians in armed conflict, UN Doc. S/1999/957, 8 September 1999, § 42 and Recommendation 8.

In 2000, in his report on the establishment of a Special Court for Sierra Leone, the UN Secretary-General stated: “Violations of common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions and of Article 4 of Additional Protocol II thereto committed in an armed conflict not of an international character have long been considered customary international law.” He also stated:
Other serious violations of international humanitarian law falling within the jurisdiction of the Court include: … abduction and forced recruitment of children under the age of 15 years into armed forces or groups for the purpose of using them to participate actively in hostilities …
The prohibition of child recruitment has by now acquired a customary international law status. 
UN Secretary-General, Report on the establishment of a Special Court for Sierra Leone, UN Doc. S/2000/915, 4 October 2000, §§ 14, 15(c) and 17.

UN Commission on Human Rights (Special Rapporteur)
In 1994, in a report on the situation of human rights in the territory of the former Yugoslavia, the Special Rapporteur of the UN Commission on Human Rights stated:
It has been impossible to ascertain how many adolescents have been recruited – voluntarily or under duress – into various armies. In the Bihac pocket, there have been allegations that boys as young as 16 may have been forcibly drafted into the army.
The Special Rapporteur also noted that in the United Nations Protected Areas, “many boys of 15 to 17 years of age have volunteered for, and sometimes been accepted, into the army of the so-called ‘Serbian Republic of Krajina’”. 
UN Commission on Human Rights, Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Former Yugoslavia, Sixth periodic report, UN Doc. E/CN.4/1994/110, 21 February 1994, § 241.

In 2001, in a report on violence against women perpetrated and/or condoned by the State during times of armed conflict, the Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, its Causes and Consequences stated:
Despite the specific needs and experiences of girls in armed conflict, girls are often the last priority when it comes to the distribution of humanitarian aid and their needs are often neglected in the formulation of demobilization and reintegration programmes. 
UN Commission on Human Rights, Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, its Causes and Consequences, Report on violence against women perpetrated and/or condoned by the State during times of armed conflict (1997–2000), UN Doc. E/CN.4/2001/73, 23 January 2001, § 52.

UN Observer Mission in El Salvador
In 1992, in a report on El Salvador, the Director of the Human Rights Division of ONUSAL noted:
60. … ONUSAL observers were able to verify that [a] huge number of children under 15 were in the FMLN [Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional] ranks. When this situation was taken up with the Political and Diplomatic Commission of FMLN, it pledged to respect the international norms in force [Article 4(3)(c) of the 1977 Additional Protocol II], which did not entirely prove to be the case. Although in several instances it was ascertained that the enlistments had been voluntary and in others it was not possible to establish the age of the minors, this prohibited recruitment practice was observed during the course of the conflict … [but] irregular recruitment, on the part of both the armed forces and FMLN, gradually ceased with the signing of the Peace Agreement on 16 January 1992.

101. … In regard to military recruitment, it was recommended that wide publicity be given to the Ministry of Defence regulations on recruitment procedures … FMLN was recommended to observe the rules of international humanitarian law concerning the prohibition of the recruitment of minors under the age of 15 … in hostilities. 
ONUSAL, Director of the Human Rights Division, Report, UN Doc. A/46/955-S/24375, 12 August 1992, Annex, §§ 60 and 101.

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OAU Council of Ministers
In a resolution adopted in 1996 on the plight of African children in situation of armed conflicts, the OAU Council of Ministers:
5. Exhorts all African countries, in particular the warring parties in those countries embroiled in civil wars, … to refrain from recruiting children under the age of 18 in armed conflicts or violent activities of any kind whatsoever.
6. Urges all the warring parties, Governments and others release child combatants from the army. 
OAU, Council of Ministers, Res. 1659 (LXIV), 1–5 July 1996, §§ 5–6.

In another resolution adopted at the same session, the Council of Ministers reiterated its appeal to member States and to all the parties engaged in armed conflict “to put an end to the recruitment of children in these conflicts”. 
OAU, Council of Ministers, Res. 1662 (LXIV), 1–5 July 1996, § 8.

OAU/ICRC
In the recommendations of the fifth OAU/ICRC seminar on IHL for diplomats accredited to the OAU, held in 1998, the participants “firmly condemned the recruitment of children into forces engaged in fighting”. 
OAU/ICRC, Fifth seminar on IHL for diplomats accredited to the OAU, Addis Ababa, 30–31 March 1998, Recommendations, § 3.

Southern African Development Community
In 1998, speaking on behalf of the SADC in the Sixth Committee of the UN General Assembly, South Africa declared that the 1998 ICC Statute
would also serve as a reminder that even during armed conflict the rule of law must be upheld. For example, it was unlawful for children under the age of 15 to be robbed of their childhood by being recruited to national armed forces … [This act] was a war crime and would be punished. 
SADC, Statement by South Africa on behalf of SADC before the Sixth Committee of the UN General Assembly, UN Doc. A/C.6/53/SR.9, 21 October 1998, § 13.

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International Conference of the Red Cross (1986)
The 25th International Conference of the Red Cross in 1986 recalled that, in accordance with Article 77 of the 1977 Additional Protocol I, the parties to the conflict shall refrain from recruiting children who have not attained the age of fifteen into their armed forces and that “in recruiting among those persons who have attained the age of fifteen but who have not attained the age of eighteen years, the Parties to the conflict shall endeavour to give priority to those who are oldest”. 
25th International Conference of the Red Cross, Geneva, 23–31 October 1986, Res. IX, § 2.

International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent (1995)
The 26th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent in 1995 strongly condemned “recruitment and conscription of children under the age of 15 years in the armed forces or armed groups, which constitute a violation of international humanitarian law” and demanded that “those responsible for such acts be brought to justice and punished”. The Conference further took note of “the efforts of the Movement to promote a principle of non-recruitment … of children under the age of 18 years”. 
26th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, Geneva, 3–7 December 1995, Res. II, § C(c) and (f).

Continental Conference on Children in Situations of Armed Conflict in Africa
The statement adopted at the 1997 OAU/African Network for Prevention and Protection Against Child Abuse and Neglect (ANPPCAN) Continental Conference on Children in Situations of Armed Conflict noted: “The recruitment of children under the age of 18 years into armed forces, militias or rebel forces, should be outlawed as stipulated in the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, and treated as a crime against humanity.” 
OAU/ANPPCAN Continental Conference on Children in Situations of Armed Conflict in Africa, Addis Ababa, 24–26 July 1997, Final Statement, § 10.

African Conference on the Use of Children as Soldiers
In the Maputo Declaration on the Use of Children as Soldiers, the participants at the African Conference on the Use of Children as Soldiers in 1999 called upon all African States to end “the recruitment of all children under 18 years of age into the armed forces”, to prohibit “the recruitment of all children into militia forces under their jurisdiction” and to bring to justice “those who continue to recruit or use children as soldiers”. They also called upon armed opposition groups “to end the recruitment of children”. 
African Conference on the Use of Children as Soldiers, Maputo, 19–22 April 1999, Maputo Declaration on the Use of Children as Soldiers, §§ 2–3.

Inter-Parliamentary Conference (1999)
In a resolution adopted on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Geneva Conventions in 1999 on the contribution of parliaments to ensuring respect for and promoting international humanitarian law, the 102nd Inter-Parliamentary Conference requested all States “to take all feasible measures to ensure that children who have not attained the age of 18 years … are not recruited under compulsion into the armed forces; and to ensure the early adoption of the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict”. 
102nd Inter-Parliamentary Conference, Berlin, 10–15 October 1999, Resolution on the contribution of parliaments to ensuring respect for and promoting international humanitarian law on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Geneva Conventions, § 4.

International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent (1999)
The Plan of Action for the years 2000–2003 adopted in 1999 at the 27th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent requested that:
1. All the parties to an armed conflict take effective measures to respect and ensure respect for international humanitarian law and to ensure, in particular, in accordance with their relevant obligations under international humanitarian law, that:

(f) … all measures, including penal measures, are taken to stop … [the] recruitment [of children under the age of 15 years] into the armed forces or into armed groups which constitute[s] a violation of international humanitarian law …

7. The International Federation, National Societies and the ICRC will continue their efforts in pursuance of decisions taken within the International Movement and notably the Plan of Action for Children Affected by Armed Conflict (CABAC), to “promote the principle of non-recruitment … of children below the age of 18 years in armed conflicts”. 
27th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, Geneva, 31 October–6 November 1999, Res. I, Annex 2, Plan of Action for the years 2000–2003, Actions proposed for final goal 1.1, §§ 1(f) and 7.

