The Use of Children as Soldiers in the Middle East and North Africa Region


A Country Analysis of Child Recruitment and Participation in Armed Conflict
August 2001

Research report prepared in conjunction with the Amman Conference on the Use of Children as Soldiers,
8 -10 April 2001

This research report was prepared for the Amman Conference on the Use of Children as Soldiers, to be held in Amman, Jordan from 8-10 April 2001. It is the fifth in a series of regional reports covering Africa, Latin America, Europe, Asia and the Pacific published over the past two years. This research, together with the current Middle East and North Africa report, was updated and consolidated into a first-ever Global Report on Child Soldiers, published in June 2001.

The report was prepared by Ibrahim Al-Marashi, with inputs from Alan Parra on Sudan, independent research consultants to the Coalition. The Coalition gratefully acknowledges previous research on North Africa by earlier consultants, Joel Mermet and Valerie Quere.

While information has been drawn from a wide variety of sources, the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers accepts full editorial responsibility for its contents. The Coalition would welcome any additional information, comments on and clarifications of the information contained in this report. 

Further information on the Coalition’s activities reports for other regions can be found at www.child-soldiers.org. 

NB. While this report contains information on Israel, Israel was not invited to participate in the Amman Conference on the Use of Children as Soldiers.


Contents

Glossary and Acronyms  
Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers  
Executive Summary  
Algeria
Bahrain 
Egypt  
Iran  
Iraq  
Israel  
Jordan  
Kuwait  
Lebanon  
Libya  
Mauritania  
Morocco  
Oman  
Palestinian Authority  
Qatar  
Saudi Arabia  
Sudan  
Syria  
Tunisia  
Turkey  
United Arab Emirates  
Yemen  
Amman Declaration  
Table of International Treaties Ratification  


GLOSSARY AND ACRONYMS

AI
Amnesty International

CAC
Children in Armed Conflict

CSC
Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers

CRC-OP-CAC
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 on 25 May 2000

DCI
Defence for Children International

GC
Geneva Conventions (12 August 1949)

GC-API
Protocol (I) Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and Relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts, adopted in June 1977

GC-APII
Protocol (II) Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and Relating to the Protection of Victims of Non-International Armed Conflicts, adopted in June 1977

HRW
Human Rights Watch

ICC 
Rome Statute of the] International Criminal Court

ICRC 
International Committee of the Red Cross 

IFRC
International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies

IFTDH
International Federation Terre Des Hommes

IISS
International Institute for Strategic Studies, London

ILO
International Labour Organisation

ILO 138
International Labour Organisation - Convention No. 138 Concerning Minimum Age for Admission to Employment, June 1973

ILO 182
International Labour Organisation - Convention No. 182 Concerning the Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour, June 1999

IRIN
Integrated Regional Information Network

ISCA
University of Oxford, Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology

JRS
Jesuit Refugee Service 

OCHA
United NationsOffice for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

QUNO
Quaker United Nations Office

RB
Rädda Barnen

SRSG/CAC 
Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict

Straight 18
Governments which support and implement a prohibition on all forms of military recruitment (voluntary and compulsory) and participation below the age of 18 years. This term came into usage during negotiations on the Optional Protocol and reflects the Coalition's own position

UNESCO
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation

UNHCHR
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

UNHCR
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

UNICEF
United Nations Children's Fund

WV
World Vision International 


COALITION TO STOP THE USE OF CHILD SOLDIERS
The Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers was formed in June 1998 to advocate for the adoption of, and adherence to, national, regional and international legal standards (including an Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child) prohibiting the military recruitment and use in hostilities of any person younger than eighteen years of age; and the recognition and enforcement of this standard by all armed forces and armed groups, both governmental and non-governmental.The Coalition was founded by six international NGOs – Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the International Save the Children Alliance, Jesuit Refugee Service, the Quaker United Nations Office - Geneva, and International Federation Terre des Hommes – and later joined by Defence for Children International, World Vision International, and regional NGOs from Latin America, Africa, Asia and the Pacific. The Coalition has also established partners and national coalitions which are engaged in advocacy, campaigns and public education in nearly 40 countries (see separate section on National Coalition Activities). The Coalition has established and maintained active links with UNICEF, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNHCHR and the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict.In just under three years the Coalition has generated considerable momentum towards its goal and is credited with having played an instrumental role in the adoption of the new Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflicts.Achievements of the Coalition include:ط Mobilising public pressure and political will to end the use of child soldiers and establish 18 as the minimum age for all forms of military recruitment and participation in armed conflict, both on the part of governments and armed groups;ط Organising 5 regional conferences which produced strong political declarations, increased media exposure, ongoing NGO networks and practical recommendations for action; each conference brought together governments, international agencies and NGO representatives and produced strong consensus declarations;i - African Conference in Maputo, Mozambique, April 1999, bringing together 250 participants including representatives of 25 governments from the region;ii - Latin American and Caribbean Conference in Montevideo, Uruguay, July 1999, bringing together 100 participants from 20 countries;iii - European Conference, Berlin, Germany, October 1999, bringing together 180 participants including representatives of 29 European governments;iv - Asia-Pacific Conference, Kathmandu, Nepal, May 2000, bringing together over 120 participants including representatives of 16 governments from the region;v - The Amman Conference on the Use of Children as Soldiers in the Middle East and North Africa region in Amman, Jordan in April 2001 bringing together over 110 participants, including representatives of 15 governments from the region. ط Prepared research reports on more than 180 countries covered in this report, detailing military recruitment laws, practice and (where appropriate) the use of child soldiers in conflict by both governments and non-state actors;ط Published advocacy documents, created a website and disseminated information to the media;ط Lobbied for the inclusion of child soldiers in the ILO Convention 182 on the worst forms of child labour;ط Lobbied successfully for intergovernmental and regional bodies such as the OAU, OAS, OSCE, European Union and G8 to take up this issue. xBeyond Standard Setting x One of the Coalition’s key goals is to achieve universal ratification of the new Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict -- with a clear majority of states setting a "straight-18" ban on ALL recruitment as well as participation of under-18s. In addition, the Coalition will be campaigning for ratification of ILO Convention 182, the ICC Statute and, where appropriate, the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child. The Coalition will also continue to promote this issue in regional bodies such as ASEAN, SAARC, OAU, OAS and OSCE.ط The Coalition is building a holistic and integrated program of action in the following three areas:ط Research and monitoring: having completed this first ever global survey of the use of child soldiers, the Coalition will build a global monitoring and reporting system that can keep research up to date and feed into UN bodies and ongoing campaigns; the Coalition will also undertake in-depth research on particular countries and themes; ط Campaigning and advocacy: a global campaign for ratification of the Optional Protocol and necessary legislative change; international campaigning actions focused on particular countries or non-state actors; ongoing advocacy within UN system, donor agencies and regional bodies;ط Programs and Capacity building: the development of an inter-agency network for documenting and disseminating experience and best practice; training and capacity building activities for NGOs in priority countries. PO Box 22696London N4 3ZJUnited KingdomTel: 44 20 7226 0606Fax: 44 20 7226 0208Email: info@child-soldiers.org


THE USE OF CHILD SOLDIERS IN THE MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY


Today more than 300,000 children under 18 are fighting as soldiers with government armed forces and armed opposition groups in more than 30 countries worldwide. Hundreds of thousands more have been recruited into government armed forces, paramilitaries, civil militia and a wide variety of non-state armed groups, even if not directly engaged in fighting. Millions more children worldwide receive military training and indoctrination in youth movements and schools.

The Middle East and North Africa region has not been exempt from this global problem. In the past two decades, particularly during the Iran-Iraq war and the Lebanese civil war, the region has witnessed some of the worst and most egregious cases of the exploitation of children as soldiers. In the early 1980s, hundreds of thousands of Iranian children were recruited, many straight from school, to popular militias for human wave attacks against Iraqi forces, often given a symbolic key to the paradise promised them as martyrs. Iraq also lowered its age for conscription and engaged in the widespread mobilisation of children during its war with Iran. In Lebanon, during the 1970s and 80s, large numbers of children actively participated in the civil war with various paramilitary groups. In more recent years, the now dissolved South Lebanese Army, a militia supported by Israel in South Lebanon, forcibly recruited young teenagers to its ranks.

Today, while the situation is vastly improved. Bahrain, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Tunisia and Turkey have all set at least 18 as the minimum age for voluntary recruitment. There are no indications of recruitment under 18 into government armed forces in Algeria and Egypt or the security forces of the Palestinian Authority.

But children under 18 continue to serve with government and opposition armed forces or to be subject to various forms of militarisation in their communities and schools in many countries of the region. The armed forces of Mauritania and Israel accept conscripts below the age of 18; the armed forces of Israel, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Libya and Mauritania and (possibly) the security forces of the Palestinian Authority accept volunteers below 18, while the minimum age in Algeria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Syria and the United Arab Emirates is not clear. Yemen officially accepts volunteers at 18, but is reported to recruit younger persons in practice. In Algeria, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel and the Occupied Territories, Lebanon, Turkey and Yemen there have been reports of children participating in armed opposition groups. 

The conflict in Sudan has long been recognised as one of the worst child soldier problems anywhere in the world. While laws of both the government and rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) set 18 as the minimum age for conscription, thousands of children as young as 12 have been forcibly recruited into the armed forces and Popular Defence Forces militia. The Sudanese People's Liberation Army and other government-aligned and opposition armed groups in the south have long used child soldiers and are estimated to have up to 9,000 children in their ranks.

In a region that places a high premium on the protection and development of children, and knows at first hand the long term scars participation in conflict leaves for children and their communities, the challenge now is to ensure such exploitation and abuse is prevented for future generations. 

The Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC), in Resolution 16/9-C on Child Care and Protection in the Islamic World of November 2000 has called for “the non-involvement of (refugee) children in any armed conflict and not to enlist them in the armed forces or for any other actions which may expose their personal safety and security to danger”, It called for “the convening, at the earliest possible date of the Ministerial Conference on the Child and Social Affairs, and commission(ed) the Secretary General to make the necessary consultations with the member states in this connection, particularly those which have outstanding expertise in this field.”

Together with the OIC, the UN Security Council, the UN General Assembly, the UN Commission on Human Rights, the Organisation for African Unity, the Organisation of American States and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe have all condemned this abuse of children.

On 25 May 2000, the United Nations General Assembly adopted by consensus the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict. 

The Convention on the Rights of the Child generally defines a child as any person under the age of 18 (Article 1). However, it set the lower age of 15 in relation to the military recruitment and participation of children in armed conflict, while calling on states recruiting under 18 to give priority to the eldest (Article 38). 

The new Optional Protocol helps to correct this anomaly by raising from 15 to 18 years the minimum age for direct participation in hostilities, for compulsory recruitment and for any recruitment by non-governmental armed groups. It also calls on states to raise the minimum age and implement strict safeguards for any voluntary military recruitment from the current minimum of 15 to at least 16 or above.

To date, more than 75 countries have signed the Optional Protocol; 3 have completed the process of ratification (Canada, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka) and more are expected to do so shortly. Jordan, Morocco and Turkey became the first countries in the Middle East and North Africa region to sign the Optional Protocol in September 2000.

The Optional Protocol builds upon a number of key developments at the international level towards a global ban on child soldiers: 

· The Rome Statute of a permanent International Criminal Court (ICC) defines conscripting or enlisting children under the age of fifteen years or using them to participate actively in hostilities as a war crime; this applies to both national armed forces and armed groups and to both international and non-international armed conflicts (Article 8);

· International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention 182 concerning the prohibition and immediate action for the elimination of the worst forms of child labour, which entered into force in November 2000, defines a “child” as a person under the age of 18 (Article 2) and includes “...forced or compulsory recruitment of children for use in armed conflict” among the worst forms of child labour (Article 3);

· the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, which entered into force in November 1999, prohibits the recruitment or direct participation in hostilities or internal strife of anyone under the age of 18 (Article 22);

· in October 1998, the UN Secretary-General established a new policy requiring civilian police and military observers on UN peacekeeping operations to be at least 25 years old, and troops in national contingents to be preferably 21 years but not less than 18.

None of the north African countries have to date ratified the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child. The following countries of the region have ratified ILO Convention 182: Algeria, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Morocco, Qatar, Tunisia and Yemen. The following countries of the region have signed the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court: Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Sudan, Syria, United Arab Emirates and Yemen. 

One of the features of military forces in the Middle East and North Africa region is a continued reliance on compulsory military service [or conscription]. With the exception of Bahrain, Jordan, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (and the security forces in the Palestinian Authority), all countries of the region have some system of compulsory recruitment. The minimum age for compulsory recruitment is 20 in Tunisia and Turkey and 19 in Algeria and Syria. Most other states have set 18 as the minimum age for compulsory recruitment, but Mauritania accepts conscripts at age 17. Some countries, such as Iraq, have lowered the conscription age during times of war. Others accept conscripts under the age of 18 in practice. In Israel, for instance, some minors are granted early admission to compulsory military service from the age of 17 and six months (although the authorities have indicated this policy will change). In Yemen, the economic benefits of military service (however meagre) attract underage recruits in a situation of poverty and unemployment. Experience from other regions shows that compulsory recruitment procedures often allow, and in some cases deliberately target, underage recruits.

In recent years, some countries have begun to make the shift from conscript to professional volunteer armies. Jordan suspended conscription in 1992; the majority of Morocco’s armed forces are now volunteers. With changing economic and social conditions, some countries are finding it harder to attract voluntary recruits or ensure that young people complete their military service. In Israel, for instance, an estimated 25 per cent of conscripts are reportedly discharged before completion of their military service on physical and psychological grounds. Draft evasion is common in Kuwait: plans to double the size of the Kuwait armed forces after the Gulf War have failed in the face of recruitment problems. The Saudi armed forces are reported to suffer from a 30-50 per cent personnel shortage.

These factors often lead to a downward pressure on the minimum age for military recruitment as armed forces struggle to maintain personnel levels. In the Middle East region, they have also seen a reliance on military personnel contracted from outside the region. Up to 70 per cent of Qatar’s armed forces are contracted from Pakistan, Somalia and other Arab states; in the United Arab Emirates 30 per cent and in Oman up to 10 per cent of the armed forces are foreign, mainly from Pakistan with some British officers. While the age of these military personnel is not known, the armed forces in Pakistan and the United Kingdom recruit from age 16.

There is also a substantial presence in the region of military forces from outside the region, deployed under various alliance and defence cooperation arrangements. Both the United States and the United Kingdom recruit under-18s into their armed forces and deploy them operationally. Both used 17 year olds in combat units during the Gulf War; two British soldiers under the age of 18 were killed during operations at that time and many others who returned are reportedly suffering from "Gulf War" syndrome.

Also common in the region is the mobilisation and militarisation of children through various militia and youth movements. In Iraq, tens of thousands of children from 10 to 15 years of age receive military training -- including in the use of weapons, hand-to-hand fighting, rappelling from helicopters and infantry tactics -- through the Ashbal Saddam or Saddam Lion Cubs and other school based programs. In Iran, the revolutionary militia basij has traditionally relied heavily on children from the age of sixteen to fill its ranks. In the Palestinian Authority, it is reported that approximately 50,000 children were given some military-style training in camps organised during summer 2000 by the Political Guidance and Training Unit, a government body. 

As seen in many countries of the world, children are enrolled in special military schools throughout the region. To attract Saudi youth into joining the Armed Forces, the Ministry of Defense and Aviation has established its own high schools and colleges, which offer subsidized education. Israel admits children from the ninth grade (approximately 15) to military schools for preparation in specialist and technical skills. In many countries, children are given military drill and indoctrination in regular school programs and military life features prominently in the general curricula. 

Armed opposition groups throughout the region have a long history of recruiting and using children. In Algeria, the Armee Islamique du Salut and Groupe Islamique Arme’ have both been reported to recruit children below 15. In Egypt, a teenage boy was among 39 males tried in November 1997 for membership of the underground Islamist group, al-Gama’a al-Islamiya. While information is difficult to confirm, various Kurdish armed groups in northern Iraq, Iran and Turkey have used child soldiers as young as ten. Children have been used as soldiers or guards by Islamist groups, tribal militia and Qat farmers in Yemen.

Some armed groups are known to have recruited children from outside the region. During the summer of 1998, Rädda Barnen (Save the Children – Sweden) learnt of PKK recruitment drives in Swedish schools. Seventeen minors were invited to attend a PKK ‘summer camp’ in July in northern Sweden before being recruited to serve the PKK in south-east Turkey. By mid-August 1998, only three of them had returned. Many families have reported their children missing to the police. The Middle East and North African region has also been an important source of recruits for armed conflicts in Kosovo, Chechnya, Afghanistan, Kashmir and elsewhere – although there are no confirmed reports, there is a risk that this could include children under 18. 

Some armed groups in the region have shown a willingness to commit themselves to international standards prohibiting the use of children as soldiers. In November 2000, leaders of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) fighting in the south of Sudan affirmed to UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy earlier pledges not to recruit children. In March 2001, UNICEF assisted in the demobilisation of more than 3,200 children from SPLA control in an airlift operation subsequently criticised by the Sudan Government. Similar demobilisation efforts with the breakaway South Sudan Independence Movement/Army (recognised after a peace agreement with the government as the South Sudan Defence Forces or SSDF) have been set back by renewed fighting and, in some cases, the re-mobilisation of children as soldiers. 

