Practice Relating to Rule 137. Participation of Child Soldiers in Hostilities
Ireland’s Geneva Conventions Act (1962), as amended in 1998, provides that any “minor breach” of the 1977 Additional Protocol I, including violations of Article 77(2), as well as any “contravention” of the 1977 Additional Protocol II, including violations of Article 4(3)(c), are punishable offences.
In 2006, in its initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the 2000 Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, Ireland stated:
7. All military personnel who are under 18 years of age are specifically precluded from any service abroad under the terms of the policy of the Irish Defence Forces as enunciated in Defence Forces Administrative Instructions.
8. The only theoretical situation where a person who has not attained the age of 18 years could be exposed to ‘hostilities’ would be where hostilities had broken out and were occurring within the State’s own jurisdiction i.e. within the sovereign territory of Ireland. …
9. However, as general service enlistment is immediately followed by an essential core basic training period of at least six months, before the recruit is technically ‘passed out’ as an active member of the Permanent Defence Force liable to the full normal range of military duties, the possibility of a person who has not attained the age of 18 years being exposed to any ‘hostile’ incident is virtually negligible.