African Parliamentary Conference on International Humanitarian Law for the Protection of Civilians during Armed Conflict
In its Final Declaration in 2002, the African Parliamentary Conference on International Humanitarian Law for the Protection of Civilians during Armed Conflict pledged “to give particular attention to vulnerable groups to prevent all forms of recruitment for military purpose of children under 18 years old”. 
African Parliamentary Conference on International Humanitarian Law for the Protection of Civilians during Armed Conflict, Niamey, 18–20 February 2002, Final Declaration, § 9.

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International Court of Justice
In its judgment in the Armed Activities on the Territory of the Congo case (DRC v. Uganda) in 2005, the ICJ stated:
The Court finds that there is convincing evidence of the training in UPDF [Uganda Peoples’ Defence Forces] training camps of child soldiers and of the UPDF’s failure to prevent the recruitment of child soldiers in areas under its control. The Fifth report of the Secretary-General on MONUC [United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo] (doc. S/2000/1156 of 6 December 2000, para. 75) refers to the confirmed “cross-border deportation of recruited Congolese children from the Bunia, Beni and Butembo region to Uganda”. The Eleventh report of the Secretary-General on MONUC (doc. S/2002/621 of 5 June 2002, para. 47) points out that the local UPDF authorities in and around Bunia in Ituri district “have failed to prevent the fresh recruitment or re-recruitment of children” as child soldiers. MONUC’s special report on the events in Ituri, January 2002–December 2003 (doc. S/2004/573 of 16 July 2004, para. 148) refers to several incidents where Congolese children were transferred to UPDF training camps for military training. 
ICJ, Armed Activities on the Territory of the Congo case (DRC v. Uganda), Judgment, 19 December 2005, § 210.

The Court subsequently found that Uganda, by the conduct of its armed forces, “violated its obligations under international human rights law and international humanitarian law” for having, inter alia, “trained child soldiers”. 
ICJ, Armed Activities on the Territory of the Congo case (DRC v. Uganda), Judgment, 19 December 2005, §§ 211 and 345(3).

International Criminal Court
In the Kony case before the ICC in 2005, the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber II issued an arrest warrant for Joseph Kony, the alleged founder, chairman and commander-in-chief of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), an armed group carrying out an insurgency against the Government of Uganda. He was charged, inter alia, with two counts of enlisting children for “ordering the commission of war crimes which in fact occurred, namely, the enlisting through abduction”, punishable under Articles 8(2)(e)(vii) and 25(3)(b) of the 1998 ICC Statute. 
ICC, Kony case, Warrant of arrest, 8 July 2005 as amended, 27 September 2005, § 43, Counts 5 and 13.

These crimes were alleged to have been committed during attacks on various internally displaced persons (IDP) camps in Uganda from 2002 to 2004. According to the arrest warrant, the LRA had engaged in
a cycle of violence and established a pattern of “brutalization of civilians” by acts including murder, abduction, sexual enslavement, mutilation, as well as mass burnings of houses and looting of camp settlements; that abducted civilians, including children, are said to have been forcibly “recruited” as fighters, porters and sex slaves to serve the LRA and to contribute to attacks against the Ugandan army and civilian communities. 
ICC, Kony case, Warrant of arrest, 8 July 2005 as amended, 27 September 2005, § 5.

In the Otti case before the ICC in 2005, the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber II issued an arrest warrant for Vincent Otti, the alleged vice-chairman and second-in-command of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), an armed group carrying out an insurgency against the Government of Uganda. He was charged, inter alia, with two counts of enlisting children for having “ordering the commission of war crimes which in fact occurred, namely, the enlisting through abduction”, punishable under Articles 8(2)(e)(vii) and 25(3)(b) of the ICC Statute. 
ICC, Otti case, Warrant of arrest, 8 July 2005, § 42, Counts 5 and 13.

These crimes were alleged to have been committed during attacks on various internally displaced persons (IDP) camps in Uganda from 2002 to 2004. According to the arrest warrant, the LRA had engaged in:
a cycle of violence and established a pattern of “brutalization of civilians” by acts including murder, abduction, sexual enslavement, mutilation, as well as mass burnings of houses and looting of camp settlements; that abducted civilians, including children, are said to have been forcibly “recruited” as fighters, porters and sex slaves to serve the LRA and to contribute to attacks against the Ugandan army and civilian communities. 
ICC, Otti case, Warrant of arrest, 8 July 2005, § 5.

In the Odhiambo case before the ICC in 2005, the Pre-Trial Chamber issued a Warrant of Arrest for Okot Odhiambo, an alleged senior commander of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in Uganda, for his role in the commission of war crimes (murder, enlisting children, attacks against the civilian population, and pillage, punishable under Articles 8(2)(c)(i), (e)(vii), (i) and (v) of the 1998 ICC Statute) and crimes against humanity (murder and enslavement, punishable under Articles 7(1)(a) and (c) of the 1998 ICC Statute). 
ICC, Odhiambo case, Warrant of Arrest, 8 July 2005, § 32, Counts 10–19.

With regard to the war crime of enlisting children, the Pre-Trial Chamber stated that it was satisfied that there were reasonable grounds to believe Odhiambo was responsible for “ordering the commission of war crimes which in fact occurred, namely, the enlisting, through abduction, of residents of [an] IDP Camp”. 
ICC, Odhiambo case, Warrant of Arrest, 8 July 2005, § 32, Count 13.

In the Lubanga case before the ICC in 2006, Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, a former president of the Union des Patriotes Congolais (UPC) and commander-in-chief of the Forces patriotiques pour la libération du Congo (FPLC), was charged, inter alia, with the war crimes of enlisting, conscripting and using children under the age of 15 years to participate actively in hostilities, punishable under Article 8(2)(b)(xxvi) and (e)(vii) of the 1998 ICC Statute. 
ICC, Lubanga case, Warrant of Arrest, 10 February 2006.

In its Decision on the Confirmation of Charges in 2007, the Pre-Trial Chamber stated:
242. The concept of children participating in armed conflicts emerged in international law in 1977 during the drafting of the Protocols Additional to the Geneva Conventions.
243. In this regard, the Chamber recalls that Article 77(2) of Protocol Additional I which applied to international armed conflicts, provides that:
The Parties to the conflict shall take all feasible measures in order that children who have not attained the age of fifteen years do not take a direct part in hostilities and, in particular, they shall refrain from recruiting them into their armed forces. In recruiting among those persons who have attained the age of fifteen years but who have not attained the age of eighteen years, the Parties to the conflict shall endeavour to give priority to those who are oldest.
Article [4(3)] of Protocol Additional II, which applies to non-international armed conflicts, provides that:
Children shall be provided with the care and aid they require, and in particular:
(c) children who have not attained the age of fifteen years shall neither be recruited in the armed forces or groups nor allowed to take part in hostilities;
244. The term used in this article – recruitment – differs from those used in the Rome Statute – enlisting and conscripting. Whereas the preparatory work of the Protocols Additional appears to consider only the prohibition against forcible recruitment, the commentary on Article 4(3)(c) of Protocol Additional II refers to “[t]he principle that children should not be recruited into the armed forces” and makes clear that this principle “also prohibits accepting voluntary enlistment.”
245. Numerous international instruments have since been adopted, prohibiting the recruitment of minors of a certain age. A review of these international instruments and the two Protocols Additional to the Geneva Conventions show that a distinction can be drawn as to the very nature of the recruitment, that is to say between forcible and voluntary recruitment.
246. The Rome Statute prefers the terms “conscripting” and “enlisting” to “recruitment”. In light of the foregoing, the Chamber holds the view that “conscripting” and “enlisting” are two forms of recruitment, “conscripting” being forcible recruitment, while “enlisting” pertains more to voluntary recruitment. In this regard, the Chamber points out that this distinction was also made by Judge Robertson in his separate opinion appended to the judgement rendered by the Appeals Chamber of the Special Court for Sierra Leone on 31 May 2004 in the case of The Prosecutor v. Sam Hinga Norman.
247. It follows therefore that enlisting is a “voluntary” act, whilst conscripting is forcible recruitment. In other words, the child’s consent is not a valid defence.
248. Finally, the Chamber considers that the crime of enlisting and conscripting is an offence of a continuing nature – referred to by some courts as a “continuous crime” and by others as a “permanent crime”. The crime of enlisting or conscripting children under the age of fifteen years continues to be committed as long as the children remain in the armed groups or forces and consequently ceases to be committed when these children leave the groups or reach the age of fifteen. 
ICC, Lubanga case, Decision on the Confirmation of Charges, 29 January 2007, §§ 242–248.