Over past decades there has also been extensive political and material support from countries in the region to governments and armed groups that have exploited children as soldiers. The Sudan Government has provided support and protection to the Lord’s Resistance Army which has been responsible for the abduction and brutal treatment of more than ten thousand children from northern Uganda (although the authorities now maintain they have ended their support). Israel trained and supported the South Lebanese Army which was responsible for widespread forced recruitment of children; Syria and Iran backed various warring factions using child fighters during the Lebanese civil war. Private Wahabist institutions and networks have provided significant financial support to militant Sunni movements, including armed groups in Chechnya, Kashmir, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Afghanistan. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are among only three states worldwide to recognise the Taliban movement as the government of Afghanistan; Iran and other neighbouring countries have supported the anti-Taleban Northern Alliance forces. More positively, the Libyan Government has leant support to peace efforts in the secessionist conflict between the Philippines Government and the Moro National Liberation Front and Moro Islamic Liberation Front and Abu Sayaf group in Mindinao, all of which have included child fighters.

In conclusion, the continued exploitation of children as soldiers in some parts of the region is a reminder of the urgent need to prevent any return to the high levels of child soldiering seen in the region's recent past. The Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers joins with the OIC in condemning the use of children as soldiers and urging states “to collaborate among themselves and to act collectively and individually in order to play a leading role in the international arena and thus serve as a model for what can be achieved for the benefit of children.” 


ALGERIA

THE PEOPLE’S DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF ALGERIA

POPULATION: 30,774,000 total, 13,530,000 under-18s
GOVERNMENT ARMED FORCES: 124,000 active, 150,000 reserves, 181,200 paramilitary[1] 
COMPULSORY RECRUITMENT AGE: 19 
VOLUNTARY RECRUITMENT AGE: unknown
VOTING AGE (GOVERNMENT ELECTIONS): 18
CHILD SOLDIERS: indicated in paramilitary and armed opposition groups 
CRC-OP-CAC: not signed
OTHER TREATIES RATIFIED: CRC; GC/API+II; ICC; ILO 138 + 182; ICC

There are no indications of under-18s in the government armed forces, but there have been reports of child participation in paramilitary ‘Legitimate Defence’ groups. Armed opposition groups are widely reported to have children in their ranks.


CONTEXT 

Following rioting in October 1988, Algeria's one-party State initiated a democratisation programme and adopted a new constitution in 1989. The Islamic Salvation Front (Front Islamique du Salut or FIS) won ensuing elections in 1990 and 1991 but was banned by the government. Algeria was subsequently engulfed in civil conflict.[2]

Following a secret agreement negotiated with the army in 1997, the AIS (the Islamic Salvation Army, the armed wing of one branch of the FIS) declared a unilateral cease-fire in October 1997. The LIDD (Ligue Islamique pour le Dawa et le Djihad – Islamic League for Preaching and Combat) joined the cease-fire shortly after. A law on Civil Harmony (Concorde Civile – Law No 99-08) was passed in July 1999 exempting from prosecution or limiting penalties under certain conditions for members of armed groups who surrendered within six months. In addition, members of the AIS and LIDD armed groups were granted a Presidential amnesty exempting them from prosecution without exclusion in January 2000 (Presidential Decree No 2000-03). Other armed opposition groups have continued fighting, however.[3]


GOVERNMENT 

National Recruitment Legislation and Practice

The minimum age for compulsory recruitment is 19 according to Article 1 of Edict 74-103 of 15 November 1974.[4] Military service is compulsory for all men; women may join the air force on a voluntary basis. Military service currently lasts 18 months, divided into six months of military training and 12 months of active service.[5] After completing service soldiers must remain available to the Ministry of Defence for five years and may be recalled at any time. Thereafter, they form part of the reserve forces for a further 20 years.[6] 

Conscripts can postpone service until they are 27 years old in order to complete studies.[7] Exemptions are possible in peacetime under certain circumstances — for medical or psychological reasons, when a brother is already serving, and for sole family breadwinners as well as the sons of heroes and martyrs from the war of independence.[8] 

At the end of 1999, the Ministry of Defence announced that those over 27 years of age who had not performed military service, including those who had deferred or evaded the draft, would be eligible for exemption. Applications were to be considered on a case-by-case basis, although it was not clear exactly which categories of applicants would benefit from the scheme.[9]

Child Recruitment by Government-allied Paramilitary Groups

Executive Decree 97-04 of January 1997 officially established (two years after their actual creation) 'Legitimate Defence Groups' (Groupes de défense légitime)[10] and determined the conditions under which they are operate. Constitution of these groups is subject to authorisation of the public authorities and a joint order of the ministries of Defence and Interior. Leaders of these groups are sometimes, but not always, law-enforcement officers. According to the law, members do not receive any remuneration, but in practice, leaders and members of some Legitimate Defence Groups have received salaries (and have publicly complained when payments have not been made).[11] The Legitimate Defence Groups are supplied with arms by the government (Article 8, decree 97-04) and are required to wear distinctive uniforms. Many reports suggest that the formation of these groups has led to a 'privatisation' of the war and that the government is unable to control their actions.[12] It has been reported that in many parts of the country the Legitimate Defence Groups have recruited young people into their ranks.[13] According to government officials, enlistment is on a voluntary basis; while no age criteria are explicitly mentioned in the Decree, the same recruitment rules are applied as for other security forces; further, the minimum age for carrying firearms in Algeria is 19 years.[14] 

In addition, 'communal guards' were created under Executive Decrees 96-265 and 96-266 of August 1996 to defend public order. According to Chapter 1, Section1, Article 21 of Decree 96-266: "Communal guards are recruited amongst candidates of at least 19 years of age who have gained the best marks in tests."[15] 

OPPOSITION

There are three main opposition groups in Algeria: the Islamic Salvation Army (AIS), the armed wing of the FIS which ceased fighting in October 1997 and formally dissolved in January 2000; the Armed Islamic Group (GIA or Groupes Islamiques Armés) a collection of armed groups whose leadership and composition remain unclear; and the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC).

Child Recruitment and Deployment

It has been reported that children and youth have actively participated in the different armed opposition groups.[16] The Psychological Institute in Algiers has claimed that young people fighting for the Islamist groups are not driven by religious motives but rather by frustration at broader economic and social problems.[17] 

The Islamic Salvation Army (AIS): 4,000[18] 

The Court of Algiers ordered the dissolution of the FIS in March 1992. Armed Islamist groups began to form in the following months, notably the MIA (Mouvement Islamique Armé), whose members later joined the AIS or GIAs. The AIS was created in 1994 to serve as the armed wing of the Front Islamique du Salut[19] and operated in the east and west of Algeria, focusing its attacks mainly against military and security force personnel.[20] 

A journalist who secretly visited an AIS camp in 1997 reported the presence of boys, some as young as 15, among the movement's soldiers. One of the boys claimed to have killed seven men during the election week: "Two boys described themselves as assassins. Armed with sawn-off shotguns, they stalk security men in public places, firing at point-blank range and disappearing into the crowd."[21] 

The Armed Islamic Group (Groupe Islamique Armés — GIA): 1,500[22] 

The GIA began its violent campaign in 1993. It is alleged to have been responsible for civilian massacres, hijacking an Air France flight in 1994 and bombings in France. Algerian expatriates, many of whom reside in Europe, provide some financial support to the group.

A witness living in a small district of Mitidja, a GIA-controlled area, said: "It was incredible — kids with a Kalashnikov on their shoulder in every street. They check the papers of people going by and watch who's coming in and who's leaving the town. You see them, backs to the wall, with a pistol in their hands, chatting. They're maybe not even 18 years old. People don't go out to walk about any more."[23] 

Another source has claimed that the GIA uses young boys, mainly in their early teens, to plant bombs and carry out surprise attacks.[24]A young woman from one of the Algerian villages where massacres had taken place said that all of the killers were boys under 17. Some boys who seemed to be around the age of 12 decapitated a 15-year-old girl and then played 'catch' with her head.[25] 

The Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat: less than 500[26] 

Unlike other armed groups in western Algeria, the Salafists are said to confine their attacks to military targets. Nothing is known about child involvement in the activities of this group.


[1] IISS estimates strength of Legitimate Defence Groups at 100,000; according to Bruno Etienne (Le Figaro) their size is as high as 180,000, 31/8/97.
[2] Balencie J. M. and de La Grange, A., Mondes Rebelles, Guerres Civiles et Violences Politiques, Editions Michalon, Paris 1999.
[3] Information provided by Amnesty International; see also "Sour Cherry", The Economist, 15/2/01
[4] Ordonnance 74-103 of 15/12/74, Journal Officiel de la République Algérienne; Brett, Rachel and McCallin, Margaret, Children: The Invisible Soldiers, RB, Stockholm 1998, Appendix A.Démocratique et Populaire, 10/12/74.
[5] Article 1 of Law No. 89-19 of 12/12/89.
[6] Horeman B. and Stolwijk, M. Refusing to Bear Arms: A World Survey of Conscription and Conscientious Objection to Military Service, War Resisters International, London, 1998; AI(Switzerland), Die Militärgesetzgebung, 8/98.
[7] Article 98 of the National Service Act.
[8] Articles 90 to 104 of the National Service Act. 
[9] Information provided to CSC by Amnesty International
[10] 97-04 "fixant les conditions d'exercice de l'action de légitime défense dans un cadre organise".
[11] Information provided to CSC by Amnesty International
[12] Martinez, L., La guerre civile en Algérie, L'Harmattan, Paris, 1998.
[13] Ibid.
[14] Communication to CSC from Embassy of Algeria, London, 9/05/01
[15] Ibid
[16] Peter Strandberg, freelance journalist, cited by RB, http://www.rb.se
[17] Horeman and Stolwijk op cit.
[18] see FIS Section, Federation of American Scientists, http://www.fas.org/irp/world/para/fis.htm
[19] FIS website: http://www.members.aol.com/alfFis/ribat/a.htm
[20] Federation of American Scientists – FIS op cit.
[21] Dennis M., Newsweek, 30/6/97
[22] IISS
[23] Martinez op. cit.
[24] Information received from reliable source that requests confidentiality.
[25] "Les orphelins d'Algérie", Temps présent, Swiss Television, 29/1/98, unofficial translation.
[26] Ibid


BAHRAIN

THE STATE OF BAHRAIN

POPULATION: 606,000 total, 214,000 under-18s
GOVERNMENT ARMED FORCES: 11,000 active, 10,150 paramilitary
COMPULSORY RECRUITMENT AGE: no conscription
VOLUNTARY RECRUITMENT AGE: 18
VOTING AGE (GOVERNMENT ELECTIONS): unknown
CHILD SOLDIERS: none indicated
CRC-OP-CAC: not signed
OTHER TREATIES RATIFIED: CRC; GC/API+II; ICC

There are no indications of under-18s in government armed forces.


GOVERNMENT 

National Recruitment Legislation and Practice

The Constitution of Bahrain states in article 30, "Military service is an honour for the citizens and regulated by law."[1] Conscription has never existed in Bahrain since its independence in 1971, nor is it likely to be introduced in the future. The minimum age for voluntary recruitment into the Bahrain Armed Forces is 18."[2] 


[1] Bahrain’s Constitution, www.uni-wuerzburg.de/law/ba
[2] UN Commission on Human Rights 1992, Report of the Secretary-General prepared pursuant to Commission resolution 1991/65, United Nations, Geneva.

EGYPT

THE ARAB REPUBLIC OF EGYPT

POPULATION: 67,226,000 total, 28,745,000 under-18s
GOVERNMENT ARMED FORCES: 448,500 active, 254,000 reserves, 230,000 active paramilitary
COMPULSORY RECRUITMENT AGE: 18 
VOLUNTARY RECRUITMENT AGE: unknown
VOTING AGE (GOVERNMENT ELECTIONS): 18
CHILD SOLDIERS: unknown in government armed forces; indicated in armed opposition groups 
CRC-OP-CAC: not signed
OTHER TREATIES RATIFIED: CRC; GC/API+II; ILO 138 

There are some indications of teenage involvement in armed opposition groups. There are not likely to be under-18s in government armed forces due to a surplus of candidates for military service.


CONTEXT 

The government faces Islamist opposition movements, which are known to target politicians, police and army officials, tourists and intellectuals. It responded to these threats in 1992-93 with widespread arrests and scores of executions. This led to a shift in strategy by opposition groups, including carrying out attacks abroad. In recent years, attacks against tourists in Egypt have again intensified. Authorities have responded by arresting, and in some cases executing, leaders of Islamist groups.


GOVERNMENT 

National Recruitment Legislation and Practice

According to article 58 of the 1980 Constitution, "Defence of the homeland and its territory is a sacred duty and conscription is compulsory, in accordance with the law." The minimum age for conscription is 18.[1] The 1980 Military and National Service Act No. 127 regulates military service. Under this law all men between 18 and 30 years of age are liable for military service, which lasts for 3 years. Graduates serve for a period of 18 months.[2] After completing military service, conscripts belong to the reserves for seven years.[3] There is no available information on voluntary recruitment under 18. Egypt reportedly has surplus candidates for military service. 

Military Training and Military Schools

There are six main military training centres, including the Military Academy, Heliopolis, Cairo; the Air Defence College; the Egyptian Naval College, Alexandria; the Military Technical College, Cairo; the Egyptian Air Academy, Belbais; and the Armed Forces Technical Institute.[4] Entry requirements vary and some state that the applicant must have completed high school or have an undergraduate university degree. Many specify a maximum age limit of between 21 and 24 but no information is available on minimum age requirements.


OPPOSITION 

Al-Gama’a Al-Islamiyya[5]

This Islamist group has been active since the late 1970s with the aim of establishing an Islamic state. It mainly operates in southern Egypt with support from urban locations, particularly among unemployed graduates and students. The group has conducted attacks against tourists, governmental forces and Coptic Christians. The group has halted armed operations since 1997.[6] A "teenage boy" was among 39 males brought to trial for membership of the al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya in November 1997.[7] 

Al-Jihad al-Islami

This armed group first emerged in 1977 to establish an Islamic state through attacks targeting high-level Egyptian government officials.[8] Since the mid-1990s al-Jihad has not claimed responsibility for any attacks. There is no evidence of child involvement in this group.


DEVELOPMENTS 

International Standards

In May 2001, the Egyptian Parliament approved unanimously most provisions of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, subject to Islamic law and Egyptian customs and traditions.[9]


[1] Goodwin-Gill, G. and Cohn, I., Child Soldiers, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1994. cit.; Brett and McCallin op. cit.
[2] Horeman and Stolwijk op. cit.; and The Question of Conscientious Objection to Military Service, Report of the Secretary-General pursuant to Commission resolution 1995/83, UN Doc. E/CN.4/1997/99.
[3] Civil and political rights, including the question of: conscientious objection to military service, Report of the Secretary-General submitted pursuant to Commission resolution 1998/77. E/CN.4/2000/55, 17/12/99; IISS, The Military Balance 1998.
[4] http://mmc.gov.eg/collages/institute/new.htm.
[5] Balencie and de La Grange, op. cit.
[6] AI Report 2000 and previous, www.web.amnesty.org/web/ar2000; For general background see also AI, Egypt: Human Rights Abuses by Armed Groups (MDE 12/22/98); 9/98.
[7] Brett and McCallin, op. cit.
[8] The Longman Group, Revolutionary and Dissident Movements of The World, An International Guide, Third Edition, Essex, Longman Group, 1991, p.70-71
[9] Reuters, "Egypt approves child rights charter, rejects some clauses", 6 May 2001.

IRAN

THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN

POPULATION: 66,796,000 total, 30,092,000 under-18s
GOVERNMENT ARMED FORCES: 513,000 active, 350,000 reserves (including the Pasdaran)
PARAMILITARY: 40,000 (plus 200,000 Basij reserves)
COMPULSORY RECRUITMENT AGE: 18 (no age limit for paramilitary)
VOLUNTARY RECRUITMENT AGE: 16 (no age limit for paramilitary)
VOTING AGE (GOVERNMENT ELECTIONS): 15
CHILD SOLDIERS: indicated in government and opposition forces 
CRC-OP-CAC: not signed
OTHER TREATIES RATIFIED: CRC; GC/API+II

There are indications of under-18s in government armed forces as the voluntary recruitment age is sixteen. There is also reportedly extensive child involvement in paramilitary organisations. Child soldiers, some as young as nine, were used extensively during the Iran-Iraq war. Some opposition groups are said to recruit children, including from expatriate communities living in Europe.


CONTEXT 

The Islamic Republic of Iran was established in 1979 after the fall of Shah Muhammad Pahlavi. An eight-year war with Iraq began in September 1980, fought initially on Iranian soil and then taken into Iraqi territory. During this period, Kurdish insurgents seeking an autonomous state intensified activities in north-western Iran. The Kurdish revolt has since dissipated but the Iranian Mojahedin, a heavily armed guerrilla group based in Iraq, still launches armed incursions into Iran.