Special Court for Sierra Leone
In the Bockarie case before the SCSL in 2003, the accused, a senior member of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), Junta and Armed Forces Revolutionary Council(AFRC)/RUF forces, was charged, inter alia, with:
Conscripting or enlisting children under the age of 15 years into armed forces or groups, or using them to participate actively in hostilities, an OTHER SERIOUS VIOLATION OF INTERNATIONAL HUMANITARIAN LAW, punishable under Article 4.c. of the [2002 Statute of the Special Court for Sierra Leone]. 
SCSL, Bockarie case, Indictment, 7 March 2003, § 49, Count 11.
[emphasis in original]
It was alleged that:
… throughout the Republic of Sierra Leone, AFRC/RUF routinely conscripted, enlisted and/or used boys and girls under the age of 15 to participate in active hostilities. Many of these children were first abducted, then trained in AFRC/RUF camps in various locations throughout the country, and thereafter used as fighters. 
SCSL, Bockarie case, Indictment, 7 March 2003, § 49.

Due to the accused’s death, the indictment was withdrawn. 
SCSL, Bockarie case, Withdrawal of Indictment, 8 December 2003.

In the Koroma case before the SCSL in 2003, the accused, the leader of the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC), a senior leader of the AFRC/ Revolutionary United Front (RUF), a senior member of the Junta regime, and exercising the powers of the President of the Republic of Sierra Leone from May 1997 to February 1998, was charged, inter alia, with:
Conscripting or enlisting children under the age of 15 years into armed forces or groups, or using them to participate actively in hostilities, an OTHER SERIOUS VIOLATION OF INTERNATIONAL HUMANITARIAN LAW, punishable under Article 4.c. of the [2002 Statute of the Special Court for Sierra Leone]. 
SCSL, Koroma case, Indictment, 7 March 2003, § 47, Count 11.
[emphasis in original]
It was alleged that:
… throughout the Republic of Sierra Leone, AFRC/RUF routinely conscripted, enlisted and/or used boys and girls under the age of 15 to participate in active hostilities. Many of these children were first abducted, then trained in AFRC/RUF camps in various locations throughout the country, and thereafter used as fighters. 
SCSL, Koroma case , Indictment, 7 March 2003, § 47.

In the Sankoh case before the SCSL in 2003, the accused, the leader of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), a senior leader in the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC)/RUF, and a senior member of the Junta regime, was charged, inter alia, with:
Conscripting or enlisting children under the age of 15 years into armed forces or groups, or using them to participate actively in hostilities, an OTHER SERIOUS VIOLATION OF INTERNATIONAL HUMANITARIAN LAW, punishable under Article 4.c. of the [2002 Statute of the Special Court for Sierra Leone]. 
SCSL, Sankoh case, Indictment, 7 March 2003, § 50, Count 11.
[emphasis in original]
It was alleged that:
… throughout the Republic of Sierra Leone, AFRC/RUF routinely conscripted, enlisted and/or used boys and girls under the age of 15 to participate in active hostilities. Many of these children were first abducted, then trained in AFRC/RUF camps in various locations throughout the country, and thereafter used as fighters. 
SCSL, Sankoh case, Indictment, 7 March 2003, § 50.

Due to the accused’s death, the indictment was withdrawn. 
SCSL, Sankoh case, Withdrawal of Indictment, 8 December 2003.

In the Norman case before the SCSL in 2004, the accused, a senior member of the Civil Defence Forces (CDF), was charged, inter alia, with the use of child soldiers as a serious violation of international humanitarian law, punishable under Article 4(c) of the 2002 Statute of the Special Court for Sierra Leone. 
SCSL, Norman case, Indictment, 4 February 2004, § 29, Count 8.

In its Decision on Preliminary Motion Based on Lack of Jurisdiction (Child Recruitment), the Appeals Chamber stated:
17. Prior to November 1996, the prohibition on child recruitment had … crystallised as customary international law. The formation of custom requires both state practice and a sense of pre-existing obligation (opinio iuris). “An articulated sense of obligation, without implementing usage, is nothing more than rhetoric. Conversely, state practice, without opinio iuris, is just habit.”
18. As regards state practice, the list of states having legislation concerning recruitment or voluntary enlistment clearly shows that almost all states prohibit (and have done so for a long time) the recruitment of children under the age of 15. Since 185 states, including Sierra Leone, were parties to the Geneva Conventions prior to 1996, it follows that the provisions of those conventions were widely recognised as customary international law. Similarly, 133 states, including Sierra Leone, ratified Additional Protocol II before 1995. Due to the high number of State Parties one can conclude that many of the provisions of Additional Protocol II, including the fundamental guarantees, were widely accepted as customary international law by 1996. Even though Additional Protocol II addresses internal conflicts, the ICTY Appeals Chamber held in Prosecutor v Tadić that “it does not matter whether the ‘serious violation’ has occurred within the context of an international or an internal armed conflict”. This means that children are protected by the fundamental guarantees, regardless of whether there is an international or internal conflict taking place.
19. Furthermore … all but six states had ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child [CRC] by 1996. This huge acceptance, the highest acceptance of all international conventions, clearly shows that the provision of the CRC became international customary law almost at the time of the entry into force of the Convention.
20. The widespread recognition and acceptance of the norm prohibiting child recruitment in Additional Protocol II and the CRC provides compelling evidence that the conventional norm entered customary international law well before 1996. The fact that there was not a single reservation to lower the legal obligation under Article 38 of the CRC underlines this, especially if one takes into consideration the fact that Article 38 is one of the very few conventional provisions which can claim universal acceptance.
21. The African Chamber on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, adopted the same year as the CRC came into force, reiterate with almost the same wording the prohibition of child recruitment:
Article 22(2): Armed Conflicts
2. States Parties to the present Charter shall take all necessary measures to ensure that no child shall take a direct part in hostilities and refrain, in particular, from recruiting any child.
22. As stated in the Toronto Amicus Brief, and indicated in the 1996 Machel Report, it is well-settled that all parties to an armed conflict, whether states or non-state actors, are bound by international humanitarian law, even though only states may become parties to international treaties. [emphasis in original] Customary international law represents the common standard of behaviour within the international community, thus even armed groups hostile to a particular government have to abide by these laws. It has also been pointed out that non-state entities are bound by necessity by the rules embodied in international humanitarian law instruments, that they are “responsible for the conduct of their members” and may be “held so responsible by opposing parties or by the outside world”. Therefore all parties to the conflict in Sierra Leone were bound by the prohibition of child recruitment that exists in international humanitarian law.
23. Furthermore, it should be mentioned that since the mid-1980s, states as well as non-state entities started to commit themselves to preventing the use of child soldiers and to ending the use of already recruited soldiers.
24. The central question which must now be considered is whether the prohibition on child recruitment also entailed individual criminal responsibility at the time of the crimes alleged in the indictments.