GOVERNMENT 

National Recruitment Legislation 

Regular armed forces

Article 3, section 11 of the Constitution stipulates "All round strengthening of the foundations of national defence to the utmost degree by means of universal military training …" as a state goal. Article 144 states, "The Army of the Islamic Republic of Iran must be an Islamic Army, i.e. committed to Islamic ideology and the people, and must recruit into its service, individuals who have faith in the objectives of the Islamic Revolution and are devoted to the cause of realising its goals." Article 151 states "the government is obliged to provide a programme of military training, with all requisite facilities for all its citizens, in accordance with the Islamic criteria, in such a way that all citizens will be able to engage in the armed defence of the Islamic Republic of Iran."[1]

The legal basis of conscription is the 1984 Military Service Act. Originally, according to article 2 of the Act, 19 was the age of conscription; all males who turned 19 by March of each year were eligible for military service in the same year. In the later phases of the Iran-Iraq war the age for conscription was lowered to 18. Currently all men between 18 and 50 are liable for military service, and between 18 and 60 in times of emergency.[2] 

Military service is performed in both the Iranian Armed Forces and the Revolutionary Guards. Military service used to last for 2 years, but was reduced to 18 months after the Iran-Iraq war. Students may postpone military service in order complete their studies. Exemptions are available to those whose brothers or fathers were killed in the Iran-Iraq War. Girls are exempt from military service altogether.[3] 

The minimum age for voluntary recruitment appears to be 16. According to Iran’s initial report to the Committee on the Rights of Child, "The minimum employment age for the armed forces for the purpose of receiving military training is 16 and the minimum age of employment for the Police Forces is 17."[4]

Government-allied Paramilitary Groups

After the Iranian Revolution, Ayatollah Khomeini created a standing fighting force, known as the Pasdaran, or Revolutionary Guards, to check the power of counter-revolutionary elements within the Imperial Army.[5] The Constitution entrusted the defence of Iran's territorial integrity to the military, while the Pasdaran was responsible for preserving the revolution itself. In November 1979 Ayatollah Khomeini also created the Basij, a voluntary, auxiliary military unit of the Revolutionary Guards. It is a popular, emergency, mobilisation army, consisting mostly of those too young (under 18) or too old (usually age 45 and older) for regular conscription. The Basij are under the authority of the Ministry of the Pasdaran.[6] 

There are no defined age limits for joining paramilitary organizations such as the Basij.[7] During the Iran-Iraq War, the Basij included approximately one million volunteers, and it was through this force that many children came to participate in armed combat. Today, it still plays the role of a "moral police force" in Iran, relying heavily on youths to fill its ranks.[8] According to a Rädda Barnen report, it is still possible for 16-year-olds to volunteer to serve with the Basij.[9] 

Ansar-e Hezbollah is a movement of vigilantes which seeks to enforce Islamic standards in Iranian society and consists mostly of young people.[10] It has no minimum age limit for membership.[11] The Basij and the Ansar-e Hezbollah militia fought student protesters in Tehran in July 1999.[12]

Past Child Recruitment and Deployment 

The Iranian government has denied the use of child soldiers under 16 during the war, saying: "Iran categorically rejects suggestions that the use of children in its armed forces is an established practice or one that is encouraged by it. Military conscription in Iran officially starts at 18. The Iranian government proudly extols the virtues of young volunteer martyrs in the battlefield, but all are said to be at least 16, when an Iranian comes of age." However, a report submitted to a session of the UN Human Rights Commission paraphrased comments by an Iranian government representative who in a closed-door sub-commission hearing admitted that children did participate in the war against Iraq: "Their heroism and enthusiasm were based on the notion of martyrdom, which materialists were unable to understand. Every Muslim had a religious duty to defend human honour and dignity against aggression ... The children were helping their parents to fight to liberate their soil, to defend the values in which they believed and to protect the revolution." Two weeks later, the Iranian mission to the UN in Geneva sent a letter to the UN Centre for Human Rights stating that it "categorically rejects the suggestion that the use of children in the (Iranian) armed forces is an established practice or one that is encouraged by the government."[13]

Government-allied groups were known to recruit children during the Iran-Iraq war. The Hezbollahi organization for example made announcements in various newspapers inviting registration with the sole entry requirement being a ''belief in God'' and sympathy for the Hezbollahi. Age was ''unimportant'': according to the advertisement, students could range from 14 to 90 years of age.[14] The leadership of Iran also urged youths to take an active part in fighting.[15] In a series of rulings issued in the autumn of 1982, Ayatollah Khomeini declared that parental permission was unnecessary for those going to the front, that volunteering for military duty was a religious obligation, and that serving in the armed forces took priority over all other forms of work or study. Various sources reported that children were indoctrinated into participating in combat.[16] They were given "keys to paradise" and promised that they would go directly to heaven if they died as martyrs against the Iraqi enemy.[17] 

No estimates are available on the number of children who participated in the Iran-Iraq war, but Hojjatoleslam Hashemi Rafsanjani, later president, stated in 1982 that Iran's armed forces had been supplemented by 400,000 volunteers. An exiled source claims that since military service was compulsory from the age of 18, most of these "volunteers" were likely to be younger.[18] Gulf war statistics about prisoners, casualties and their ages are unreliable, but according to the International Committee of the Red Cross at least 10 per cent of Iranian prisoners were under 18.[19] Iranian officers captured by the Iraqis claimed that nine out of ten Iranian child soldiers were killed.

According to one journalist, most recruits had between one and three months of military training before being sent to the front, but some had no training at all.[20] Boys as young as nine were reportedly used in human wave attacks and to serve as mine sweepers in the war with Iraq.[21] Many child soldiers were captured by the Iraqis and transferred to a special Prisoner of War camp for children.[22] Some 300, most believed to be 15 or younger were held by Iraq in a special, separated compound at Al-Ramadi, about 60 miles west of Baghdad, where they were exploited by the Iraqi authorities for propaganda purposes.[23]

Martyrs' families enjoyed some social prestige and reportedly received monetary compensation per child, plus a martyr's card entitling the family to food and other privileges. Child soldiers were nearly all from poor villages or slum families.[24] All families of martyrs and those handicapped by the war received a stipend for their loss from the Bunyad-e Shaheed (Martyrs’ Foundation).[25] 


OPPOSITION 

Child Recruitment and Deployment 

The Mojahedin Khalq Organization (MEK or MKO) also known as the People's Mojahedin of Iran (PMOI) - 15,000 fighters[26]

This group includes the National Liberation Army (NLA) of Iran as an armed wing and the Muslim Iranian Student's Society as a front organisation. It is the largest and most active Iranian opposition group outside the country. The MKO was founded in 1965, advocating an anti-Western platform which combines Marxism and Islam. It is now based in Iraq.[27] The MKO has launched an international campaign against the Iranian Government through propaganda, street demonstrations and violence. Women play a prominent role in the organisation.

There are reports that children under 18 have been recruited from Sweden to MKO camps.[28] In 2000, following a visit by President Khatami, the German Government closed hostels that were reportedly used by the MKO to raise money and train cadres. There have also been regular but unconfirmed reports of the MKO trafficking children from camps in Iraq to Europe and North America.

The Kurdish Democratic Party of Iran (KDPI) – 1,200-1,800 fighters[29]

The KDPI currently operates from bases in Iraq and is reportedly the largest of the Iranian Kurdish opposition groups.[30] The KDPI seeks Kurdish autonomy within the Islamic Republic. In the 1990s armed clashes continued between the KDPI and government forces, including attacks against Iranian Kurds, both in western Iran and inside Iraqi territory. It is not known whether the KDPI uses children as soldiers.

Komaleh: approx 200 fighters[31]

In 1979, Komaleh began to wage a guerrilla war against the Islamic Republic with the aim of achieving Kurdish autonomy, but later came in conflict with the KDPI. The group is currently based in Iraq.[32] It is not known whether Komaleh uses children as soldiers.


[1] Brett and McCallin op. cit.
[2] Ibid.
[3] UN Convention on the Rights of Child Initial Reports of States parties due in 1996: Iran (Islamic Republic of) 23/07/98. CRC/C/41/add.5
[4] Ibid. Iranian law regarding the age of majority – 15 lunar years for boys and 9 for girls – differs considerably from international standards and was criticised by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC/C/15/Add.123)
[5] Helen Chapin Metz, Country Study Federal Research Division: Library of Congress 1987.
[6] Copley, Gregory R. Defense and Foreign Affairs Handbook, Alexandria, Virginia, The International Strategic Studies Association, 1999, p.697.
[7] Goodwin Gill and Cohn op. cit. p. 196. There is no minimum age limit for Ansar-e Hezbollah according to the US Department of State Report 2000, www.state.gov/www/global/human_right/1999_hrp_report/iran.html
[8] Ibid.
[9] See RB, Childwar database, http://www.rb.se
[10] Horeman and Stolwijk, op. cit.
[11] US Dept. of State Human Rights Report 2000
[12] AI Report 2000
[13] Cassway, p.71
[14] "Gulf war; The child soldiers of the ayatollahs" Economist, 17/9/83
[15] Teheran Times, "Youth future of the Islamic Republic-Khamenei," 23/2/82, p.1
[16] "Unabated Gross Violations of Children’s Rights in Iran", International Children Rights Monitor, Spring 1983, p.16 and "Iran Chronology of Childhood Lost," International Children Rights Monitor, Autumn 1983, p.5.
[17] New York Times Magazine, 12/2/84 p.21.
[18] Ibid.
[19] "Economist, 17/9/83, op. cit.
[20] Hanns Neuerbourg , "Young, Fearless and Denied by Iran", Associated Press, 12/3/84
[21] The Abuse of Human Rights in Iran, London: House of Commons, Parliamentary Human Rights Groups, 1986, p.41.
[22] Kate Dorian, "Another Iranian Attack Launched, Iraq Says Child Soldiers Captured", Assoc. Press, 2/5/82
[23] Neuerbourg, 12/3/84
[24] Economist, 17/9/83 op. cit.
[25] Cassway, p.71
[26] IISS op. cit. 
[27] Longman, p. 149
[28] http://www.rb.se:8082/www/childwar.nsf
[29] IISS, op. cit. p.140
[30] Federation of American Scientist, http://www.fas.org/irp/world/para/
[31] IISS, P.140.
[32] Longman, op. cit. p. 151.

IRAQ

REPUBLIC OF IRAQ

POPULATION: 22,450,000 total,10,853,000 under-18s
GOVERNMENT ARMED FORCES: 429,000 active, 650,000 reserves, 45,000-50,000 paramilitary
COMPULSORY RECRUITMENT AGE: 18; younger during war
VOLUNTARY RECRUITMENT AGE: 15 (unclear)
VOTING AGE (GOVERNMENT ELECTIONS): 18
CHILD SOLDIERS: indicated in government armed forces; some 3,000 in Kurdish opposition groups in 1998
CRC-OP-CAC: not signed
OTHER TREATIES RATIFIED: CRC; GC; ILO 138 

There are indications of under-18s in government armed forces. Reports suggest that children participated with Iraqi forces in the Gulf War and the Iran-Iraq war. The militarisation of children is currently widespread through military-style youth organizations. Kurdish groups are also known to use child soldiers, the youngest being only seven years old.


CONTEXT 

During the eight-year war between Iraq and Iran in the 1980's, the Kurdish Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan launched sustained insurgency in the north of Iraq. In more recent years, Kurdish parties have continued with intermittent insurgency against the Iraqi government, but intra-Kurdish infighting has been more prevalent. The intra-Kurdish conflict has been complicated by the Kurdish Workers’ Party, which has used northern Iraq to launch attacks against Turkey. 

In 1990, Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait led to the Gulf War, in which Iraqi forces were driven out of Kuwait by a multi-national force. The international community established a UN-sponsored weapons inspection regime, "no-fly zones" in northern and southern Iraq (backed by periodic bombardments by US-led forces in the region), and heavy reparations. A sanctions regime has also been implemented, with catastrophic effects on the Iraqi population, particularly children. 


National Recruitment Legislation 

Article 31 of the Constitution states "The defence of the homeland is a sacred duty and honour for the citizens; conscription is compulsory and regulated by the law."[1] The legal basis of conscription is the 1969 Military Service Act, together with several subsequent resolutions made by the Revolutionary Command Council (RCC). In times of peace, all men between 18 and 45 are liable for military service. In times of war, the RCC may determine who to conscript.[2] 

Military service is normally for two years, or 1.5 years in the case of university students and college graduates. During wartime, the RCC can extend the length of service indefinitely. Students can postpone military service until completing their studies, but not during times of war.[3]

According to some sources Iraq accepts voluntary recruits from the age of 15.[4] Admission to the officer academy for formal military training is possible from the age of 16. Since the course is only one year, some officers in the armed forces can be as young as 17.[5]

Military Training and Military Schools

Children have participated in repeated and wide-scale mobilisation and training schemes carried out by the Iraqi government since 1991. In 1998, a military-preparedness project was adopted to equip all those aged between 15 and 65 with the basics of self-defence and the use of small arms. Iraqis were reportedly required to conduct drill exercises and to assemble and dismantle machine-guns and rifles for two hours every day over a period of forty days.[6]

In recent years, the Iraqi government launched campaigns to introduce military training for school children between the ages of 12 and 17. The Iraqi authorities have arranged two sessions, "Raad" and "Al Anfal", for a total of 23,000 children. Children are reportedly taken to boot camps for three weeks and are trained in light arms and Ba’ath ideology.[7] Iraqi opposition sources and the US State Department have reported that students who fail to join military camps face various sanctions.[8]

According to the Iraqi magazine, Alef-Ba, thousands of boys as young as 10 have graduated from a military training programme educating them in the use of weaponry. Col. Reza Mezal Hamd commander of the Baghdad camp claimed that "Some families tried to get their less then 10-year-old boys in the training course, but we refused to do that because they are too young." The training was designed to prepare boys for unspecified emergencies.[9]

Special militarised organisations for youths also exist. Founded in 1975, Futuwah (Youth Vanguard) was a Ba’ath party initiative aimed at creating a paramilitary organisation for secondary-school students. Boys and girls between the ages of 14 and 18 could join and receive training in the use of light arms. By early 1988, several thousand Iraqi youth had volunteered. Drafting young students became unpopular, and the loss of young life later created labour force shortages.[10] The Futuwah units took part in fighting against Iran between 1983 and 1985. During the Gulf War in 1990-91 journalists noted that boys as young as 12 were part of the Iraqi military and photographed them training with Kalashnikov rifles.[11]

The Ashbal Saddam (Saddam Lion Cubs) youth movement was formed after the 1991 Gulf War. There are an estimated 8,000 child members of Saddam Cubs in Baghdad alone.[12] According to the US State Department, thousands of boys between the ages of 10 and 15 were recruited into a military training program called "Saddam's Youth". The programme operated from 14 camps in Iraq, and was designed to prepare boys for national emergencies.[13] Training courses reportedly include small-arms use, hand-to-hand combat, and infantry tactics for children from 10 to 15 years of age, for up to 14 hours per day.[14] 


OPPOSITION 

Child Recruitment and Deployment

There are several Kurdish and other armed opposition groups based in northern Iraq, Iran and Turkey which have been fighting their respective governments and amongst themselves for decades. While it is difficult to confirm reports, several of these movements have reportedly recruited children as soldiers. According to one source, children as young as 12 took part in the Kurdish liberation movement in Iraq, "while a substantial amount were in their mid teens."[15]

Kurdish Workers Party (PKK): 500 – 10,000 active[16] plus militia of 50,000

The PKK is based in Turkey and has training camps in Iraqi Kurdistan as well as in the mountainous region close to the Turkish and Iranian borders.[17] The PKK issued a military service law in 1990 by which every Kurdish youth aged 18 to 25 without exception was obliged to join the PKK army. Compulsory recruitment was later ended as due to sufficient voluntary recruitment. From 1994, it appears that the PKK began systematically and increasingly child recruitment, and children's regiments were even created. A children's battalion named Tabura Zaroken Sehit Agit, for instance, was composed of three divisions and was, in theory at least, run by a committee of five children aged between 8 and 12.[18]

Following the PKK attack on the Kurdish Democratic Party in 1995 the PKK reportedly lost as many as 1,000 guerrillas, many of whom were boys and girls according to KDP sources.[19] In 1997 a 14-year-old Syrian girl was one of several female guerrillas taken prisoner by the Turkish army during an offensive in Turkey's Cudi Mountains. She had joined the PKK the previous year and received political and military training at a PKK camp in northern Iraq.[20] In 1998, the PKK was reported to have 3,000 children in its ranks, more than 10 per cent of whom were girls. The youngest child reported among the PKK was 7 years old.[21]

Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK): 10,000 active, 22,000 reserve tribesmen[22]

The PUK was established in July 1975 and has intermittently been supported by Iran and Turkey. The PUK reportedly uses children as young as 10 as soldiers.[23] 

Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP): 15,000 active, 25,000 reserve tribesmen[24]

The KDP has been fighting against the Iraqi government since 1975. There is no information on the use of child soldiers by this group.

Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution In Iraq (SCIRI): 4,000 active[25]

SCIRI was formed in November 1982 as a coalition of Shi'a Islamist parties opposed to the Iraqi Ba'ath party with the aim of toppling the government of Saddam Hussein.[26] There is no evidence that SCIRI uses children as soldiers.