28. … The Special Court Statute, just like the ICTR Statute before, draws on Part II of Additional Protocol II entitled “Humane Treatment” and its fundamental guarantees, as well as Common Article 3 to the Geneva Conventions in specifying the crimes falling within its jurisdiction. “All the fundamental guarantees share a similar character. In recognising them as fundamental, the international community set a benchmark for the minimum standards for the conduct of armed conflict. Common Article 3 requires humane treatment and specifically addresses humiliating and degrading treatment. This includes the treatment of child soldiers in the course of their recruitment. Article 3(d) specifies further that the parties “should further endeavour to bring into force […] all or part of the other provisions of the present convention”, thus including the specific protection for children under the Geneva Conventions as stated above.
29. Furthermore, the UN Security Council condemned as early as 1996 the “inhumane and abhorrent practice” of recruiting, training and deploying children for combat. It follows that the protection of children is regarded as an important value. As can be verified in numerous reports of various human rights organizations, the practice of child recruitment bear the most atrocious consequences for the children.
3. Individual Criminal Responsibility
30. … the Defence refers to the Secretary-General’s statement that “while the prohibition on child recruitment has by now acquired a customary international law status, it is far less clear whether it is customarily recognised as a war crime entailing the individual criminal responsibility of the accused.” The ICTY Appeals Chamber upheld the legality of prosecution violations of the laws or customs of war, including violations of Common Article 3 and the Additional Protocols in the Tadić case in 1995. In creating the ICTR Statute, the Security Council explicitly recognized for the time that serious violations of fundamental guarantees lead to individual liability and this was confirmed later on by decisions and judgements of the ICTR. In its Judgement in the Akayesu case, the ICTR Trial Chamber, relying on the Tadić test, confirmed that a breach of a rule protecting important values was a “serious violation” entailing criminal responsibility. The Trial Chamber noted that Article 4 of the ICTR Statute was derived from Common Article 3 (containing fundamental prohibitions as a humanitarian minimum of protection for war victims) and Additional Protocol II, “which equally outlines ‘Fundamental Guarantees’”. The Chamber concluded that “it is clear that the authors of such egregious violations must incur individual criminal responsibility for their deeds”. Similarly, under the ICTY Statute adopted in 1993, a person acting in breach of Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions may face criminal sanctions, and this has been confirmed in ICTY jurisprudence.
31. The Committee on the Rights of the Child, the international monitoring body for the implementation of the CRC, showed exactly this understanding while issuing its recommendations to Uganda in 1997. The Committee recommended that: “awareness of the duty to fully respect the rules of international humanitarian law, in the spirit of article 38 of the Convention, inter alia with regard to children, should be made known to the parties to the armed conflict in the northern part of the State Party’s territory, and that violations of the rule of international humanitarian law entail responsibility being attributed to the perpetrators.”
32. In 1998 the Rome Statute for the International Criminal Court was adopted. It entered into force on 1 July 2002. Article 8 includes the crime of child recruitment in international armed conflict and internal armed conflict, the elements of which are elaborated in the Elements of Crimes adopted in 2000:
Article 8
War crimes
1. The Court shall have jurisdiction in respect of war crimes in particular when committed as part of a plan or policy or as part of a large-scale commission of such crimes.
2. For the purpose of this Statute, “war crimes” means:
[…]
(b) Other serious violations of the laws and customs applicable in international armed conflict, within the established framework of international law, namely, any of the following acts:
[…]
(xxvi) Conscripting or enlisting children under the age of fifteen years into the national armed forces or using them to participate actively in hostilities.
33. The Defence, noting the concerns of the United States, argues that the Rome Statute created new legislation. The argument fails for the following reasons: first, the first draft of the Rome Statute was produced as early as 1994 referring generally to war crimes; second, in the first session of the Preparatory Committee it was proposed that the ICC should have the power to prosecute serious violations of Common Article 3 and Additional Protocol II; third, discussion continued during 1996 and 1997 when Germany proposed the inclusion of child recruitment under the age of fifteen as a crime “within the established framework of international law”; and finally, it was the German proposal to include “conscripting or enlisting children under the age of fifteen years […]” that was accepted in the final draft of the Statute. With regard to the United States, an authoritative report of the proceedings of the Rome Conference states “the United States in particular took the view that [child recruitment] did not reflect international customary law, and was more a human right provision than a criminal law provision. However, the majority felt strongly that the inclusion was justified by near-universal acceptance of the norm, the violation of which warranted the most fundamental disapprobation.” The question whether or not the United States could be said to have persistently objected to the formation of the customary norm is irrelevant to its status as such a norm. The discussion during the preparation of the Rome Statute focused on the codification and effective implementation of the existing customary norm rather than the formation of a new one.
34. Building on the principles set out in the earlier Conventions, the 1999 ILO Convention 182 Concerning the Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of Worst Forms of Child Labour, provided:
Article 1
Each Member which ratifies this Convention shall take immediate and effective measures to secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour as a matter of urgency.
Article 2
For the purposes of this Convention, the term “child” shall apply to all persons under the age of 18.
Article 3
For the purposes of this Convention, the term “the worst forms of child labour” comprises:
(a) all forms of slavery or practices similar to slavery, such as the sale and trafficking of children, debt bondage and serfdom and forced or compulsory labour, included forced or compulsory recruitment of children for use in armed conflict.
It is clear that by the time Article 2 of this Convention was formulated, the debate had moved on from the question whether the recruitment of children under the age of 15 was prohibited or indeed criminalized, and the focus had shifted to the next step in the development of international law, namely the raising of the standard to all children under the age of 18. This led finally to the wording of Article 4 of the Optional Protocol II to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict.
35. The CRC Optional Protocol II was signed on 25 May 2000 and came into force on 12 February 2002. It has 115 signatories and has been ratified by 70 states. The relevant Article for our purposes is Article 4 which states:
1. Armed groups that are distinct from the armed forces of a State should not, under any circumstances, recruit or use in hostilities persons under the age of 18 years.
2. States Parties shall take all feasible measures to prevent such recruitment and use, including the adoption of legal measures necessary to prohibit and criminalize such practices.
36. The Defence argues that the first mention of the criminalization of child recruitment occurs in Article 4(2) of the CRC Optional Protocol II. Contrary to this argument, the Article in fact demonstrates that the aim at this stage was to raise the standard of the prohibition of child recruitment from age 15 to 18, proceeding from the assumption that the conduct was already criminalized at the time in question.

39. The prohibition of child recruitment constitutes a fundamental guarantee and although it is not enumerated in the ICTR and ICTY Statutes, it shares the same character and is of the same gravity as the violations that are explicitly listed in those Statutes. The fact that the ICTY and ICTR have prosecuted violations of Additional Protocol II provides further evidence of the criminality of child recruitment before 1996.

41. Article 38 of the CRC states that State Parties have to take “all feasible measures” to ensure that children under 15 do not take part in hostilities and Article 4 urges them to “undertake all appropriate legislative […] measures” for the implementation of the CRC. As all “feasible measures” and “appropriate legislation” are at the disposal of states to prevent child recruitment, it would seem that these also include criminal sanctions as measures of enforcement. As it has aptly been stated: “Words on paper cannot save children in peril.”
42. In the instant case, further support for the finding that the nullum crimen principle has not been breached is found in the national legislation of states which included criminal sanctions as a measure of enforcement.
43. The Defence submitted during the oral hearing that there is not a single country in the world that has criminalized the practice of recruiting child soldiers and that child recruitment was not only not a war crime but it was doubtful whether the provision of the CRC protected child soldiers. A simple reading of Article 38 of the CRC disposes of the latter argument. Concerning the former argument, it is clearly wrong. An abundance of states criminalized child recruitment in the aftermath of the Rome Statute, as for example Australia. In response to its ratification of the Rome Statute, Australia passed the International Criminal Court (Consequential Amendments) Act. Its purpose was to make the offences in the Rome Statute offences under Commonwealth law. Section 268.68(1) creates the offence of using, conscripting and enlisting children in the course of an international armed conflict and sets out the elements of the crime and the applicable terms of imprisonment. Section 268.88 contains similar provisions relating to conflict that is not an international armed conflict.
44. By 2001, and in most cases prior to the Rome Statute, 108 states explicitly prohibited child recruitment, one example dating back to 1902, and a further 15 states that do not have specific legislation did not show any indication of using child soldiers. The list of states in the 2001 Child Soldiers Global Report clearly shows that states with quite different legal systems – civil law, common law, Islamic law – share the same view on the topic.
45. It is sufficient to mention a few examples of national legislation criminalizing child recruitment prior to 1996 in order to further demonstrate that the nullum crimen principle is upheld. As set out in UNICEF Amicus Brief, Ireland’s Geneva Convention Act provides that any “minor breach” of the Geneva conventions […], as well as any “contravention” of Additional Protocol II, are punishable offences. The operative Code of Military justice of Argentina states that breaches of treaty provisions providing for special protection of children are war crimes. Norway’s Military Penal Code states that […] anyone who contravenes or is accessory to the contravention of provisions relating to the protection of persons or property laid down in […] the Geneva Conventions […] [and in] the two additional protocols to these Conventions […] is liable to imprisonment.
46. More specifically in relation to the principle nullum crimen sine poena, before 1996 three different approaches by states to the issue of punishment of child recruitment under national law can be distinguished.
47. First, as already described, certain states from various legal systems have criminalized the recruitment of children under 15 in their national legislation. Second, the vast majority of states lay down the prohibition of child recruitment in military law. However, sanctions can be found in the provisions of criminal law as for example in Austria and Germany or in administrative legislation, criminalizing any breaches of law by civil servants. Examples of the latter include Afghanistan and Turkey. Legislation of the third group of states simply makes it impossible for an individual to recruit children, as the military administration imposes strict controls through an obligatory cadet schooling, as for example in England, Mauritania and Switzerland. In these states, provisions for punishment are unnecessary as it is impossible for the crime to be committed.

50. Customary law, as it name indicates, derives from custom. Custom takes time to develop. It is thus impossible and even contrary to the concept of customary law to determine a given event, day or date upon which it can be stated with certainty that a norm has crystallised. One can nevertheless say that during a certain period the conscience of leaders and populations started to note a given problem. In the case of recruiting child soldiers this happened during the mid-1980s. One can further determine a period where customary law begins to develop, which in the current case began with the acceptance of key international instruments between 1990 and 1994. Finally, one can determine the period during which the majority of states criminalized the prohibited behaviour, which in this case, as demonstrated, was the period between 1994 and 1996. It took a further six years for the recruitment of children between the ages of 15 and 18 to be included in treaty law as individually punishable behaviour. The development process concerning the recruitment of child soldiers, taking into account the definition of children as persons under the age of 18, culminated in the codification of the matter in the CRC Optional Protocol II.
51. The overwhelming majority of states, as shown above, did not practise recruitment of children under 15 according to their national laws and many had, whether through criminal or administrative law, criminalized such behaviour prior to 1996. The fact that child recruitment still occurs and is thus illegally practised does not detract from the validity of the customary norm. It cannot be said that there is a contrary practice with a corresponding opinio iuris as states clearly consider themselves to be under a legal obligation not to practise child recruitment.
4. Good Faith
52. The rejection of the use of child soldiers by the international community was widespread by 1994. In addition, by the time of the 1996 Graça Machel Report, it was no longer possible to claim to be acting in good faith while recruiting child soldiers …
53. Child recruitment was criminalized before it was explicitly set of as a criminal prohibition in treaty law and certainly by November 1996, the starting point of the time frame relevant to the indictments. As set out above, the principle of legality and the principle of specificity are both upheld. 
SCSL, Norman case, Decision on Preliminary Motion Based on Lack of Jurisdiction (Child Recruitment), Appeals Chamber, 31 May 2004, §§ 17–24, 28–36, 39, 41–47 and 50–53.
[emphasis in original]
In the Fofana and Kondewa case before the SCSL in 2004, the accused, senior members of the Civil Defence Forces (CDF), were charged, inter alia, with the offence of enlisting children under the age of 15 years into armed forces or groups or using them to participate actively in hostilities as a serious violation of international humanitarian law, punishable under Article 4(c) of the 2002 Statute of the Special Court for Sierra Leone. 
SCSL, Fofana and Kondewa case, Indictment, 4 February 2004, § 29, Count 8.

In its judgment in 2007, the Trial Chamber stated, with regard to the offence of enlisting children under the age of 15 years into armed forces or groups:
182. The Indictment under Count 8 charges the Accused with the offence of enlisting children under the age of 15 years into armed forces or groups or using them to participate actively in hostilities as an “other serious violation of international humanitarian law” pursuant to Article 4(c) of the [2002 Statute of the Special Court for Sierra Leone]. This Count alleges that the Accused are responsible for the initiation or enlistment of children under the age of 15 into armed forces or groups, or the use of children under the age of 15 to participate actively in hostilities, throughout the Republic of Sierra Leone, at all time relevant to the Indictment.
183. The Chamber observes that the offences related to child soldiers, viewed against the background of the Statutes of the ICTR and the ICTR where no such provisions exist, are novel in the Statute of the Special Court for Sierra Leone that came into force on 16 January 2002.
184. In this regard, the Chamber recalls the preliminary motion filed by the Accused Norman, challenging the jurisdiction of the Special Court to try him for any offence under Article 4(d) of the Statute, on the basis that it would violation the principle of nullum crimen sine lege, since it did not amount to a crime under customary international humanitarian law at the time of the alleged offence. The Chamber determined that the motion raised a serious issue relating to jurisdiction under the mandatory provisions of Rule 72(E) of the Rules, and referred the matter to the Appeals Chamber. The Appeals Chamber dismissed the motion, and ruled that the offence of recruitment of child soldiers below the age of 15 did in fact constitute a crime under customary international law which entailed individual criminal responsibility prior to the time frame of the Indictment.
185. The Chamber is cognisant of the fact that there are no express treaty provisions in the Geneva Conventions of 1949 proscribing the recruitment, conscription and enlistment, or use of children under the age of 15 to participate actively in hostilities except to the extent only of a prohibition under Article 51(1) of the Fourth Geneva Convention on “compelling protected persons to serve in the armed or auxiliary forces.”
186. The Chamber notes that the Geneva Conventions do not directly address the recruitment of children for the following reason:
Where children had participated in hostilities [during World War II] it had been as irregulars – partisans or resisters. Such participation was consequently seen by Allied powers as voluntary and heroic or (at best) an unfortunate necessity. It was seen as something exceptional and not, consequently, requiring legal regulation; being unlikely to be repeated. [emphasis added by the Fofana and Kondewa Trial Chamber]
187. The Chamber considers that, by the time the Additional Protocols were negotiated, the need to explicitly prohibit the recruitment of children had emerged. As noted by the Appeals Chamber, both Additional Protocol I and Additional Protocol II explicitly proscribe the recruitment of children under the age of 15. Article 4(3)(c) of Additional Protocol II states categorically that “children who have not attained the age of fifteen years shall neither be recruited in the armed forces or groups nor allowed to take part in hostilities”. Although the prohibition in Article 77(2) of Additional Protocol I is more narrowly circumscribed, it also clearly prohibits the recruitment of children “[t]he Parties to the conflict shall take all feasible measures in order that children who have not attained the age of fifteen years do not take a direct part in hostilities and, in particular, they shall refrain from recruiting them into their armed forces.”
188. The Appeals Chamber also derived some support for its conclusion as to the proscription of offences in question from the Convention on the Rights of the Child which prohibits the recruitment of children under the age of 15 as soldiers.
189. Relying on the Appeals Chamber Decision, this Chamber acknowledges, as existing law, that “child recruitment was criminalised before it was explicitly set out as a criminal prohibition in treaty law and certainly by November 1996, the starting point of the time relevant to the Indictment”, the implication being that “the principle of legality and the principle of specificity are both upheld”.
190. In this Decision, the Appeals Chamber dealt specifically with the offence of “recruitment” of child soldiers. The actual language of Article 4(c) of the Statute uses the terms “conscription,” “enlistment” and “using [children] to participate actively in hostilities”. Count 8 of the Indictment, however, makes reference to the concepts of “enlistment”, “using children to participate actively in hostilities”, and also “initiation” of children into the armed forces or groups. The Chamber deems it necessary to examine these terms and their relevance to this case, specifically, whether “enlistment”, “using children to participate actively in hostilities”, and also “initiation” of children into the armed forces or groups, are prohibited under customary international law.
191. The Chamber notes that “recruitment” is the subject of the proscription under the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and the Additional Protocols of 1977 rather than “enlistment”, “conscription” or “use” of child soldiers, the terms used in the Statute. However, it is pertinent that the notion of “recruitment”, is interpreted in the ICRC Commentary to Article 4(3)(c) of Additional Protocol II compendiously to encompass “conscription”, “enlistment” and the “use of children to participate actively in hostilities”. To this effect, paragraph 4557 of the Commentary states:
The principle of non-recruitment also prohibits accepting voluntary enlistment. Not only can a child not be recruited, or enlist himself, but furthermore he will not be ‘allowed to take part in hostilities’, i.e., to participate in military operations such as gathering information, transmitting orders, transporting ammunition and foodstuffs, or acts of sabotage.
192. Both in everyday language, and in the commentary quoted above, it is clear that voluntary enlistment is but one type of enlistment. The Chamber therefore finds that the term “enlistment” could encompass both voluntary enlistment and forced enlistment into armed forces or groups, forced enlistment being the aggravated form of the crime. In the Chamber’s opinion however, the distinction between the two categories is somewhat contrived. Attributing voluntary enlistment in the armed forces to a child under the age of 15 years, particularly in a conflict setting where human rights abuses are rife, is, in the Chamber’s view, of questionable merit. Nonetheless, for the purposes of the Indictment, where “enlistment” alone is alleged, the Accused is put on notice that both voluntary and forced enlistment are charged.