[1] Iraq’s constitution. www.uni-wuezburg.de/law
[2] Horeman and Stolwijk op. cit.
[3] Report of the Secretary General, UN Doc. E/CN.4/1997/99 op. cit.
[4] www.globalmarch.org
[5] Horeman and Stolwijk op. cit.
[6] Richard Downes "Iraqi Army Starts Mass Training", BBC, 28/10/98
[7] Referring to the 1968 revolution which brought Saddam Hussein’s wing of the Ba’th party to power.
[8] US State Dept. Human Rights Report 2000
[9] RB Childwar database, citing AP, 13/8/97
[10] Ibid.
[11] Ibid. p 219.
[12] US State Department op. cit.
[13] "10-year- olds given military training", Children in Arms, 3/1997, RB
[14] US State Department op. cit.
[15] Victoria Sherrow, Encyclopaedia of Youth and War: Young People as participants and Victims Phoenix, Arizona: Oryx Press, 2000 p.159.
[16] IISS, p.142, Waxman, D..
[17] Martin van Bruinessen, " Turkey, Europe and the Kurds after the Capture of Abdullah", Utrecht, 4/99.
[18] Ismet, I. G.,.
[19] RB, Children of War, No. 2, Stockholm, 1996.
[20] Couturier, C., "Kurdish rebels send teenagers to war: Turkish soldiers say they are gaining the initiative in the war on the south", Financial Times, 28/6/97.
[21] RB, Children of War, No. 3, Stockholm, 1998.
[22] IISS, p.141
[23] Radio News Report, Swedish Radio, Morgonekot, 16/9/96.
[24] IISS, p.141
[25] IISS, p.142. SCIRI is also known as SAIRI, the Supreme Assembly for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq.
[26] Federation of American Scientists op. cit.


ISRAEL


THE STATE OF ISRAEL

POPULATION: 6,101,000 total, 2,031,000 under-18s
GOVERNMENT ARMED FORCES: 172,500 active, 425,000 reserves, 8,050 paramilitary
COMPULSORY RECRUITMENT AGE: 17 
VOLUNTARY RECRUITMENT AGE: 17
VOTING AGE (GOVERNMENT ELECTIONS): 18
CHILD SOLDIERS: indicated in government armed forces 
CRC-OP-CAC: not signed
OTHER TREATIES RATIFIED: CRC; GC; ILO 138 

There are indications of under-18s in government armed forces as recruitment is possible under 18. The government is considering changes that would end the "early admission" of conscripts and the deployment of under-18s.


CONTEXT 

Israel has militarily occupied East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and Golan Heights since 1967. Israel agreed to transfer most administrative responsibilities for civil government in the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank to the Palestinian Authority (PA) under the May 1994 Gaza-Jericho agreement and the September 1995 Interim Agreement. Israel withdrew from its occupation of a ‘security zone’ in southern Lebanon in 2000. Renewed conflict began in September 2000 with clashes between various Palestinian factions and the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF), as well as demonstrations by unarmed Palestinian civilians dubbed the 'Al-Aqsa Intifada'. 


GOVERNMENT 

National Recruitment Legislation and Practice

Section 4 of Israel’s Basic Law on "The Army" adopted on 31 March 1976 states, "The duty of serving in the Army and recruitment for the Army shall be prescribed by or by virtue of Law."[1] The legal basis of conscription in Israel is the 1986 National Defense Service Law. Interviews and assessments for military service begin at age 16, call up occurs formally at 17 with a medical examination, and military service begins at the age of 18. However some applications for early admission are accepted from the age of 17 and some months.[2] Israel accepts voluntary recruits from the age of 17.

Officers serve 48 months. Male non-officers serve 36 months and female non-officers serve 21 months. Reserve duty, which was increased again during the Al-Aqsa intifada, is obligatory for men and certain categories of women.[3] New immigrants are subject to the same terms of conscription when they reach 18. Older immigrants are required to serve shorter periods of military service.[4] Each year 90 per cent of all Israelis who turn 18 are drafted. Ultra-Orthodox students studying at religious schools are usually exempt from military service. Other students may defer military service or combine it with their studies. Conscientious objectors are not excused and may be sentenced to prison for refusal to perform military service.

The minimum physical and educational standards for conscription are low so that the maximum number of conscripts are able to perform some form of service in the IDF, although it is reported that more than 20 per cent are discharged early on physical or psychological grounds.[5] Parental permission to join the IDF is needed for the sons and brothers of soldiers who have died in service. 

Minorities serve in one of the specialised units: the Minorities Unit, the Druze Reconnaissance Unit and the Trackers Unit, which consist mostly of Bedouin Arabs. The intelligence corps and the air force are closed to minorities. Christian and Muslim Arabs are exempt from compulsory military service but some volunteer, particularly the Bedouin. Israel's Druze and Muslim Circassian minorities, on the other hand, are subject to conscription. 

Child Recruitment

Minors are recruited into the IDF but the number of such recruits is not known. The Yediot Achronot newspaper pictured the IDF's youngest officer on 4 March 2001: "After she celebrated her 18th birthday Maayan Carpi got her rank as officer. Maayan ... is now the youngest officer in the IDF and in the history of the army. Maayan skipped a class and was drafted at 17 ½ . She's in charge of a unit of soldiers on reserve duty now." 

Palestinian and Israeli NGOs report working with juvenile detainees recruited as informers by Israeli intelligence agencies. In one case Palestinian authorities arrested four suspected collaborators in Beit Sahour. Two were 19 at the time and one claimed to have been recruited by the Israeli internal intelligence service at 16 years of age.


DEVELOPMENTS 

International Standards

During the UN working group on the Optional Protocol in January 2000 Israel announced a change in position in favour of 18 as the minimum age for deployment.[6] This was confirmed by Israeli Defence Force representatives in March 2001 who told a Knesset committee that "17-year-olds would no longer be allowed to serve as volunteers in combat units, even if their parents agree and would only be allowed to take courses until reaching 18".[7]

Israel is currently considering signature and ratification of ILO Convention 182 and the CRC-OP-CAC. At a Knesset committee hearing in March 2001 IDF representatives said they were willing to limit the age for compulsory service to 18, based on the Gregorian calendar, subject to the following conditions: (1) Amendment of section 20 of the Military Service act to prolong the period of time for enlisting, which is currently measured according to age calculation method rather than the Gregorian calendar; (2) Maintaining the power to enlist volunteers over the age of 17 and six months who wish to be enlisted before the age of 18. This may include special service programs that do not involve actual service in early stages but demand enlistment. In the Academic Reserve programme, in which recruits report for one-day before deferring military service, persons can be enlisted after reaching the age of 17 ½ by the Gregorian calendar.[8]


[1] Israel’s Basic Law: www.uni-wuerzburg.de/law/is
[2] Brett and McCallin op. cit.; Horeman and Stolwijk op. cit.; under sections 2(2) of the National Defence Service Law, the army use a special method to calculate age allowing a person of 17.5 years to considered 18 for the purpose of the law.
[3] Ibid.
[4] Helen Chapin Metz op. cit.
[5] Information provided by the NGO New Profile based in Tel Aviv. 
[6] CSC Update 6, 19/10/01.
[7] Jerusalem Post, 6/3/01.
[8] Information provided by Israeli Defence Force to CSC, 3/01.


JORDAN

THE HASHEMITE KINGDOM OF JORDAN

POPULATION: 6,482,000 total, 3,163,000 under-18s
GOVERNMENT ARMED FORCES: 103,880 active, 35,000 reserves, 10,000 (+35,000 Civil Militia “People’s Army” Reserves) paramilitary
COMPULSORY RECRUITMENT AGE: no conscription
VOLUNTARY RECRUITMENT AGE: 17
VOTING AGE (GOVERNMENT ELECTIONS): 19
CHILD SOLDIERS: indicated in government armed forces 
CRC-OP-CAC: signed on 6 September 2000; does not support “straight-18” position
OTHER TREATIES RATIFIED: CRC; GC/API+II; ILO 138; ILO 182

There are indications of under-18s in government armed forces as voluntary recruitment is possible from the age of seventeen. 


GOVERNMENT

National Recruitment Legislation and Practice

Conscription first began in Jordan after an Israeli raid on a West Bank border village in 1966. The government issued an emergency conscription act whereby males were to be drafted for training and service with regular military units for periods of up to two years. This law became inoperative when the security situation in Jordan stabilised. [1]

In 1976, another National Service Law was issued by royal decree, making all males over 18 liable for a 24 month military service. The new law allowed students to fulfil the compulsory two years of service after completing university studies or after reaching the age of 28. Exemptions were limited to only the sons and brothers of men who had died while in service, or to those who were physically unfit. Employment was prohibited for males of conscription age unless their call-up had been deferred as a result of sufficient numbers of recruits in the armed forces. 

Conscription in Jordan was suspended in 1992. [2] However, conscription law has not officially been repealed, subsequently military service could be reintroduced. [3] Jordan accepts voluntary recruits from the age of 17 years. 

Military Training and Military Schools

Students at military schools do not formally become members of the armed forces until they complete their studies. No information is available on minimum age entry requirements.

Child Involvement in Paramilitary Activities

In 1983 the Jordanian parliament approved a People's Army Law requiring male and female high school and college students, as well as males between the ages of sixteen and fifty-five who had not undergone military service, to become members of an auxiliary force called the People's Army. Women between the ages of sixteen and forty-five who were not students could volunteer for the programme. The People’s Army was launched in order to augment the regular armed forces with a 200,000 strong people's militia comprising students and non-military civilians.[4] It has not in practice mobilised more than 35,000. [5] This civil militia is no longer believed to be operative. [6] 


DEVELOPMENTS

International Standards

Jordan signed the CRC-OP-CAC in September 2000 but does not uphold a “straight-18” position.

Jordan hosted the Amman Conference on the Use of Children as Soldiers in the Middle East and North Africa Region from 8-10 April 2001.


[1] Helen Chapin Metz op. cit.
[2] Report of the Secretary General, UN doc. E/CN.4/1997/99.
[3] Brett, Rachel and Derek, Conscientious Objection to Military Service. Quaker Peace and Service, Geneva, 94.
[4] “Jordan to Launch New Citizen Army” The Guardian, 23/7/87.
[5] Ibid; also IISS Military Balance, 1989-90.
[6] Horeman & Stolwick op. cit.


KUWAIT

THE STATE OF KUWAIT

POPULATION: 1,897,000 total, 792,000 under-18s
GOVERNMENT ARMED FORCES: 15,300 active, 23,700 reserves, 5,000 paramilitary
COMPULSORY RECRUITMENT AGE: 18 
VOLUNTARY RECRUITMENT AGE: 18 
VOTING AGE (GOVERNMENT ELECTIONS): 21
CHILD SOLDIERS: none indicated
CRC-OP-CAC: not signed
OTHER TREATIES RATIFIED: CRC; GC/API+II; ILO 138; ILO 182

There are no indications of under-18s in government armed forces.


CONTEXT 

Kuwait was invaded by Iraq in 1990. Since the withdrawal of Iraqi forces at the end of the Gulf War in February 1991, Kuwait has hosted a large military presence of Western alliance forces.

GOVERNMENT 

National Recruitment Legislation and Practice

Kuwait is the only Gulf Cooperation Council state that has conscription provisions. Article 47 of the Constitution states, "National defence is a sacred duty, and military service is an honour for citizens which shall be regulated by law." According to Article 158 military service is regulated by law.[1]

Conscription has existed in Kuwait since 1961. The legal basis of conscription is the 1980 Compulsory Service Act.[2] All men between the age of 18 and 30 are liable for military service, which lasts two years or one year for university graduates.[3] Educational deferments exist, and in practice exemptions are usually granted. In fact, most young Kuwaitis avoid military service, leading to shortages of military personnel.[4] After the Gulf War the Kuwait Government attempted to increase the strength of the armed forces to 30,000, but has so far only succeeded in reaching half that number.[5] The minimum voluntary recruitment age is 18.[6]

Since independence, the Bidun of Kuwait (tribal people residing in Kuwait who were unable to prove Kuwaiti citizenship) had formed the backbone of the Kuwaiti army. Before 1991, approximately 90 per cent of the Kuwaiti army was Bidun. After the Iraqi invasion, the Kuwaiti Government in exile dismissed all Bidun soldiers retroactively and only a small proportion were rehired after the government was restored to power. Bidun still live in Kuwait but are not liable for conscription as they are not considered Kuwaiti citizens.[7]


[1] www.uni-wuerzburg.de/law/
[2] UN Commission on Human Rights, Updated Report of the Secretary General prepared pursuant to Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities resolution 1991/34. United Nations, Geneva, E/CN.4/sub.2-/1992/35/add.1
[3] Report of Secretary General, UN doc. E/CN.4/1997/99 op. cit.
[4] Helen Chapin Metz op. cit.
[5] Ibid.
[6] Brett and McCallin op. cit.
[7] The Bedoons of Kuwait: Citizens without Citizenship (New York, 1995), HRW; Promises Betrayed: Denial of the Rights of Bidun, Women and Freedom of Expression, HRW

LEBANON


THE LEBANESE REPUBLIC

POPULATION: 3,236,000 total, 1,257,000 under-18s
GOVERNMENT ARMED FORCES: 63,570 active, 13,000 paramilitary
COMPULSORY RECRUITMENT AGE: 18 
VOLUNTARY RECRUITMENT AGE: 18 
VOTING AGE (GOVERNMENT ELECTIONS): 21
CHILD SOLDIERS: none indicated in government armed forces; indicated in armed groups 
CRC-OP-CAC: not signed
OTHER TREATIES RATIFIED: CRC; GC

Children are known to participate in various armed groups operating in the country. There are no indications of under-18s in government armed forces.


CONTEXT 

In 1975 civil war broke out between various Maronite Christian factions and an alliance of Muslim, Leftist and Palestinian militias. The first phase of fighting ended in 1976 with Syrian intervention in support of the Lebanese government. Intense fighting resumed in 1982 after the Israeli invasion of Lebanon. From 1985 Israel maintained a "security zone" in the south of Lebanon in a bid to stop cross border attacks, supporting a local militia – the South Lebanese Army (SLA) – to maintain control of the strip. After the invasion the Palestinian Liberation Organisation’s (PLO) presence was limited to a few refugee camps in the south. In this vacuum, the Shi’a Muslim Hizbullah emerged and resumed attacks in the southern zone, as well as launching several rocket attacks into Israel itself. This low-intensity conflict ended in June 2000 with Israeli withdrawal from South Lebanon. Many militia fighters have turned their weapons over to the government and/or joined the armed forces. The South Lebanese Army has been dissolved, with members either on trial in Lebanon or taking refuge in Israel. A 30,000 strong Syrian ‘protection force’ remains in Lebanon in support of the government.


GOVERNMENT 

National Recruitment Legislation and Practice

There is no mention of military service in the Constitution.[1] The legal basis of conscription is Law 110/1983. During the civil war this law was not implemented. In 1992, conscription was resumed under decree 2354/1992. All men between the age of 18 and 29 are liable for military service, which lasts for 12 months.[2] The minimum age for voluntary recruitment is 18.[3] 


ARMED GROUPS 

Child Recruitment and Deployment

Armed militias had a history of recruiting youths during the civil war, with both young boys and girls taking part in the fighting.[4] Some girls, as young as eleven, received military training from the militias.[5] The 1996 Graça Machel report noted that some adults had used young people's immaturity to their own advantage, recruiting and training adolescents for suicide bombings.[6] A study commissioned by UNICEF in 1990 estimated that one per cent of Lebanese children had taken part in combat, and stated that many young people may have become resigned to violence and a military life.[7] 
A documentary film called War Generation produced by Jean Chamoun and Mai Meeri showed the impact of the war on Lebanese youth. Some these youth began military training at the age of thirteen. One boy was quoted as saying, "The war forces us to take up arms." Some of the youths fought on more than one side, siding with Muslims, Christians, Druze or Palestinians at different times. Many youths had no ideological commitments but were more concerned with protection, income and loss of education.[8]

Hizbullah: 300-500 active, with 3,000 reserves [9]

Unlike other groups in this section, Hizbullah operates with the consent of the Lebanese government. This militia turned political party was established in 1982 by a group of Shi’a clerics. In May 2000, Israeli forces withdrew from their so-called "security zone" but Hizbullah maintained an armed presence in the south. Hizbullah is alleged to have formerly recruited children as young as ten into its ranks; however this practice has now ceased as it no longer has a shortage of mature, voluntary recruits.[10] 

Palestinian groups

The Lebanese Government has not attempted to disarm several armed Palestinian factions which control refugee camps. Boys and girls between the ages of 8 and 16 have in the past been trained in combat in the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) refugee camps in southern Lebanon. One observer commented that Palestinian boys known as "Palestinian Lion Cubs" were proficient in the use of rifles and commando techniques. Girls of the same age also carry rifles.[11]

South Lebanese Army (SLA)

The SLA, which included Muslims from the Sunni, Shia and Druze traditions as well as Christians, was responsible for forcibly recruiting teenage boys. No minimum age has been specified for those entering the militia. A former SLA fighter who deserted in 1995 told Human Rights Watch, "They take them even at twelve years old if they are tall and strong."[12] Other accounts suggest that sometimes the SLA security chief in a village personally instructed fathers that their sons should "volunteer." If families did not respond, the sons were forcibly recruited. A former resident of Sheba, said that teenagers between the ages of fifteen and seventeen were targeted for forced recruitment.[13] The South Lebanese Army has been dissolved, with members either on trial in Lebanon or taking refuge in Israel. Although the SLA included children under 18 in its ranks, none of the former SLA members currently on trial in Lebanon are minors.