197. The Appeals Chamber ruled that the offence of recruitment of child soldiers had crystallised under customary international law prior to the events alleged in the Indictment. In so finding, it dismissed the applicant’s argument that the offences listed under Article 4(c) of the Statute did not constitute crimes during the time of the events. Enlistment is clearly a form of recruitment…
198. The Indictment also charges the Accused with “initiation” of child soldiers, which is not listed as an offence in the Statute. However, it is the opinion of the Chamber that evidence of “initiation” may be of relevance in establishing liability under Article 4(c) of the Statute.
199. It is the Chamber’s view that the rules of international humanitarian law apply equally to all parties in an armed conflict, regardless of the means by which they were recruited. Furthermore, the Chamber is mindful that special protection provided by Article 4(3)(d) of Additional Protocol II remains applicable in the event that children under the age of 15 are conscripted, enlisted, or used to participate in hostilities. 
SCSL, Fofana and Kondewa case, Judgment, 2 August 2007, §§ 182–192 and 197–199.
[emphasis in original]
In its judgment in 2008, the Appeals Chamber, in considering the crime of enlisting child soldiers under Article 4.c of the 2002 Statute of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, stated:
125. The Appeals Chamber is of the view that the crime of enlisting children under the age of 15 years into armed forces or groups … may be committed irrespective of the number of children enlisted by the accused person.

139. The Appeals Chamber affirms that the crime of recruitment by way of conscripting or enlisting children under the age of 15 years into an armed force or group … constitutes a crime under customary international law entailing individual criminal responsibility. Pursuant to Article 4.c. of the [2002] Statute [of the Special Court for Sierra Leone], the crime of conscripting or enlisting children or using them to participate actively in hostilities, constitutes another serious violation of international humanitarian law. The actus reus requires that the accused recruited children by way of conscripting or enlisting them.

140. According to the Trial Chamber in the AFRC Trial Judgment, enlistment means “accepting and enrolling individuals when they volunteer to join an armed force or group.” [Brima case, Judgement, § 735] The act of enlisting presupposes that the individual in question voluntarily consented to be part of the armed force or group. However, where a child under the age of 15 years is allowed to voluntarily join an armed force or group, his or her consent is not a valid defence.
141. It is apparent to the Appeals Chamber that there is a paucity of jurisprudence on the question of how direct an act must be to constitute “enlistment” under Article 4.c., as well as the possible modes of enlistment. The Appeals Chamber holds that for enlistment there must be a nexus between the act of the accused and the child joining the armed force or group. There must also be knowledge on the part of the accused that the child is under the age of 15 years and that he or she may be trained for combat. Whether such a nexus exists is a question of fact which must be determined on a case-by-case basis.

144. In the context of this case, in which the armed group is not a conventional military organisation, “enlistment” cannot narrowly be defined as a formal process. The Appeals Chamber regards “enlistment” in the broad sense as including any conduct accepting the child as a part of the militia. Such conduct would include making him participate in military operations. 
SCSL, Fofana and Kondewa case, Judgment on Appeal, 28 May 2008, §§ 125, 139–141 and 144.
[footnotes in original omitted]
In the Brima case before the SCSL in 2005, the three accused, all former non-commissioned officers in the Sierra Leone Army who became senior members of the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) that seized power from the elected government of the Republic of Sierra Leone in May 1997, were charged, inter alia, with:
Conscripting or enlisting children under the age of 15 years into armed forces or groups, or using them to participate actively in hostilities, an OTHER SERIOUS VIOLATION OF INTERNATIONAL HUMANITARIAN LAW, punishable under Article 4.c. of the [2002 Statute of the Special Court for Sierra Leone]. 
SCSL, Brima case, Further Amended Consolidated Indictment, 18 February 2005, § 65, Count 12.
[emphasis in original]
It was alleged that:
… throughout the Republic of Sierra Leone, AFRC/RUF [Revolutionary United Front] routinely conscripted, enlisted and/or used boys and girls under the age of 15 to participate in active hostilities. Many of these children were first abducted, then trained in AFRC/RUF camps in various locations throughout the country, and thereafter used as fighters. 
SCSL, Brima case, Further Amended Consolidated Indictment, 18 February 2005, § 65.

In its judgment, the Trial Chamber considered the law relating to the recruitment and use of child soldiers:
727. … The Accused are … charged with conscripting or enlisting children under the age of 15 years into armed forces or groups, or using them to participate actively in hostilities (“conscripting, enlisting or using child soldiers”), an ‘other serious violation of international humanitarian law’, punishable under Article 4(c) of the [2002 Statute of the Special Court for Sierra Leone].
728. The question of whether this crime is recognised as a crime entailing individual criminal responsibility under customary international was examined by the Appeals Chamber [Norman case, Decision on Preliminary Motion Based on Lack of Jurisdiction (Child Recruitment), 31 May 2004 (“Appeal Decision on Child Recruitment”)], which found that, prior to November 1996, the crime had crystallised as customary law, regardless of whether committed in internal or international armed conflict, and held that:
[c]hild recruitment was criminalised before it was explicitly set out as a criminal prohibition in treaty law and certainly by November 1996, the starting point of the time frame relevant to the indictments. As set out above, the principle of legality and the principle of specificity are both upheld.
(a) Elements of the Crime
729. Guided once more by the Rome Statute, the Trial Chamber adopts the following elements of the crime of conscripting or enlisting children under the age of 15 years into armed forces or groups, or using them to participate actively in hostilities:
1. The perpetrator conscripted or enlisted one or more persons into an armed force or group or used one or more persons to participate actively in hostilities;
2. Such person or persons were under the age of 15 years;
3. The perpetrator knew or should have known that such person or persons were under the age of 15 years;
4. The conduct took place in the context of and was associated with an armed conflict;
5. The perpetrator was aware of factual circumstances that established the existence of an armed conflict. [see Rome Statute, Elements of Crimes, Article 8(2)(b)(xxvi)]

733. The actus reus of the crime can be satisfied by “conscripting” or “enlisting” children under the age of 15, or by “using” them to participate actively in the hostilities.
734. “Conscription” implies compulsion, in some instances through the force of law. While the traditional meaning of the term refers to government policies requiring citizens to serve in their armed forces, the Trial Chamber observes that Article 4(c) allows for the possibility that children be conscripted into “[armed] groups”. While previously wars were primarily between well established States, contemporaneous armed conflicts typically involve armed factions which may not be associated with, or acting on behalf, a State. To give the protection against crimes relating to child soldiers its intended effect, it is justified not to restrict “conscription” to the prerogative of States and their legitimate Governments, as international humanitarian law is not grounded on formalistic postulations. Rather, the Trial Chamber adopts an interpretation of ‘conscription’ which encompasses acts of coercion, such as abductions and forced recruitment, by an armed group against children, committed for the purpose of using them to participate actively in hostilities.
735. “Enlistment” entails accepting and enrolling individuals when they volunteer to join an armed force or group. Enlistment is a voluntary act, and the child’s consent is therefore not a valid defence.
736. “Using” children to “participate actively in the hostilities” encompasses putting their lives directly at risk in combat. As a footnote attached to the Preparatory Conference on the establishment of the International Criminal Court states
The words “using” and “participate” have been adopted in order to cover both participation in combat and also active participation in military activities linked to combat such as scouting, spying, sabotage and use of children as decoys, couriers or at military checkpoints.
737. It is the Trial Chamber’s view that the use of children to participate actively in hostilities is not limited to participation in combat. An armed force requires logistical support to maintain its operations. Any labour or support that gives effect to, or helps maintain, operations in a conflict constitutes active participation. Hence carrying loads for the fighting faction, finding and/or acquiring food, ammunition or equipment, acting as decoys, carrying messages, making trails or finding routes, manning checkpoints or acting as human shields are some examples of active participation as much as actual fighting and combat.
738. The elements of ‘armed forces or groups’ entail that the armed forces or groups must be under responsible command, which entails a degree of organization which should be such as to enable the armed groups to plan and carry out concerted military operations and to impose discipline within the armed group. 
SCSL, Brima case, Judgment, 20 June 2007, §§ 727–729 and 733–738.

Subsequently, each of the three accused was found guilty, inter alia, of the charge of committing acts of “conscripting or enlisting children under the age of 15 years into armed forces or groups, or using them to participate actively in hostilities”. 
SCSL, Brima case, Judgment, 20 June 2007, XIII. Disposition, §§ 2113–2123.

Brima and Kanu were each sentenced to 50 years’ imprisonment; Kamara was sentenced to 45 years’ imprisonment. 
SCSL, Brima case, Sentencing Judgment, 19 July 2007, VI. Disposition.

In the Sesay case before the SCSL in 2006, the accused Sesay and Kallon, senior commanders in the RUF (Revolutionary United Front), Junta and AFRC (Armed Forces Revolutionary Council)/RUF forces, and the accused Gbao, senior commander in the RUF and AFRC/RUF forces, were charged, inter alia, with:
Conscripting or enlisting children under the age of 15 years into armed forces or groups, or using them to participate actively in hostilities, an OTHER SERIOUS VIOLATION OF INTERNATIONAL HUMANITARIAN LAW, punishable under Article 4.c. of the [2002 Statute of the Special Court for Sierra Leone]. 
SCSL, Sesay case, Corrected Amended Consolidated Indictment, 2 August 2006, § 68, Count 12.
[emphasis in original]
It was alleged that:
… throughout the Republic of Sierra Leone, AFRC/RUF routinely conscripted, enlisted and/or used boys and girls under the age [o]f 15 to participate in active hostilities. Many of these children were first abducted, then trained in AFRC/RUF camps in various locations throughout the country, and thereafter used as fighters. 
SCSL, Sesay case, Corrected Amended Consolidated Indictment, 2 August 2006, § 68.

In its judgment in the case in 2009, the Trial Chamber set out the elements of the crime of recruiting children into armed forces, stating:
186. The Chamber recalls that conscription means the “compulsory enlistment of persons into military service.” In the context of lawful governments, conscription is generally legitimized through constitutional or legislative powers. However, conscription also encompasses what is commonly known as “forced recruitment”, wherein individuals are recruited through illegal means, for instance through the use of force or following abduction.
187. The Chamber takes this opportunity to repeat, however, that “the distinction between voluntary enlistment and conscription is somewhat contrived. Attributing voluntary enlistment in armed forces or groups to a child under the age of 15 years, particularly in a conflict setting where human rights abuses are rife, is, in the Chamber’s view, of questionable merit.” [SCSL, Fofana and Kondewa case, Judgement, § 192]

190. The Chamber considers that the specific elements of enlisting or conscripting children under the age of 15 years into armed forces or groups are:
(i) One or more persons were enlisted or conscripted by the Accused into an armed force or group;
(ii) Such person or persons were under the age of 15 years;
(iii) The Accused knew or had reason to know that such person or persons were under the age of 15 years and that they may be trained for or used in combat; and
(iv) The Accused intended to conscript or enlist the said persons into the armed force or group.
191. The Appeals Chamber held that a nexus must be established between the act of the Accused and the child joining the armed force or group in order to constitute enlistment. “Whether such a nexus exists is a question of fact which must be determined on a case-by-case basis.” [SCSL, Fofana and Kondewa case, Judgement on Appeal, § 141]
192. The Appeals Chamber has stated that the mens rea requirement of the offence requires not only that the person be aware that the child is under the age of 15, but also that the child may be trained for or used in combat.

194. It is the Chamber’s view that the rules of international humanitarian law apply equally to all parties in an armed conflict, regardless of the means by which they were recruited. Furthermore, the Chamber is mindful that the special protection provided by Article 4(3)(d) of [the 1977] Additional Protocol II remains applicable in the event that children under the age of 15 are conscripted, enlisted, or used to participate actively in the hostilities. 
SCSL, Sesay case, Judgment, 2 March 2009, §§ 186–187, 190–192 and 194.
[footnotes in original omitted]
In its judgment in 2009, the Appeals Chamber stated:
The Appeals Chamber has previously held that the prohibition on conscripting … child soldiers existed in customary international law at the times relevant to the offences in this case, and that violation of this prohibition incurs individual criminal responsibility in customary international law. In reaching those holdings, the Appeals Chamber observed that a significant body of conventional international law imposes an obligation on parties to “take all feasible measures” to ensure that children are not recruited … The accused are under a duty to act with due diligence to ensure that children under the age of 15 are not recruited … Failure to exercise such due diligence to ascertain the age of recruits does not relieve an accused of his liability for their recruitment. 
SCSL, Sesay case, Judgment on Appeal, 26 October 2009, § 923.
[footnotes in original omitted]
In the Taylor case before the SCSL in 2007, the accused, former President of the Republic of Liberia, was charged, inter alia, with:
Conscripting or enlisting children under the age of 15 years into armed forces or groups, or using them to participate actively in hostilities, an OTHER SERIOUS VIOLATION OF INTERNATIONAL HUMANITARIAN LAW, punishable under Article 4.c. of the [2002 Statute of the Special Court for Sierra Leone]. 
SCSL, Taylor case, Second Amended Indictment, 29 May 2007, § 22, Count 9.
[emphasis in original]
It was alleged that:
Between about 30 November 1996 and about 18 January 2002, throughout the Republic of Sierra Leone, members of RUF [Revolutionary United Front], AFRC [Armed Forces Revolutionary Council], AFRC/RUF Junta or alliance, and/or Liberian fighters, assisted and encouraged by, acting in concert with, under the direction and/or control of, and/or subordinate to the ACCUSED, routinely conscripted, enlisted and/or used boys and girls under the age of 15 to participate in active hostilities. Many of these children were first abducted, then trained in AFRC and/or RUF camps in various locations throughout the country, and thereafter used as fighters. 
SCSL, Taylor case, Second Amended Indictment, 29 May 2007, § 22.
[emphasis in original]
Human Rights Committee
In its concluding observations on the initial report of Uganda in 2004, the Human Rights Committee stated:
The Committee is concerned about the magnitude of the problem of abduction of children, in particular in northern Uganda … It is also concerned about the fate of former child soldiers …
The State party should take the necessary steps, as a matter of extreme urgency and in a comprehensive manner, to face the abduction of children, and to reintegrate former child soldiers into society. 
Human Rights Committee, Concluding observations on the initial report of Uganda, UN Doc. CCPR/CO/80/UGA, 4 May 2004, § 15.
[emphasis in original]
In its concluding observations on the second periodic report of Paraguay in 2006, the Human Rights Committee stated that its regrets that Paraguay had not provided sufficient information on
… steps taken to abolish the recruitment of children for military service and is concerned about the persistence of this practice, especially in rural areas. Child soldiers are said to be used as forced labour, and cases of ill-treatment and death have been reported (articles 6, 8 and 24 of the [1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights])
The State party should abolish the recruitment of children for military service, investigate cases of ill-treatment and death of conscripts and compensate the victims. 
Human Rights Committee, Concluding observations on the second periodic report of Paraguay, UN Doc. CCPR/C/PRY/CO/2, 24 April 2006, § 14.
[emphasis in original]
In its concluding observations on the third periodic report of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2006, the Human Rights Committee stated:
[T]he Committee remains concerned at … the forced recruitment of many children into armed militias and, although to a lesser extent, into the regular army (article 8 of the [1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights]).
The State party should pursue its efforts to eradicate these phenomena. Information on steps taken by the authorities to … eliminate the forced recruitment of minors into the armed forces and rehabilitate and protect the victims, among other things by reinforcing the activities of the National Commission for the Demobilization and Reintegration of Child Soldiers (CONADER), should be provided in the next periodic report. 
Human Rights Committee, Concluding observations on the third periodic report of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, UN Doc. CCPR/C/COD/CO/3, 26 April 2006, § 18.
[emphasis in original]
In its concluding observations on the third periodic report of the Sudan in 2007, the Human Rights Committee stated:
While noting efforts by the State party to eradicate the practice of forced recruitment of child soldiers, including the establishment of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration commissions, and the reference made by the State party to the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration commission website, the Committee remains concerned at the small number of children who have actually been demobilized. It also notes the statement by the State party that in the absence of a comprehensive civil register it is difficult to determine the exact ages of the people serving in its armed forces. (arts. 8 and 24 of the [1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights])
The State party should put an end to all recruitment and use of child soldiers, and provide disarmament, demobilization and reintegration commissions with the human and financial resources they need to fulfil their mandates, in order to ensure the expertise required to demobilize child soldiers. The State party should also speed up its programme for the establishment of a civil register, and ensure that all births are registered throughout the country. 
Human Rights Committee, Concluding observations on the third periodic report of the Sudan, UN Doc. CCPR/C/SDN/CO/3, 29 August 2007, § 17.
[emphasis in original]
Committee on the Rights of the Child
In 1997, in its concluding observations on Myanmar, the Committee on the Rights of the Child strongly recommended that “the army of the State party should absolutely refrain from recruiting under-aged children in the light of existing international human rights and humanitarian standards” and that “all forced recruitment of children should be abolished”. 
Committee on the Rights of the Child, Concluding observations on the report of Myanmar, UN Doc. CRC/C/15/Add.69, 24 January 1997, § 42.