A 21 year old from a small village in the eastern sector of the occupied zone described how he was forcibly recruited into the SLA in 1995, when he was seventeen years old. During the two years before he was seized, he would hide when militia men came to the village looking for new recruits. In 1995, when he was in his last year of technical school studying to be an electrician, ten militiamen in uniform arrived in a truck and a jeep and surrounded the family's home, their guns drawn. "They stormed the house and took me," he said. "They told me that I had a problem and was wanted." He said that his parents and his school principal unsuccessfully pleaded with local SLA security authorities to let him finish school. He was taken first to the security office in the village, where he was beaten and tortured because he had eluded military service for several years. Then he was moved to the SLA's Megidiyya military training camp for twenty days, where he was placed under constant surveillance. After training, he served for two months in Beit Yahoun and Bra’ashit until he managed to escape and flee the zone. As a precaution, the family also arranged the departure of his 15-year-old brother from the village.
(HRW. Persona Non Grata: the Expulsion of Civilians from Israeli-Occupied Lebanon. New York, HRW, 1999 p.35)


[1] www.uni-wuezburg.de/law
[2] Horeman and Stolwijk op. cit.; Brett and McCallin op. cit.
[3] Brett and McCallin op. cit.
[4] Woods, Dorothea, Child Soldiers, The Recruitment of Children into the Armed Forces and Their Participation in Hostilities, London, Quaker Peace and Service, 1993.
[5] Karame, Kari H.’ "Girl’s Participation In Combat: A Case Study From Lebanon", in Elizabeth Warnock Fernea’s Children in the Muslim Middle East, Austin, University of Texas Press, 1995, p. 379.
[6] UN, Graça Machel, Impact of Armed Conflict on Children, 26/6/96.
[7] Mona Macksoud, Lebanese Children and War, UNICEF Conference on Peace-Building and Development of Lebanon, 4/90
[8] Victoria Sherrow op. cit.
[9] IISS op. cit.
[10] RB, Child war database www.rb.se
[11] Victoria Sherrow op. cit., p.180
[12] HRW, Persona Non Grata: the Expulsion of Civilians from Israeli-Occupied Lebanon, p.35
[13] Ibid


LIBYA

THE SOCIALIST PEOPLE’S LIBYAN ARAB JAMAHIRIYA

POPULATION: 5,471,000 total, 2,514,000 under-18s
GOVERNMENT ARMED FORCES: 76,000 active, 40,000 reserves(people's militia)
COMPULSORY RECRUITMENT AGE: 17, 18 or 19 (unclear) [1]
VOLUNTARY RECRUITMENT AGE: 14 or 16 (unclear)
VOTING AGE (GOVERNMENT ELECTIONS): 18
CHILD SOLDIERS: indicated in government armed forces 
CRC-OP-CAC: not signed
OTHER TREATIES RATIFIED: CRC; GC/API+II; ILO 138; ILO 182

There are indications of under-18s in government armed forces as conflicting information suggests that recruitment under 18 is possible, but children are reportedly not deployed. 


CONTEXT 

National Recruitment Legislation and Practice

Article 16 of the Constitutional Proclamation of 11 December 1969 states that "[D]efence of the homeland is a sacred duty. Military service is an honour for the Libyan People". A similar principle is proclaimed in article 3 of the General People's Congress Law No. 20 of 1991 on the consolidation of freedom which states "[D]efending the homeland is a right and an honour and no male or female citizen must be deprived of it".

The minimum age for conscription is unclear. According to Act No. 9 of 1987 (as amended) concerning national service, national service is compulsory for all citizens who have attained 18 years of age.[2] However, the age of conscription is lower in the General People's Congress Law No 21 of 1991 on Mobilisation. Article 1 deals with the definition of terms used in this law, defining 'human resources' as "male and female citizen who attain their 17th year of age provided they are physically able to engage in combat and production." It has not been possible to obtain a copy of Act No. 9 of 1987 on national [military] service, to which this law refers. Other sources claim military service is compulsory for all men and women aged 18 to 35. In 1998 a Libyan representative told the Committee on the Rights of the Child (apparently referring to compulsory service) that "19 was the minimum age for military service, but [that] persons who had not yet completed their studies could postpone military service until the age of 26."[3] Military service is believed to last for 3 years in the army and 4 years in the navy and air force. 

Libya reportedly accepts voluntary recruits from the age of 16 but under-18s are restricted to training and are not deployed in operations. During Libya's hearing before the Committee on the Rights of the Child, one Committee member reported receiving information that the minimum age for voluntary service in the armed forces was as low as 14.[4] It seems that only a small proportion of conscripts are actually recruited given the size of the armed forces and the potential number of recruits in terms of population size.

People who have acquired so-called 'Arab nationality', created by the Libyan government for workers from neighbouring countries who were recognised as Arabs, are also liable for military service.[5] Women are very involved in military activities. 

Military Training and Military Schools

Children from the age of 16 are reported to attend military schools. Moreover, during their education all children receive preliminary military training from the age of 14 upwards. School children between 15 and 18 were once trained in the use of hand-weapons, but this scheme has reportedly been discontinued.[6] A military academy for young girls was created in 1979.[7]


[1] Brett and McCallin op. cit.
[2] Initial Report of Libya to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Doc. CRC/C/28/Add.6, 26, 9/96, para. 40.
[3] UN Doc. CRC/C/SR.432, 12/1/98, paras. 63 and 65.
[4] Ibid. paras. 63 and 65.
[5] Horeman and Stolwijk op. cit.
[6] Ibid.
[7] Nicolas, C. "Libres, Libyennes", Le Nouvel Observateur, 7/5/97


MAURITANIA

ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF MAURITANIA

POPULATION: 2,598,000 total, 1,307,000 under-18s
GOVERNMENT ARMED FORCES: 15,650 active, 5,000 paramilitary (active) 
COMPULSORY RECRUITMENT AGE: 17 (unclear) 
VOLUNTARY RECRUITMENT AGE: 18; 16 with consent (unclear)
VOTING AGE (GOVERNMENT ELECTIONS): 18
CHILD SOLDIERS: indicated
CRC-OP-CAC: not signed
OTHER TREATIES RATIFIED: CRC; GC

There are indications of under-18s in government armed forces given that recruitment is possible from the age of 16. However, numbers of such recruits are not known. 


CONTEXT 

There are still tensions in the country following the conflict with Senegal in 1989 when ethnic pogroms took place in both countries. Furthermore, the ultimate resolution of the conflict in the Western Sahara will inevitably have consequences for Mauritania.[1]


GOVERNMENT 

National Recruitment Legislation and Practice

Article 18(1) of the 1991 Constitution states that: "Every citizen has the duty of protecting and safeguarding the independence of the country, its sovereignty, and the integrity of its territory."[2] 

The 1962 Law on Recruitment of the Army (Law no. 132/62 of 29 June 1962) provides for two-year compulsory service. According to this law, every citizen who has reached the age of 17 must be registered, and following a medical examination a Council (Conseil de révision) must deliberate each case. The age of actual recruitment is not expressly mentioned, but is believed to be 17.[3] 

Official sources claim recruitment into the armed forces is actually on a voluntary basis and the minimum age of recruitment is 18.[4] But according to Article 7 of the above-mentioned law, Mauritanian citizens who have reached the age of 16 may enlist voluntarily with the consent of parents or a tutor, or through authorisation by the Minister of Defence. There is no available information on how recruitment is currently carried out.


[1] Balencie and de La Grange op. cit.
[2] Constitutions of the World, <http://www.charter88.org.uk/politics/links/link_cons_af.html>;
Horeman and Stolwijk op. cit.
[3] Brett and McCallin, op. cit.
[4] Telephone conversation between CSC and the office of the military attaché at the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania in Paris, France, 10 February 1999.


MOROCCO

KINGDOM OF MOROCCO

POPULATION: 27,867,000 total, 11,030,000 under-18s
GOVERNMENT ARMED FORCES: 198,500 active, 150,000 reserves, paramilitary (active): 42,000 
COMPULSORY RECRUITMENT AGE: 18
VOLUNTARY RECRUITMENT AGE: 18
VOTING AGE (GOVERNMENT ELECTIONS): 20
CHILD SOLDIERS: none indicated 
CRC-OP-CAC: signed on 8 September 2000; supports a "straight-18" position
OTHER TREATIES RATIFIED: CRC; GC/API+II; ILO 138; ILO 182

There are no indications of under-18s in government armed forces.


CONTEXT 

In 1976, after the withdrawal of Spain from Western Sahara, an armed conflict broke out between Morocco and the opposition Popular Front for the Liberation of the Saquiat al-Hamra and the Rio de Oro (Polisario Front), which had proclaimed an independent ‘Saharan Arab Democratic Republic’. On 6 September 1991 a UN-sponsored cease-fire came into effect and a United Nations Mission (MINURSO) was established. A referendum for self-determination among the Western Saharan population was due to be conducted, but has been postponed many times. There has been no fighting between Morocco and the Polisario Front since the UN peace plan in 1991.


GOVERNMENT 

National Recruitment Legislation and Practice

Article 16 of the 1972 Constitution states that "All citizens contribute to the common defence of the homeland."[1] Eighteen years is the minimum age for voluntary or compulsory recruitment in the armed forces as fixed by the Royal Decree of 9 June 1966.[2] There is no evidence of underage recruitment into the Moroccan armed forces.[3] According to UNICEF, the minimum age of 18 years applies to all civil servants and the legislative provisions are enforced.

Military service lasts 18 months. Although service is, in theory, compulsory for all males (with possible exemptions), not all are called up and it seems that urban youths are more likely to perform military service because of their better education. Moreover it is believed that the majority of those enrolled are volunteers, and because of the popularity of joining the armed forces only one out of 60 volunteers are admitted. There is also the possibility for recruits to perform a two-year civilian service in government departments.[4] 

Military Training and Military Schools

There are four military schools in the country where children are enrolled at the end of primary school, but they officially become members of the armed forces only after passing the national exam organised every year for students with high school diplomas. Successful students then enrol in various military graduate schools (air force, navy, etc.).[5] Military high school students who are under 18 follow the same training programmes as pupils in national education system. They may leave at any time.[6]


OPPOSITION 

Polisario Front: 3,000-6,000 fighters [7]

The Polisario Front is still believed to be forcibly recruiting into its ranks. However many recruits reportedly join the Front as a way of leaving the refugee camps. No information is available on the minimum age for recruitment.


DEVELOPMENTS 

International Standards

Morocco signed the CRC-OP-CAC on 8 September 2000 and supports a "straight-18" position.


[1] Constitutions of the World op. cit.
[2] Report of Morocco to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, CRC/C/28/Add.1, 19/8/95, para 50.
[3] Information supplied by UNICEF
[4] Horeman and Stolwijk op. cit.
[5] Ibid.
[6] Report of Morocco to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, op. cit. para 51.
[7] IISS 2001.

OMAN


SULTANATE OF OMAN

POPULATION: 2,460,000[1] total, 1,260,000[2] under-18s
GOVERNMENT ARMED FORCES: 43,500 active, 4,900 paramilitary
COMPULSORY RECRUITMENT AGE: no conscription 
VOLUNTARY RECRUITMENT AGE: 18
VOTING AGE (GOVERNMENT ELECTIONS): unknown
CHILD SOLDIERS: none indicated
CRC-OP-CAC: not signed
OTHER TREATIES RATIFIED: CRC; GC/API+II

There are no indications of under-18s in government armed forces.


GOVERNMENT 

National Recruitment Legislation and Practice

Article 14 of the Constitution states that "No organisation or group is allowed to establish military or paramilitary forces. The Law regulates military services, general or partial mobilisation and the rights, duties and disciplinary rules of the armed forces, the public security organisations and any other forces the state decides to establish."[3] Conscription has not existed in Oman since its independence in 1970.[4] Voluntary recruits are accepted between the ages of 18 and 30.

In the past, Oman used to have trouble recruiting for its armed forces and up to ten per cent of its soldiers were foreign.[5] After Oman’s independence in 1970, nearly all army officers and men were Baluchis from Pakistan, except for senior commanders, who were British. Oman formerly governed parts of the Baluchistan coast and when the territory was passed to Pakistan after independence there was an agreement that Oman would continue to recruit people from this area to its armed forces. As of early 1993, most officers were Omanis although British involvement continued, especially in the armoured regiment. The Ministry of Information’s annual report in 1999 claims that there is "stiff competition" to join the armed forces and that the Royal Oman Police had achieved over 98 per cent "Omanisation".[6] There are no military schools for children under 18. To join the army in Oman completion of secondary education is required.


[1] Ministry of National Economy, Statistical Yearbook, Sultanate of Oman, 8/00, p.46., 596,000 of this figure are expatriates.
[2] UNICEF figures, Oman government figures indicate there are 1,071,059 persons under 19, of which 72,902 are expatriates; Ministry of National Economy, Statistical Yearbook, Sultanate of Oman, 8/00.
[3] www.uni-wuerzburg.de/law/mu00000
[4] Helen Chapin Metz, op. cit.; Brett and McCallin op. cit.
[5] Ibid.
[6] Ministry of Information, Oman 99, p.69 and p.80


PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY/ OCCUPIED TERRITORIES


POPULATION: 3,000,000[1] total, 53% under-18s
SECURITY FORCES:[2] nil active, 35,000 paramilitary
COMPULSORY RECRUITMENT AGE: not applicable[3]
VOLUNTARY RECRUITMENT AGE: 18; 17 under Jordanian law applied in special cases
VOTING AGE (GOVERNMENT ELECTIONS): unknown
CHILD SOLDIERS: indicated in various armed groups
CRC-OP-CAC: not member of UN so cannot formally sign or ratify
OTHER TREATIES RATIFIED: not member of UN or ILO so cannot formally sign or ratify. However, the PLO officially endorsed the CRC on 5 April 1995

While there are some reports of children participating in Palestinian armed groups, there is no evidence of systematic recruitment. Children participating in intifada demonstrations cannot be considered child soldiers. 


CONTEXT 

Israel has militarily occupied the Palestinian territories of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and border areas of the Golan Heights since 1967. Israel agreed to transfer most administrative responsibilities for civil government in the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank to the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the May 1994 Gaza-Jericho agreement and the September 1995 Interim Agreement. In January 1996, Palestinians elected their first government, which consisted of an 88-member Council and the Chairman of the Executive Authority. The Fatah faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) holds most senior government positions in the PA. Renewed conflict began in September 2000 with clashes between various Palestinian factions and the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF), and demonstrations by unarmed Palestinians dubbed the Al-Aqsa intifada.


PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY 

Palestinian Police and Security Forces

According to the Oslo agreement, the PA cannot have armed forces but only a Palestinian Police Force, which may comprise up to 30,000 policemen serving in Palestinian Authority Areas (zone A) only (18,000 in Gaza and 12,000 in West Bank).[4] The Palestinian Police Force includes the Palestinian Public Security Force, the Palestinian Civil Police, Emergency and Rescue, the Preventive Security Force, the General Intelligence Service (mukhabarat), and the Palestinian Presidential Security Force, known as Force 17.[5] The Palestinian Authorities refuse to declare the actual numbers of these forces and have been accused by Israel of recruiting above agreed levels. With the police drawing only $300 per month in salary, there is reportedly widespread "ghosting", with personnel on the books who receive salary but not actually on police duty.

The minimum age for volunteering in the PA police forces is 18, is the same as for any other servant in the administration. The draft Palestinian Child Rights Charter incorporates an article forbidding the enlistment of children under 18 in any armed forces. According to some sources, the Palestinian authority applies Jordanian military law and accepts some recruits below 18 for special tasks, e.g. musical ability. When the PA attempted to introduce national service law in 1997, which would induct high school graduates into community service, Israeli authorities objected stating that this was an attempt to induct young people into military service.[6]

There is no military training in regular schools. However, in the summer of 2000 it was estimated that nearly 50,000 children were enrolled in military-style camps, which included military discipline rules and training in the use of light arms. These were mostly organised by a government organisation, the Political Guidance and Training Unit. 

Armed Groups and Militias

In addition to role as a political party, Fatah has a loosely organised network of militias engaged in resistance to the Israeli military occupation. The minimum age to join Fatah as a political party is sixteen and as militia members are chosen from this political support base they would therefore almost always be over seventeen. There have been no reports of the military recruitment of children by Fatah militias.


OTHER ARMED GROUPS 

Hamas (Harakat Al-Muqawama Al-Islamia -- Islamic Resistance Movement)

Hamas is an Islamist political organization which became active in the early stages of the first intifada. Hamas has a complex structure, working openly through a network of mosques and social service institutions designed for recruitment, fund raising and the distribution of propaganda. Hamas' activities are concentrated in the Gaza Strip and in a few areas of the West Bank. Like other political groupings, Hamas maintains an armed wing to fight Israeli military occupation, the Izz al-Deen Al-Qassem Brigades.

Hamas receives funds from Palestinian expatriates, private benefactors in Saudi Arabia and other moderate Arab states as well as the state of Iran. Some fundraising and propaganda activities take place in Western Europe and North America. There have been reports of children below 15 years of age in Hamas, with the lowest recorded age being 12, but the process of selection for the Izz al-Deen Al-Qassem Brigades is reportedly long and rigorous and has not to date included children.[7] 

Islamic Jihad

The Islamic Jihad, another political organisation with an armed wing which originated in the Gaza Strip during the 1970s, is committed to the creation of an Islamic Palestinian state.[8] There is no evidence of child participation in Islamic Jihad.


THE INTIFADAS 

The first intifada

The Palestinian intifada or uprising against Israeli military occupation that erupted in December 1987 in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, apparently began as a spontaneous popular movement and was not directly controlled by the PLO. Local members of Fatah, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine and other parties put aside their differences and united in order to provide an organisational role through "popular committees" in camps and villages. The Israeli authorities responded to the uprising with force. 
Youths played a pivotal role in the first intifada through civil disobedience and non-violent protest, as well as "throwing stones, blocking roads, burning tires, spraying graffiti..."[9] According to one study by the Palestinian Women's Committee, "The average participation of children in the (first) Intifada reached 73 per cent."[10] Palestinian journalist Daoud Kuttub, writes how the different age groups were assigned different roles during the intifada. The seven to ten-year-olds would "roll tires to the middle of the road, pouring gasoline on them, and setting them on fire. The eleven to fourteen-year-olds were "[a]ssigned the task of placing large stones in the road to slow down or stop traffic." The fifteen to nineteen-year-olds were cited as the experienced stone throwers.[11] 

Communiques were issued by al-Qiyada al- Wataniyya al-Muawahhada lil-Intifada, the United Leadership of the Uprising, which consisted of PLO factions: Fatah, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and other factions. The communiqués were designed to serve as directives to Palestinian society during the intifada. For example, Communiqué No.2 says, "O youth of Palestine, O throwers of incendiary stones, clearly the new fascists will be forced to admit the facts entrenched by your ferocious rebellion."[12] They outlined specific days when the confrontations were to take place, "Intensify the use of popular means against all enemies beginning with the holy stones and ending with the incendiary Molotov cocktails. O our people and the youths and the girls of Palestine, further strike force, further sacrifices for sake of Palestine."[13]

Voluntary youth organisations attached to political parties and factions helped in the mobilisation of Palestinian youth. The Lijan al-Shabiba l-Amal al-Ijtimat (Youth Committees for Social Activity) was established by Fatah in 1981 to increase support for the organisation and the connections between cities and rural countryside through sports and social activity. In addition, there were clubs in a number of towns in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, including the Young Men's Muslim Association in Jerusalem and the Islamic Centre in Gaza. The Democratic Front, the Palestine Communist Party, Muslim Brotherhood and other groups all had youth movements associated with them.[14]

The Al-Aqsa intifada

Children have been prominent in media portrayals of the latest Al-Aqsa intifada which began on 28 September 2000. There is no evidence to date of children being recruited or used systematically by the Palestinian authority or armed groups. 

The image of 12-year-old Mohammed al-Dirrah's last minutes before being shot by an Israeli soldier, or Fares Odeh, a small boy wearing jeans pants and sandals slinging a stone at an Israeli Merkavah tank have been widely reported the conflict.[15] Such images have galvanised Arab anger and prompted international criticism that Israel is using excessive force to contain the unrest. Children have also been prominent at many funerals, public rallies and demonstrations, sometimes wearing insignia or fatigues or carrying toy weapons. On 16 March, in Gaza city, young children reportedly acted out a suicide bombing at one public rally: "a boy of 10 went on stage in a white shroud and climbed into a coffin-like box covered with an Israeli flag as another boy threw a firecracker to mimic the sound of an explosion."[16]

A significant per centage of Palestinians killed in the Al-Aqsa uprising have been children, but few of these have been actively involved in violent demonstrations.[17] According to the PA website, as of 26 Feb 2001 a total of 97 children under 18 were killed during the Al-Aqsa intifada.[18] 

Many children killed in the conflict were mere bystanders or were killed in their homes or on their way to or from school. According to independent estimates, less than one per cent of the total Palestinian adolescent population (aged 12 to 18) has taken an active part in the clashes with the IDF. 

The Israeli authorities have accused the Palestinian community and political leadership of using children as "soldiers" in demonstrations where stones or Molotov cocktails are thrown, but Palestinian children participating in demonstrations in the Occupied Territories cannot be classified as child soldiers and there is no evidence of their having been recruited or used systematically by the authorities or armed groups. According to a UN Commission of Inquiry which visited the region in February 2001, "stone throwing by youths at heavily protected military posts hardly seems to involve participation in hostilities".[19] 

The PA Minister of Information Yasser Abed Rabbo issued a statement on 8 November 2000 calling on "all actors in Palestinian society to protect and prevent children from participating in violent demonstrations against the Israeli occupation." He added that "all political Palestinian parties had taken a decision to prevent all children under 18 years old to participate in the clashes." This decision was to be implemented by keeping Palestinian schools, colleges and universities open; urging children to stay away from confrontation areas; educational programs to convince students not to participate in demonstrations; and forming a national coordination committee to implement this decision. [20] There is no information on the implementation of this commitment or other statements by the Palestinian political leadership. There have been many cases, however, in which Palestinian policemen have attempted to remove armed men from demonstrations in which civilians or children have participated.[21]

Responding to a complaint from the B’tselem human rights organisation regarding Palestinian child participation in the clashes, the Minister explained that Palestinian authorities were making an effort to prevent children from taking part in the demonstrations, but that it was difficult to stop them because the children had grown up in an atmosphere of hostility toward the Israeli occupation. "Some of them live near settlements and are subject to daily harassment by the settlers... others had fathers or brothers killed or jailed in Israeli prisons."[22].

The UN Commission of Inquiry, in its report to the UN Commission on Human Rights, stated: "While the Commission is prepared to accept that some children are likely to have been exposed to anti-Israeli propaganda in school or special training camps, it cannot disregard the fact that demonstrations are substantially the result of the humiliation and frustration felt by children and their families from years of occupation. The Commission heard evidence from parents and NGOs about the unsuccessful attempts of many parents to prevent their children participating in demonstrations and the grief caused them by the death and suffering of their children…It is likely that the Palestinian Authority could have done more to restrain children from participation in stone-throwing demonstrations. The evidence suggests that, on occasion, the Palestinian police made attempts to prevent demonstrations, but these attempts were often unsuccessful. This can be ascribed to the incompetence of the Palestinian police, the fact that the Palestinian police were themselves targeted by stone-throwers when they attempted to curtail demonstrations, and an understandable identification of the Palestinian police with the goals and spirit of the demonstrators." [23]

Youths arrested for political reasons are detained with criminal prisoners. In 1999, the Israeli military re-instituted Military Order No. 132, permitting its forces to arrest Palestinian children as young as twelve. Originally issued during the first intifada, this order had been suspended in 1993.[24] Following the renewed implementation of the order, groups of Palestinian children reported that they were beaten and threatened with physical abuse during interrogation. 

Palestinian youth held in Israel’s Telmond Prison said they were held in over-crowded conditions and experienced difficulties in receiving family visits and medical treatment. Often arrested from home, they are taken to detention centres under Ministry of Defence control, and then to military court where they have been sentenced to 10-20 months, and in one case of attempted stabbing - 6.5 years. Children of the intifada were incarcerated along with Palestinian adults, though Palestinian community leaders have indicated that the detention of children with adults may offer better protection from ill treatment and coercion.[25]


DEVELOPMENTS 

International Standards

Since the PA is not a UN or ILO member state it cannot formally sign and ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), its optional protocols or any other international legal instruments. 

However, the PA officially endorsed the CRC on 5 April 1995. In October 1993, Chairman Yasser Arafat told Amnesty International that the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) was committed to respecting all internationally recognised human rights standards and to incorporate them fully into Palestinian legislation.

Palestinian children, whether or not participating in demonstrations, are entitled to all the rights under the Convention on the Rights of Child. In addition, they are entitled to the special protections afforded by the Fourth Geneva Convention (GC IV), which defines the rights of persons living under occupation and the obligations of the Occupying Power towards them. 


[1] Figures for the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem according to IISS op. cit.
[2] IISS op. cit., p. 50-151.
[3] Brett and McCallin op. cit.
[4] Information provided by DCI - Palestine
[5] US State Department Human Rights Report 2000.
[6] "National Service Law Proposed", Jerusalem Times, 15/8/97
[7] The Jerusalem Report 6/4/95
[8] Federation of American Scientists op. cit.
[9] Kate Rouhana, "Children and the Intifada", Journal of Palestine Studies, vol. 18, no. 4, 111. 
[10] Youssef Nashef, The Psychological Impact of the Intifada on Palestinian Children Living in Refugee Camps in the West Bank as Reflected in their Dreams, Drawings and Behaviour." Peter Lang Berlin 1992, 76-7
[11] Daoud Kuttub, "A Profile of the Stone throwers," Journal of Palestine Studies, vol. 17, no.3 Spring 1988, 19. 
[12] "Communiques of the United National Leadership of the Uprising," in Intifada, eds. Zachary Lockman and Joel Benin, 330
[13] Ibid 353.
[14] Emile Sahliyeh, In Search of Leadership: West bank Politics Since 1967, The Brookings Institute Washington DC, 1988 145-147.
[15] Saud Abu Ramadan, "The death of a 14-year-old ‘martyr’", United Press International, 20/12/00
[16] The Guardian, 17/3/01
[17] Kathryn Westcott, "Children Become Symbol of Struggle" BBC News, 19/11/00.
[18] http://www.pna.org/mininfo/issues/mlist1.htm
[19] UN Commission of Inquiry chaired by Prof John Dugard, E/CN.4/2001/121
[20] Statement issued on 8/11/0 by Palestinian Ministry of Information.
[21] Ibid.
[22] Danny Rubinstein, "No Mere Stone's Throw" Haaretz
[23] UN Commission of Inquiry, op cit
[24] Commission on Human Rights E/CN/4/2000/25 Question of the Violation of Human Rights in the Occupied Arab Territories, Including Palestine
[25] Graham Usher, "Children in the Intifada: the psychological Impact," Middle East Insight, no. 405, 26/7/91,19.

QATAR


STATE OF QATAR

POPULATION: 589,000 total, 182,000 under-18s
GOVERNMENT ARMED FORCES: 12,330 active
COMPULSORY RECRUITMENT AGE: no conscription
VOLUNTARY RECRUITMENT AGE: 18
VOTING AGE (GOVERNMENT ELECTIONS): unknown
CHILD SOLDIERS: none indicated
CRC-OP-CAC: not signed
OTHER TREATIES RATIFIED: CRC; GC; ILO 182

There are no indications of under-18s in government armed forces. 


GOVERNMENT 

National Recruitment Legislation and Practice

Qatar has never had conscription law.[1] The government stated in 1992 that "Enlistment in the armed forces and the police in the State of Qatar is optional and voluntary. Accordingly, the question of conscientious objection to military service does not arise in view of the non-compulsory nature of military service in the State." The minimum age for joining the armed forces in Qatar is 18.[2] Qataris only form 30 per cent of the armed forces with the remainder coming from Pakistan, Somalia and other Arab countries.[3] 


DEVELOPMENTS 

International Standards

At the second preparatory meeting for the UN General Assembly Special Session on Children in January 2001, the representative of Qatar said "The government supports international efforts aiming at the universal ratification of the Optional Protocols (including on the involvement of children in armed conflict)… accordingly, we strongly condemn any illegal exploitation of children as something totally contrary to our tolerant and enlightened Islamic teachings. We encourage efforts by the international community to put an end to such outrageous practices."[4][1] UN Commission on Human Rights, Report of the Secretary General Prepared Pursuant to Commission Resolution 1991/65 (and 3 Addendums). United Nations, Geneva, 1992.


[2] Ibid.
[3] State Department, Persian Gulf States-Area Handbook,Washington DC, Library of Congress, 1993.
[4] Qatar government statement at the second preparatory committee meeting of the UN General Assembly Special Session on Children, 1/01

SAUDI ARABIA

KINGDOM OF SAUDI ARABIA

POPULATION: 20,899,000 total, 9,831,000 under-18s
GOVERNMENT ARMED FORCES: 201,500 active, 25,000 reserves [1], 15,500+ paramilitary
COMPULSORY RECRUITMENT AGE: no conscription 
VOLUNTARY RECRUITMENT AGE: unknown
VOTING AGE (GOVERNMENT ELECTIONS): unknown
CHILD SOLDIERS: unknown
CRC-OP-CAC: not signed
OTHER TREATIES RATIFIED: CRC; GC/API+II

It is not known if there are under-18s in government armed forces due to insufficient information about minimum voluntary recruitment age. 


CONTEXT 

There is no armed conflict in the country though armed groups have mounted attacks in connection with the presence of US and Western alliance forces in the region.


GOVERNMENT 

National Recruitment Legislation and Practice

According to article 34 of the Constitution, "The defence of the Islamic religion, society, and country is a duty for each citizen". The government establishes the provisions of military service. 

Conscription has never existed in Saudi Arabia, however, and volunteers are relied on to fill the ranks of the services.[2] Anyone seeking a commission by attending a military academy has to be 18 years-old and a citizen by birth or a naturalised citizen for at least five years.[3] The minimum age for voluntary recruitment to ordinary ranks is not clear.

Plans to increase the size of the army and National Guard would seem to necessitate some form of compulsory service. On several occasions, Saudi officials have stated that a draft would be introduced, but conscription has not been implemented as it would most likely be unpopular and easy to avoid, and could draw unreliable elements into the armed forces. In June 1991, however, the Minister of Defense and Aviation declared that conscription was not a viable option because the number of volunteers was exceeding the capacity of military centres available to train them.[4]
In order to attract Saudi youth into joining the armed forces, the Ministry of Defense and Aviation has established its own high schools and colleges which offer subsidised education. The government also conducts advertising campaigns to entice young Saudi males to join the armed forces. Recruiting stations are spread throughout the country. The National Guard continues to rely on tribal levies to fill its ranks, recruiting from the tribes of Najd, reputedly the most trustworthy in the Kingdom.[5]

To augment its armed forces, Saudi Arabia imports officers from other Arab countries, as well as Pakistan. At one time, there were approximately 15,000 Pakistanis in the armed forces. However, the contracting of Pakistani soldiers was phased out due to a disagreement between the Saudi and Pakistani governments over the screening-out of Shi'a soldiers during the Iran-Iraq war.[6] 

(The Pakistan armed forces accept voluntary recruits from age 16 – see Pakistan country entry.)


[1] Saudi Arabia Chapter of Shlomo, Brom & Yiftah Shapir, The Middle East Military Balance, 1999-2000 (MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass, 2000
[2] Brett and McCallin op. cit.
[3] Ibid.
[4] Helen Chapin Metz, op. cit.
[5] Ibid.
[6] Ibid.

SUDAN

REPUBLIC OF SUDAN

POPULATION: 28,883,000 total, 13,618,000 under-18s
GOVERNMENT ARMED FORCES: 104,900 active, 15,000 paramilitary
COMPULSORY RECRUITMENT AGE: 17
VOLUNTARY RECRUITMENT AGE: unknown
VOTING AGE (GOVERNMENT ELECTIONS): 17
CHILD SOLDIERS: indicated in government and opposition forces
CRC-OP-CAC: not signed
OTHER TREATIES RATIFIED: CRC; GC

There has been extensive use of child soldiers, including some as young as ten, by both government and opposition armed forces. The government has also provided military support to the Lords Resistance Army in Uganda – a group notorious for its abduction, forced recruitment and brutal treatment of children. Armed opposition groups, including the SPLA are known to have children in their ranks. In February 2001, the SPLA cooperated with UNICEF in the demobilisation of 3,200 child soldiers.


CONTEXT 

Sudan has experienced civil war in the south of the country for 18 years; the conflict spread in 1986 to the central Nuba mountains and in 1995 to the east of Sudan, becoming a war of marginalised groups against the centre. The war is estimated to have resulted in 2 million deaths, directly or indirectly (ie by famine and illness caused by civilian displacement). The principal insurgent group is the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), led by John Garang. In 1995, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) was formed as a broad political alliance that includes the SPLA and insurgent forces operating out of Ethiopia and Eritrea carrying out offensives along the Sudanese border. In 2000 the government and SPLA met on four occasions with mediators from the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD), but there was no significant progress towards peace. 

There are also several smaller factions, the largest of which broke from the SPLA on ethnic lines in 1991, became the South Sudan Independence Movement/Army (SSIM/A), entered into a peace agreement with the government and was recognised as the South Sudan Defence Forces (SSDF) in 1997. Another group formed by the same leader, the Sudan People's Democratic Front/Defence Forces (SPDF), was declared a rebel movement, but appeared to have accepted government support in 2000. 


GOVERNMENT 

National Recruitment Legislation and Practice

Article 35 (1)(b) of the new Constitution adopted in June 1998 provides, "Every citizen shall defend the country and respond to the call for national defence and national service." The National Service Law of 1992 provides that all men between 18 and 33 years old are liable for military service. Military service lasts for 24 months, 18 months for high school graduates and 12 months for university and college graduates. In 1997 the government also issued a Decree by which all boys of ages 17 to 19 were obliged to do between 12 and 18 months compulsory military service to be able to receive a certificate on leaving secondary school, which is required for entry into a university.