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ICRC
To fulfil its task of disseminating IHL, the ICRC has delegates around the world teaching armed and security forces the rule that “children under the age of fifteen years shall not be recruited into the armed forces” and that “in recruiting among the persons having attained the age of fifteen years but not the age of eighteen years, priority shall be given to those who are the oldest”. 
Frédéric de Mulinen, Handbook on the Law of War for Armed Forces, ICRC, Geneva, 1987, § 38.

Council of Delegates (1993)
At its Birmingham Session in 1993, the Council of Delegates adopted a resolution on child soldiers in which it stressed “the responsibility of recruiters and commanders in armed forces or groups to prevent the recruitment and enrolment of children” and requested the ICRC and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, in cooperation with the Henry Dunant Institute, “to draw up and implement a Plan of Action for the Movement aimed at promoting the principle of non-recruitment … of children below the age of eighteen in armed conflicts”. 
International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, Council of Delegates, Birmingham Session, 29–30 October 1993, Res. 4, preamble and § 4.

ICRC
In 1994, in a Memorandum on Respect for International Humanitarian Law in Angola, the ICRC stated: “Those under the age of 15 shall not be recruited.” 
ICRC, Memorandum on Respect for International Humanitarian Law in Angola, 8 June 1994, § I, IRRC, No. 320, 1997, p. 503.

In 1994, in a statement before the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly, the ICRC stated that IHL prohibits the recruitment of children in both international and non-international armed conflicts and referred to Article 77(2) of the 1977 Additional Protocol I, Article 4(3) of the 1977 Additional Protocol II and Article 38 of the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child. The ICRC observed that despite these clear prohibitions, an ever-increasing number of children were involved in combat, emphasized the need for full compliance with the existing rules and expressed full support for the adoption of an optional protocol to the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child to prohibit the recruitment of children under 18. 
ICRC, Statement before the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly, 11 November 1994, p. 2.

In a document submitted to the Committee on the Rights of the Child in 1995, the ICRC recalled:
In an international armed conflict, if children take part in the hostilities despite the prohibition against this in the Geneva Conventions, they are nevertheless entitled to prisoner-of-war status in the event of capture. 
ICRC, Document submitted to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Administration of Juvenile Justice, Geneva, 13 November 1995, p. 1.

Council of Delegates (1995)
At its Geneva Session in 1995, the Council of Delegates adopted a resolution on children in armed conflicts in which it endorsed
the Plan of Action for the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement prepared by the International Federation and the ICRC, in cooperation with the Henry Dunant Institute, which aims to promote the principle of … non-recruitment of children below the age of 18 years in armed conflicts. 
International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, Council of Delegates, Geneva Session, 1–2 December 1995, Res. 5, § 2.

ICRC
In 1996, in a statement before the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly, the ICRC condemned the recruitment of children in armed forces and considered that “legal standards must be raised with a view to prohibiting the recruitment of children below 18 years of age”. 
ICRC, Statement before the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly, 12 November 1996, p. 1.

In a working paper on war crimes submitted in 1997 to the Preparatory Committee for the Establishment of an International Criminal Court, the ICRC listed recruiting children under the age of 15 years in the armed forces as a serious violation of IHL in international and non-international armed conflicts that should be subject to the jurisdiction of the ICC. 
ICRC, Working paper on war crimes submitted to the Preparatory Committee for the Establishment of an International Criminal Court, 14 February 1997, §§ 2(v) and 3(xii).

Council of Delegates (1997)
At its Seville Session in 1997, the Council of Delegates adopted a resolution on peace, IHL and human rights in which it appealed to all National Societies “to promote the Movement’s position on the 18-year age limit for recruitment … with a view to encouraging their respective governments to adopt national legislation and recruitment procedures in line with this position”. It asked National Societies that had already adopted the 18-year age limit for recruitment “to urge their governments to make their positions known to other governments, and to encourage their respective governments to participate in and support the process of drafting an optional protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on involvement of children in armed conflict”. 
International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, Council of Delegates, Seville Session, 25–27 November 1997, Res. 8, §§ 5 and 6.

ICRC
In 1998, in a statement before the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly, the ICRC welcomed the adoption of the 1998 ICC Statute, “which lists as a war crime the conscription or enlistment of children under 15 into armed forces or groups”. 
ICRC, Statement before the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly, 21 October 1998, p. 2.

Council of Delegates (1999)
At its Geneva Session in 1999, the Council of Delegates adopted a resolution on children affected by armed conflict in which it encouraged all National Societies
to support, particularly through contacts with their government, the adoption of international instruments implementing the principle of non-participation … of children below the age of 18 in armed conflicts with a view to such instruments being applicable to all situations of armed conflict and to all armed groups. 
International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, Council of Delegates, Geneva Session, 29–30 October 1999, Res. 8, § 4.

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Human Rights Watch
In 1994, in a report on Angola, Human Rights Watch condemned the enrolment of children below the age of 15 in armed forces as a violation of human rights. 
Human Rights Watch, Arms Project Angola: Arms Trade and Violations of the Laws of War since the 1992 Elections, Luanda, 1994, pp. 83 ff.

Turku Declaration of Minimum Humanitarian Standards
The Turku Declaration of Minimum Humanitarian Standards, adopted by an expert meeting convened by the Institute for Human Rights of Åbo Akademi University in Turku/Åbo, Finland in 1990, states: “Children who have not yet attained the age of fifteen years shall not be recruited in or allowed to join armed forces or armed groups.” 
Turku Declaration of Minimum Humanitarian Standards, adopted by an expert meeting convened by the Institute for Human Rights, Åbo Akademi University, Turku/Åbo, 30 November–2 December 1990, Article 10, IRRC, No. 282, p. 334.

Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A)
The Report on SPLM/A Practice states: “The SPLM/A still recruits into the army … children under the age of 15 years, which is against the Convention on the Rights of the Child.” 
Report on SPLM/A Practice, 1998, Chapter 5.3.