Child Recruitment and Deployment

Paramilitaries and armed groups aligned with the government of Sudan have a long history of forced recruitment, including of children under 18 (the youngest age recorded in the past being a child of 10 years old). The Popular Defence Forces (PDF), a militia with a formal relationship to the authorities, were reported to have recruited, often forcibly, thousands of children, although levels of child recruitment are believed to have fallen since the mid-1990s.

Tribal Militias in Western Sudan

The government has also continued its policy of arming militias of the Baggara tribes (the "murahaleen" of Western Sudan). These tribes then carry out raids into southern Sudan, primarily against the Dinkas in Bahr el Ghazal, while they are accompanying and guarding troop trains to the southern garrison town of Wau. The murahaleen are reported to have captured women and children who are then taken north where they are sold as slaves. 

Other government-allied groups

Pro-government militias in southern Sudan are also reported to use children as soldiers. Paulino Matip, in his government-armed militia, is reported to have forcibly conscripted boys as young as 10 to serve as soldiers.[1]

South Sudan Independence Movement/Army (SSIM/A)

The SSIM/A, which formed from a breakaway faction of the SPLA, entered into a peace agreement with the government and was recognised as the South Sudan Defence Forces (SSDF) in 1997. The SSDF agreed in 1998 with UNICEF and Rädda Barnen on a program of demobilisation of child soldiers. That program was underway with 280 child soldiers between the age of 10 and 18 registered and demobilised and living in a transit centre in Thonyor, near Ler, Western Upper Nile, southern Sudan, when in May 1999 fighting broke out between the SSDF and another government-controlled militia. As a result, the child soldiers scattered. Many were remobilised by the factions. In 2000, some 200 were re-demobilised and an additional 88 demobilised for the first time. They were in a transit centre in Nyal, Western Upper Nile, a stronghold of the Sudan People's Democratic Front/Defence Forces (SPDF), formed in January 2000 by the same leader, Riek Machar. The SPDF was declared a rebel movement, but appeared to have accepted government support in 2000.[2]


OPPOSITION 

Child Recruitment and Deployment

SPLA

Representatives of the SPLA have repeatedly provided assurances to the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict and the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Sudan that they would discontinue the use of child soldiers.
In early 2001, the SPLA cooperated with UNICEF and other organisations in the demobilisation of 3,200 child soldiers. The children were transported from areas in SPLA-held Bahr El Ghazal to the SPLA controlled town of Rumbek from 23 – 28 February, 2001. The evacuation followed a pledge given by SPLA Chief of Staff Salva Kiir to UNICEF to demobilise all child soldiers in the SPLA forces. The SPLA have stated that there are 7,000 more child soldiers still to be demobilised. The government of Sudan formally protested the evacuation, claiming that the airlift was conducted secretly in violation of agreements between the UN and government. The government also criticised the fact that the children were evacuated to Rumbek rather than being repatriated with their families.[3] The SPLA rationale for the airlift was that they were expecting a government dry-season offensive in the area in which child soldiers were deployed and for safety reasons would not place a demobilisation transit centre in that area. Questions have been raised by NGOs about how many of the children released were actually child soldiers.

SPLM/A

In his report to the fifty-sixth session of the Commission on Human Rights, the Special Rapporteur reported that the SPLM/A was responsible for forcibly recruiting children in December 1999 from the villages of Narus and Nimule in Eastern Equatoria.[4] Other sources also continue to report the continued use of children under the age of 18.[5]


OPPOSITION GROUPS FROM NEIGHBOURING COUNTRIES

Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda

The government of Sudan has provided military and logistical support to the Ugandan armed group Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), which is estimated to hold 6000 Ugandan children captive on government controlled territory. The LRA is infamous for forcing both boys and girls to become soldiers and to participate in acts of brutality against other children and adults. Many of the girls have been raped and become concubines of LRA fighters. Sudan and Uganda agreed in October 2000 that the LRA would be disarmed and its camps moved 1000 km from the Ugandan border, and that the abducted Ugandan children would be returned. In return, Uganda agreed to halt support for the SPLA. While the government of Sudan claims to have stopped supporting the LRA, it has not complied with this agreement. Uganda's support for the SPLA does not appear to have altered either. The government of Sudan has assisted in repatriating a small number of individuals who had escaped from the LRA: the authorities assisted child protection agencies in repatriating 105 children and adults to Uganda between November 2000 and March 2001. In March and April 2001, following a request of the UN Commission on Human Rights in 2000, a mission from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, with participation from UNICEF and the Office of the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, visited Khartoum, Nairobi, Kampala and northern Uganda to examine the issue of abducted children. 


[1] US State Department Report 2000
[2] Information provided by HRW, 3/01.
[3] Sudan Protests UNICEF Child Soldier Airlift, CNN.com, 7/3/01
[4] Report of Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Sudan, E/CN.4/2000/36 para 24
[5] HRW 2001 p.83; US State Department Report 2000.


SYRIA

SYRIAN ARAB REPUBLIC

POPULATION: 15,725,000 total, 7,739,000 under-18s
GOVERNMENT ARMED FORCES: 316,000 active, 396,000 reserves, 108,000 paramilitary
COMPULSORY RECRUITMENT AGE: 19[1]
VOLUNTARY RECRUITMENT AGE: unknown
VOTING AGE (GOVERNMENT ELECTIONS): 18
CHILD SOLDIERS: unknown
CRC-OP-CAC: not signed
OTHER TREATIES RATIFIED: CRC; GC/API

It is not known if there are any under-18s in government armed forces due to lack of information on the minimum age for voluntary recruitment. 


CONTEXT 

Syria is not engaged in any armed conflict, though Syrian armed forces are deployed in relation to Israel’s military occupation of the Golan Heights. Syrian armed forces also intervened in the Lebanese civil war in 1976 and still maintain 30,000 troops inside Lebanon.


GOVERNMENT 

National Recruitment Legislation and Practice

Article 40 of the Constitution states, "All citizens have an obligation to carry out their sacred duty to defend the security of the homeland and to respect its Constitution and the socialist union system. Military service is compulsory and is regulated by the law." Article 100 states "The President of the Republic can declare war and general mobilization and conclude peace following the approval by the People's Assembly."[2] 

The vast majority of the armed forces are raised through conscription, which has been compulsory and universal for males (only the small Jewish community is exempted) since 1946 and was officially reaffirmed by the Service of the Flag Law in 1953.[3] The legal basis for conscription is the 1953 National Service Act.[4] The minimum age for conscription is 19 years.[5] The length of military service is 30 months. Reserve duty is obligatory up to the age of 45.[6] 

Women are not required to serve, although some volunteer, playing more a public relations than military role. Males must register for the draft at 18. Each year around 125,000 reach the age of 19 which is when the 30-month conscription period begins.[7] Students are not called up until they have finished their studies and those going abroad can reportedly pay a financial contribution instead of serving the term. Some exemptions are possible for only sons or for health reasons.

It is not clear whether Syria’s armed forces accept volunteers below 18 years. After completion of his period of conscription (i.e. over 18), a man could volunteer for an additional five years in the regular service or, if he chose not to enlist, he would serve as a reservist for eighteen years. Further voluntary re-enlistment is then possible until a compulsory retirement age.[8]

Military Training and Military Schools

In 1987 there were three military schools training commissioned officers for the services: the Military Academy, the Naval Academy, and the Air Force Academy. Men from 18 to 23 could apply for admission to the school of their choice.[9]


[1] Brett and McCallin op. cit.
[2] www.uni-wuezrburg.de/law.
[3] Thomas Collelo ed., Syria A Country Study Federal Research Division Library of Congress 1987 http://lcweb2.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/
[4] Horeman and Stolwijk op. cit.
[5] Goodwin-Gill and Cohn, op. cit.
[6] IISS, p.154.
[7] Collelo.
[8] Ibid.
[9] Ibid.


TUNISIA

REPUBLIC OF TUNISIA

POPULATION: 9,460,000 total, 3,563,000 under-18s
GOVERNMENT ARMED FORCES: 35,000 active, 12,000 paramilitary
COMPULSORY RECRUITMENT AGE: 20 [1]
VOLUNTARY RECRUITMENT AGE: 18
VOTING AGE (GOVERNMENT ELECTIONS): 20
CHILD SOLDIERS: none indicated
CRC-OP-CAC: not signed
OTHER TREATIES RATIFIED: CRC; GC/API+II; ILO 138; ILO 182

There are no indications of under-18s in government armed forces. 


GOVERNMENT FORCES 

National Recruitment Legislation and Practice

Article 15 of the Constitution says that "the defence of the country and the integrity of its territory is a sacred duty of every citizen." According to Law No. 89-51 of 14 March 1989, recruitment into the armed forces is compulsory for all citizens once they have attained the age of 20. Nevertheless, voluntary recruitment is possible for every citizen who is over 18, with the consent of the legal guardian, and the approval of the Ministry of Defence.[2]

National service lasts for 12 months, including a period of training which is determined by specific rules. The recruits subsequently belong to the reserve forces for a period of 24 years. After training, it is possible for conscripted youths to be transferred to the armed forces or the 'Development Units', or to do their national service in the civil service administration, in a business or within technical co-operation (Article 3 of the Law).[3]

Military Training and Military Schools

The age requirement for entering military schools is between 18 and 23.


[1] Brett and McCallin op. cit.
[2] Article 1 and Article 27 of the Law No. 89-51 of 14/3/89.
[3] Letter from the Tunisian Ambassador to the UN in Geneva addressed to CSC, 11/1/99

TURKEY

REPUBLIC OF TURKEY

POPULATION: 65,546,000 total, 22,918,000 under-18s
GOVERNMENT ARMED FORCES: 609,700 active, 220,200 reserves, 182,200 paramilitary
COMPULSORY RECRUITMENT AGE: 19[1]
VOLUNTARY RECRUITMENT AGE: 19
VOTING AGE (GOVERNMENT ELECTIONS): 18
CHILD SOLDIERS: none indicated in government armed forces; indicated in armed groups – some 3,000 in the PKK in 1998
CRC-OP-CAC: signed on 8 September 2000; supports "straight-18" position
OTHER TREATIES RATIFIED: CRC; GC; ILO 138 

There are no indications of under-18s in government armed forces. The opposition PKK is known to recruit and deploy children under 18 years of age. In 1998, 3,000 children were said to be part of the PKK forces. There are reports of forced recruitment in Western Europe and Armenia.


CONTEXT 

There has been armed conflict in the south-east of Turkey between regular forces and armed groups operating under the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) since 1984. The conflict increased in intensity after 1989 but began to taper off after the June 1999 arrest and trial of PKK leader Abdullah Oçalan, and his order for PKK forces to cease fighting and withdraw from Turkey.


GOVERNMENT 

National Recruitment Legislation and Practice

Article 72 of the 1982 Constitution states that "[N]ational service is the right and duty of every Turk. The manner in which this service shall be performed, or considered as performed, either in the Armed Forces or in the public service shall be regulated by law".[2] The Law on Military Service (Law No. 1111) and the Law for Reserve Officers and Reserve Military Servants (Law No. 1076) regulate this service. Article 1 of the Law on Military Service specifies that all males who are citizens of the Turkish Republic must receive armed military training, irrespective of their age. According to Article 2 of the Law on Military Service, recruitment starts on the first day of January of the year in which a male reaches the age of 20 (i.e. when the candidate is 19); the same minimum age is applied for voluntary recruitment.[3]

In June 1999, the Office of the Chief of the General Staff declared that the mixed compulsory-professional military system must continue with emphasis on compulsory recruitment.[4] Postponements of and exemptions from military service are possible under the law for Turks residing in Turkey and those living abroad on payment of a fixed amount of money and performance of a two-month service in Turkey.[5] 

Military Training and Military Schools

There are several military schools in Turkey which include military high schools, colleges or military war academies. Students can apply for admission to a military school after completing their 8th year of compulsory education, i.e. once they are 15. However, they are not members of the armed forces but only prospective candidates.[6] 

There are three military colleges: the Turkish Army College, the Turkish Air Force College and the Turkish Naval College. Applicants can enter the Army College in Ankara after an orientation training for two weeks in Ankara and then for six weeks in a military training camp area located in Mentes, Izmir. Those who then want to leave can do so. [7] The application of a person under the age of 18 must be supported by a petition from his legal guardian. This will allow the cadet to be admitted to the military academy, and legally attain title of being ‘honourable member of the Turkish Armed Forces’. However military law does not apply until he turns eighteen.[8] The Air Force College is located in Istanbul.[9] Applicants must be below the age of 19 years (20 years if they graduated from a 7 or 8 years school). Those who are legally minor need to have one of their parents declaring themselves as the person responsible to the school administration. No minimum age is indicated. It is not clear from publicly available information if these cadets are members of the armed forces. The Naval Academy is located in Tuzla, 40 km from downtown Istanbul.[10] The upper age for entering this academy is 19 years (20 years for those who have a language preparatory education). No minimum age is indicated. Cadets seem to be members of the armed forces since they are subject to the existing Turkish military laws and related regulations. 

According to the authorities, however, students who join these military schools before reaching the age of 18 are only prospective candidates and have academic training in these schools: "This should not be interpreted as recruitment of underage children," according to a communication from the government.[11]


OPPOSITION[12] 

Child Recruitment and Deployment

Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK): 5,000 – 10,000 plus 50,000 militia[13]

The PKK is based in Turkey but has camps in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon and in the district of Makhmur in the Kurdish area of Iraq. Smaller camps are still operational in very mountainous terrain close to the Turkish and Iranian borders.[14] 

The PKK issued a military service law in 1990, by which every Kurdish youth aged 18 to 25 without exception was obliged to join the PKK army. But it seems that the organisation managed to recruit enough volunteers to stop compulsory recruitment. However, from 1994, it appears that the PKK started to systematically recruit more and more children and even created children's regiments. It was claimed, for example, that a children's battalion named Tabura Zaroken Sehit Agit was composed of three divisions and was, in theory at least, run by a committee of five children aged between 8 and 12 years. Both boys and girls are recruited by the PKK.[15] In 1998, it was reported that the PKK had 3,000 children within its ranks, more than 10 per cent of whom were girls. The youngest child witnessed with the PKK was 7 years old.[16]

The PKK was reported to have lost as many as 1,000 guerrillas during a battle with the Kurdish Democratic Party in 1995. Many boys and girls were among the victims, according to KDP sources.[17] In 1997, a 14-year-old girl was one of several female guerrillas taken prisoner by the Turkish army during an offensive in Turkey's Cudi mountains. She had joined the PKK the previous year and had received political and military training at a PKK camp in northern Iraq. She was a Syrian national.[18] 

Some disturbing reports have been released on recruitment practices of the PKK in Western Europe. During the summer of 1998, Rädda Barnen learnt of PKK recruitment drives in Swedish schools. Seventeen minors were invited to attend a 'summer camp' in July in northern Sweden before being recruited to serve the PKK in south-east Turkey. By mid-August 1998, only three of them had returned. Many families have reported their children missing to the police.[19]

A French magazine reported recently on the activities of the PKK in Kurdish communities living in France (about 100,000 people). The French police estimate the number of active PKK members at 300. In addition to taxes imposed on their incomes, some Kurdish families have to support the struggle by giving up their own children. Up to now, no family has formally complained to the police, instead preferring to claim that their child has run away. The PKK uses ‘cultural associations’ in order to indoctrinate these children, most during 15 days in a camp in the Larzac (South of France). The oldest have to follow the ‘big training period’ which takes place outside the child's country. There, youths receive paramilitary training and the toughest go to the frontline after a final training at the Iranian border.[20]

In Germany, the Police of Bielefeld have inquired into the activities of the PKK in Ostwestfalen-Lippe. In addition to other activities such as racketeering and drug smuggling, the PKK has also forced children, teenagers and youths to join ‘political courses’ for a few days. Sometimes these course have taken place abroad, notably in Belgium and in the Netherlands. It seems that this usually happened with the consent of parents. One girl who had been kidnapped was returned by the police after enquiries among members of the PKK. Two other children are still missing and one other child is believed to be missing. All these children are below the age of 14 years. 

Reports have been received from other cities in Germany.[21] On a number of occasions, the German NGO, the Gesellschaft für bedrohte Völker (GfbV), has denounced the abduction of children by the PKK in Germany. In Celle, for example, it was reported that Kurdish parents of children who have died in hostilities or who are still fighting have been honoured during a PKK celebration in March 1998.[22] On 22 November 1998, the criminal police of Hanover reported that three more children had been trained for guerrilla in camps in the Netherlands and Belgium.[23]

The GfbV also reported that thousands of parents in many Western countries are mourning their children who have died in combat or whose children have been abducted. It said that messages encouraging the recruitment of children have been released on MED-TV, the PKK's satellite television.[24] In Cologne, the German Coalition has been informed of a case of a 16-year-old Kurdish girl who is still missing since March 1999 after having joined a cultural meeting in a Kurdish centre. 

According to the Turkish authorities, similar abductions have also occurred in Armenia, including three children who were abducted in Yerevan.[25]

Turkish Hizbullah

Turkish Hizbullah is an Islamist armed group (not related to Lebanese Hizbullah), which operates in southeast Turkey. Hizbullah was founded in the 1980s at the height of an armed separatist Kurdish rebellion waged by the PKK. There is no evidence of the use of child soldiers by the Turkish Hizbullah.


DEVELOPMENTS 

International Standards

Turkey signed the CRC-OP-CAC on 8 September 2000 and supports a "straight-18" position.


[1] Brett and McCallin, op. cit.
[2] Constitutions of the Countries of the World, Edited & Compiled by Blaustein & Flanz, v.1-19 & sup., June 1999 release, Oceana Pub. Inc. 
[3] Communication of the Permanent Mission of Turkey to the United Nations in Geneva, to CSC, 25/11/99; information provided by UNICEF.
[4] "Turkey: General staff explains need for conscription", BBC Monitoring Service, 13/6/99.
[5] Dietzeker, J. "Geld von Dienstverweigerern für den Wiederaufbau", Sonntagszeitung, 19/9/99.
[6] Information supplied by UNICEF.
[7] http://www.kho.edu.tr/kho/index.shtml
[8] Ibid.
[9] http://www.hho.edu.tr/anasyfa.htm>.
[10] www.dho.edu.tr/english/default.htm.
[11] Permanent Mission of Turkey, 25/11/99, op. cit.
[12] The Turkish authorities declared, on a number of occasions during the European Conference on the Use of Children as Soldiers, and afterwards in a communication sent to CSC on 25/11/99 (op. cit), that it would have been better to call the PKK a terrorist organisation instead of an armed opposition group, since it has been so qualified by different Western countries. Furthermore, they consider that there is no armed conflict in Turkey but rather "acts of terror" carried out by the PKK.
[13] Waxman, D., op. cit.
[14] van Bruinessen, M., Turkey, Europe and the Kurds after the capture of Abdullah, Utrecht, 4/99.
[15] Ismet, I. G., op. cit.
[16] RB, Children of War, No. 3, Stockholm, 1998.
[17] RB, Children of War, No. 2, Stockholm, 1996.
[18] Couturier, C., "Kurdish rebels send teenagers to war: Turkish soldiers say they are gaining the initiative in the war on the south", Financial Times, 28/6/97.
[19] Ibid.
[20] Leclerc, J. M., "La diaspora kurde sous la loi du racket", Valeurs Actuelles, 27/2/99.
[21] Kubera, T. "Die kurdische Arbeiterpartei PKK: ein Bericht über Ermittlungen des polizeilichen Staatsschutzes gegen die PKK in Oswestfalen-Lippe", Kriminalistik, 1/99.
[22] "GfbV appelliert an Bundesregierung: Sorgen Sie für die Rückkehr der von der PKK in Deutschland entführten kurdischen Minderjährigen in ihren Familien!", GfbV, 23/11/98.
[23] Ibid.
[24] Ibid.
[25] Statement of the Turkish delegation to the European Conference on the Use of Children as Soldiers, Berlin, 18/10/99.

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

POPULATION: 2,398,000 total, 811,000 under-18s
GOVERNMENT ARMED FORCES: 65,000 active
COMPALSORY RECRUITMENT AGE: no conscription [1]
VOLUNTARY RECRUITMENT AGE: unknown
VOTING AGE (GOVERNMENT ELECTIONS): unknown
CHILD SOLDIERS: unknown
CRC-OP-CAC: not signed
Other treaties ratified: CRC; GC/API+II; ILO 138 

It is not known if there are under-18s in government armed forces due to lack of information on minimum voluntary recruitment age.


GOVERNMENT

National Recruitment Legislation and Practice

Conscription has never existed in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). [2] As a reaction to the invasion of Kuwait in 1990, there were proposals to introduce reservist training, but this has yet to materialise. The minimum age for voluntary recruitment is not known. Foreign volunteers form at least 30 per cent of the armed forces of the UAE. [3]


[1] Brett AND Mc Callin, op. cit.
[2] State Department, Persian Gulf States Area Handbook, Washington DC: Library of Congress, 1993.
[3] Ibid.


YEMEN

REPUBLIC OF YEMEN

POPULATION: 17, 488,000 total, 9,540,000 under-18s
GOVERNMENT ARMED FORCES: 66,300 active, 40,000 reserves, 70,000 paramilitary
COMPULSORY RECRUITMENT AGE: 18 [1]
VOLUNTARY RECRUITMENT AGE: unknown
VOTING AGE (GOVERNMENT ELECTIONS): 18
CHILD SOLDIERS: indicated in government armed forces; indicated in armed groups
CRC-OP-CAC: not signed
OTHER TREATIES RATIFIED: CRC; GC/API+II; ILO 138; ILO 182

There are indications of under-18s in government armed forces. Children reportedly participate in ongoing conflicts among tribal groups. Forced recruitment was also reported during the civil war in 1994.


CONTEXT 

North and South Yemen were unified in 1980 but the unification was threatened four years later when calls by southern leaders for secession led to a brief civil war. While the government maintained unity, it still has to deal with ongoing intra-tribal warfare, as well as kidnappings and other sabotage committed by local Islamist movements. Yemen has had border disputes with Eritrea over the Hanish islands in the Red Sea as well as with Saudi Arabia over islands to the north of Yemen.


GOVERNMENT 

National Recruitment Legislation and Practice

Conscription is not referred to directly in the Yemeni Constitution, but Article 23 states, "The law shall regulate general mobilization which shall be announced by the chairman of the Presidential Council following the approval of the House of Representatives."[2] Conscription has existed in Yemen since unification in 1990. All men between 18 and 30 are liable for military service which lasts from one to two years.[3] 

Since the conscription system is quite disorganised and birth registration is irregular, draft evasion and underage recruitment is quite common.[4] Joining the army is perceived by many as a privilege and is highly sought after since other employment opportunities are extremely limited.

Military Training and Military Schools

Military schools are for the training of officers only. There are four Military Schools: Air Force; Defense Air Force; Military College; and Navy College.

Past Child Recruitment 

During the 1994 civil war, there were many reports of the forced recruitment of children, many of whom were recruited because of their tribal affiliation.[5] In 1994 a UNICEF representative in Sana’a, Amwali said children less than 15 years old were recruited by the warring parties in Yemen.[6]


OPPOSITION 

The Aden-Abyan Islamic Army

This Islamist group has been implicated in acts of violence including kidnapping 16 western tourists in December 1998 in the Abyan province. It is not known whether children serve as soldiers in the Aden-Abyan-Islamic Army.


CHILD INVOLVEMENT IN TRIBAL CONFLICTS

According to the US State Department, "Tribal violence resulted in a number of killings and other abuses, and the government's ability to control tribal elements remained limited. In addition tensions between the government and various tribes periodically escalate into violent confrontations."[7] The tribes are responsible for kidnappings, shootings, revenge killings and other acts of violence. In one incident, 10 persons were killed and 3 injured when a fight at school between 2 children from different tribes escalated into violence. The feud between the Nehm and Al-Haymah tribes resulted in several deaths.[8]

Tribal children are taught to use weapons from an early age. Firearms are widely available and students in some rural areas take their guns to school.[9] Children are believed to be widely involved in tribal conflicts and feuds. Children in the Yemeni countryside can be seen carrying weapons and guarding Qat (a mild narcotic found in Yemen and East Africa) fields. Since most tribal conflicts start over access to Qat fields, one can assume that children are indirectly if not directly participating in tribal conflict.


[1] Brett and McCallin, op. cit.
[2] www.uni-wuerzburg.de.law/
[3] Report of the Secretary General, UN doc. E/CN.4/1997/99, op. cit.
[4] Horeman and Stolwijk op. cit.
[5] Ibid.
[6] Xinhua News Agency "UNICEF official calls for protecting Yemen’s children", 5/7/94.
[7] US State Department. 
[8] Yemen Country Reports on Human Rights Practices –2000, Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labour February 2001 
[9] Donna Abu Nasr "Weapons Abound In Yemen" AP. 22/3/00

AMMAN DECLARATION ON THE USE OF CHILDREN AS SOLDIERS

10 April 2001

Participants in the Amman Conference on the Use of Children as Soldiers, held in Amman, Jordan from 8-10 April 2001;

Deeply appreciating the call for a world free of child soldiers made by Her Majesty Queen Rania Al-Abdullah in her speech to the Conference;

Affirming that no child under 18 years should be the instrument or object of violence;

Appalled that more than 300,000 children (girls and boys) under 18 years of age are currently participating as soldiers in armed conflicts worldwide;

Recalling that all children are entitled to all the rights and freedoms in the Convention on the Rights of the Child without discrimination of any kind, irrespective of the child’s or his or her parent’s or legal guardian’s race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national, ethnic or social origin, property, disability, birth or other status;

Welcoming the adoption by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict which prohibits the use of children under the age of 18 years in armed conflicts;

Acknowledging the causes leading to armed conflict and the participation of children, including foreign occupation and forced displacement; poverty, neglect, injustice and economic disparity; lack of access to education and other opportunities; a culture of militarisation and violence, including through toys, computer games, violent films and cartoons, and media images; the proliferation of small arms; intolerance and discrimination;

Stressing the obligation of the States Parties to the four Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their Additional Protocols of 1977 to both respect and ensure respect for the provisions of these Conventions, in particular the situation of civilians in times of occupation according to the 4th Geneva Convention;

Reaffirming the UN Charter commitment "to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war" and the need to seek peaceful alternatives, promote human security and involve children in building peace and reconciliation;

Noting the UN Security Council’s call in Resolutions 1261 (28 August 1999) and 1314 (11 August 2000) for concerted international action to stop the use of children as soldiers, its strong condemnation of the targeting of children and places that have a significant presence of children, and willingness to take steps to minimise the potential harm to children when imposing sanctions;

Recalling Resolution 16/9-C(IS) on Child Care and Protection in the Islamic World of the Ninth Session of the Islamic Summit Conference in Doha, State of Qatar in November 2000 which called for "the non-involvement of (refugee) children in any armed conflict and not to enlist them in the armed forces or for any other actions which might expose their personal safety and security to danger";

Welcoming the Resolution for a Framework on the Rights of the Child adopted by the Summit of the League of Arab States in Amman in March 2001;

Welcoming the adoption of the Statute of the International Criminal Court which makes the conscripting or enlisting of children under the age of 15 years or using them to participate actively in hostilities a war crime, both in international and internal armed conflict and whether by armed forces or armed groups;

Welcoming the inclusion of forced or compulsory recruitment for use in armed conflict as one of the worst forms of child labour in ILO Convention 182;

Welcoming the entry into force of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child which prohibits all recruitment and direct participation in hostilities of children under 18 years;

Noting the UN Secretary-General’s decision that UN peacekeepers should be at least 21 and in no case less than 18 years of age;

Welcoming the declarations on the use of children as soldiers from previous regional conferences in Maputo (April 1999), Montevideo (July 1999), Berlin (October 1999) and Kathmandu (May 2000);

Mindful of preparations for the UN General Assembly Special Session on Children in September 2001 which will further underscore the international community’s resolve to protect children from all forms of exploitation, violence, discrimination and abuse;

Determined to put an end to the use of children under 18 years of age as soldiers: *


1. Solemnly declare that the use in hostilities of any child under 18 years of age by any armed force or armed group is unacceptable;

2. Urge all states to ratify or accede to the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict, without reservations and declaring at least 18 years as the minimum age for all forms of voluntary recruitment;

3. Encourage states to use the forthcoming United Nations General Assembly Special Session on Children (September 2001) as an opportunity for signature or to announce their ratification or accession to the above Optional Protocol;

4. Call upon all armed forces and armed groups to end the recruitment and use of children under 18 and to immediately demobilise or release into safety children already being used as soldiers;

5. Call upon states who have not already done so to ratify the four Geneva Conventions of 1949, the two Additional Protocols of 1977, the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol, the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, the Ottawa Landmines Treaty, the ILO Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention,182;

6. Call upon the states parties to the 4th Geneva Convention to take all necessary measures to ensure full respect for its provisions, in particular in relation to the protection of children under occupation;

7. Call upon all states to ensure the effective and universal implementation of these international standards and protection for children, including refugee and displaced girls and boys, in national legislation and practice, including through:

--Reviewing national legislation to ensure conformity with international standards;

--Criminalising the use in hostilities and recruitment of children under 18 in their national laws;

--Strengthening the international human rights mechanisms, in particular the Committee on the Rights of the Child;

--Establishing or strengthening national mechanisms for the rights of the child;

--Ensuring compulsory and comprehensive birth registration; 

8. Call upon all states to ensure the special protection of all children living under occupation, child detainees and child participants in armed conflict or civil strife, through the strict application of international human rights and humanitarian law, including international standards on juvenile justice and the use of lethal force;

9. Call upon all states and other relevant bodies to ensure the translation, raising of awareness and widespread dissemination of these standards at all levels of society and effective training of military and police personnel, peacekeepers and officials in child rights and protection, and to incorporate these into educational and military curricula;

10. Call upon all states, including those outside the region, not to supply small arms or light weapons to any government or armed group which recruits or uses children as soldiers, and to take steps to prevent individuals and companies from doing so;

11. Urge states to adopt legislation holding companies accountable for activities which directly or indirectly involve children in hostilities or military activity and call on companies to adopt and abide by codes of conduct to this effect;

12. Urge armed groups to make written commitments to abide by the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on involvement of children in armed conflict;

13. Call on religious scholars to conduct studies showing the positive role religion can play in combating child soldiering and its negative impact on children;

14. Call on religious and community leaders to promote a culture of peace, tolerance and understanding and raising awareness about the rights of the child;

15. Encourage states to enhance preventive measures for all children, especially those at risk, by addressing the causes of child soldiering, in particular poverty, discrimination, displacement, injustice and lack of education, including by:

--Creating educational and vocational opportunities

--Ensuring education for tolerance, non-discrimination and respect for others

--Empowering children to be actively engaged in community-building without resorting to violence

--Ending military training programmes for children, which encourage the militarisation of society, aggressive attitudes and entrenchment of occupation;

--Strengthening the family as the main protective unit for the child;

16. Call on the national, regional and international media to promote positive images and attitudes instead of focusing on violence;

17. Call upon all states to ensure the special needs of former child soldiers are met through effective and appropriate programmes of rehabilitation and reintegration into society, taking account of the specific needs of particular groups of children, such as girls, refugees and disabled children;

18. Call upon all governments, including those outside the region, the UN system and international institutions to provide adequate assistance to ensure the implementation of the above aims, in particular by providing short-term and long-term resources to support alternative employment and demobilization, rehabilitation and reintegration for child soldiers;

19. Request the League of Arab States, the Organization of Islamic Conference, the Gulf Cooperation Council, the Arab Maghreb Union, the Organization of African Unity, the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership and other regional bodies to endorse and work for the implementation of this Declaration;

20. Call on the Directorate of Childhood of the Arab League to promote this declaration, particularly to all participants of the meetings of the Technical Consultative Committee for the Arab Child;

21. Call upon all states, international organizations, NGOs and civil society, in particular those of the Middle East and North Africa region, to work for the implementation and monitoring of this Declaration, including through the participation of children themselves and the creation of national, regional and international networks;

22. Encourage His Majesty’s Government of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan to present this Declaration to the Human Security Network Ministerial Meeting in Petra (May 2001); and

23. Express their warm appreciation to Her Majesty Queen Rania Al-Abdullah for her patronage of and participation in this conference and to His Majesty’s Government of the Royal Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and the Jordan Institute of Diplomacy for hosting this important event.

*According to the Commentary on the Additional Protocols, recruitment covers any means (formal or de facto) by which a person becomes a member of the armed forces or an armed group, so it includes conscription (compulsory/obligatory military service), voluntary enlistment, and forced recruitment. According to the UN Conference Document A/CONF.183/2/Add.1, participation in hostilities covers both direct participation in combat and also active participation in military activities linked to combat such as scouting, spying, sabotage and the use of children as decoys, couriers or at military checkpoints and the use of children in a direct support function such as acting as bearers to take supplies to the front line, and all activities at the front line itself. 


INTERNATIONAL TREATIES RATIFICATION


 

GC 

GC-API GC-API ILO 138 ILO 182 ICC CRC CRC-OP(S)* CRC-OP(R)#
Algeria  X X X X X X X    
Bahrain X X X     X X    
Egypt X X X X     X    
Iran  X X X       X    
Iraq  X     X     X    
Israel X     X     X    
Jordan X X X X X   X X  
Kuwait  X X X X X   X    
Lebanon X           X    
Libya  X X X X X   X    
Mauritania  X           X    
Morocco X X X X X   X X  
Oman X X X       X    
Palestinian Authority 
Not UN member; endorsed CRC
Qatar  X       X   X    
Saudi Arabia  X X X       X    
Sudan  X           X    
Syria  X X         X    
Tunisia  X X X X X   X    
Turkey  X     X     X X  
United Arab Emirates  X X X X     X    

________________________________________________________________________________________________
* Signed
# Ratified
   

      


Home | About Us | Activities | Previous Activities | Resources & Links | Search | Human Security Forum | Contact Us | Questionnaire | Back to JID


Copyright © 2001 Access to Arabia. All rights reserve