Practice Relating to Rule 136. Recruitment of Child Soldiers
Uruguay’s Basic Information for the Pre-Deployment of Personnel Involved in UN Stabilization Missions (2014), in a section entitled “What is international humanitarian law?”, states:
In the workshop on pre-deployment, we will show a brief audiovisual presentation as an overview of the topic. It is important to remember that international humanitarian law (IHL) is a set of rules that, for precisely humane reasons, seeks to limit the effects of armed conflicts. It protects people not involved or no longer involved in combat and limits the means and methods of warfare. IHL is often also called “law of war” and “law of armed conflict”.
Although during peacekeeping operations or missions we are not in a traditional war scenario, we are in a place where there are conflicts of another kind and our participation may require us to apply these rules. The United Nations is clear in establishing that peacekeeping personnel are subject to and must respect and enforce the rules of IHL.
9.1 BASIC HUMANITARIAN RIGHTS
- if I am a child, not to be recruited.
In a section entitled “The protection of childhood”, the Basic Information further states:
In situations of armed conflict, children are exposed to serious violations of their rights, which demand the attention of all responsible parties in those locations, especially those who, like armed contingents in peacekeeping zones, work under the flag of the United Nations.
The issue is so important that the United Nations has set up a dedicated office, headed by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict.
The office has identified six serious violations of the human rights of children during armed conflicts. Personnel are requested to be particularly alert to these violations and to report them through the established mechanisms. …
The six serious violations are:
2. Recruitment of child soldiers (it is important to be bear in mind that this refers not only to child soldiers but also to the use of children for tasks related to armed activity including as servants, sex workers, messengers or to fulfil other activities).
4. Abduction of children (this includes human trafficking as a form of forced recruitment and sexual slavery, forcing children to work or act as prostitutes, often moving them from one country to another. If you are stationed at a border zone, we would ask you to pay special attention to this issue).
Uruguay’s Law on Cooperation with the ICC (2006) states:
26.2. Persons and objects affected by the war crimes set out in the present provision are persons and objects which international law protects in international or internal armed conflict.
26.3. The following are war crimes:
34. Conscripting or enlisting children under the age of eighteen years into the national armed forces.
Upon ratification of the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child, Uruguay stated that it “will not under any circumstances recruit persons who have not attained the age of 18 years”.
At the 27th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent in 1999, Uruguay pledged “to promote the adoption of national and international standards prohibiting the military recruitment … in armed conflicts of persons under 18 years of age”.
In 2003, upon accession to the 2000 Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, Uruguay made the following declaration:
In fulfilment of the obligation laid down in article 3, paragraph 2 of the  Optional Protocol to the  Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict [requiring States Parties to deposit a binding declaration upon ratification or accession, setting forth, inter alia, the minimum age for permitted voluntary recruitment into national armed forces], the Government of the Eastern Republic of Uruguay, in line with the reservation made at the time of depositing the instrument of ratification of the  Convention on the Rights of the Child, declares:
That in exercise of its sovereignty and in accordance with domestic law, it does not under any circumstances permit voluntary recruitment into the armed forces of persons under 18 years of age.
In 2003, in its second periodic report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Uruguay stated: “Compulsory military service has not existed in Uruguay for over 50 years. All enlistment is voluntary; it is illegal to enlist anyone under the age of 18 with no exceptions even in time of war.”
Uruguay also stated:
Uruguay ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict by Act No. 17483 on 8 May 2005. In line with the reservation entered by Uruguay at the time it ratified the Convention, recruitment into the armed forces is only possible from the age of 18.
In 2012, 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, Uruguay stated:
10. The provisions applicable for the purpose of preventing the deployment of minors under the age of 18 years in conflict zones include the rules contained in article 77.2 (Protection of Children) of [the 1977] Protocol I Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 199, approved by Act No. 15764 of 13 September 1985, whereby it is established that the parties to the conflict shall take all feasible measures to ensure that children under the age of 15 do not take a direct part in hostilities and are not recruited into the armed forces.
11. At the time it deposited its instrument of ratification of the  Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Eastern Republic of Uruguay declared “ … in regard to the provisions of article 38, paragraphs 2 [according to which States Parties have to take all feasible measures to ensure that children under 15 years of age do not take direct part in hostilities] and 3 [according to which States Parties shall refrain from recruiting persons under 15 years of age], that in accordance with Uruguayan law it would have been desirable for the lower age limit for taking a direct part in hostilities in the event of an armed conflict to be set at 18 years instead of 15 years as provided in the Convention. Furthermore, the Government of Uruguay declares that, in the exercise of its sovereign will, it will not authorize any persons under its jurisdiction who have not attained the age of 18 years to take a direct part in hostilities and will not under any circumstances recruit persons who have not attained the age of 18 years.”
12. In addition, the binding declaration made in accordance with article 3, paragraph 2, of the  Optional Protocol [on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict] establishes that: “in the exercise of its sovereign will and in accordance with Uruguayan law, it will not under any circumstances permit voluntary recruitment into its national armed forces of persons who have not attained the age of 18 years”.
13. It is worth noting that there was consensus in the political and social circles of the country with respect to the content of this declaration.
14. This position is reflected in the clause in the Code on Children and Adolescents, Act No. 17823 of 7 September 2004 (see annex II), according to which children and adolescents cannot take part in hostilities in armed conflicts or receive preparation for that purpose.
18. Uruguay has no forced recruitment or compulsory military service. Enlisting is purely voluntary, subject a minimum age of 18 years and any requirements that might arise with respect to military schools. …
20. In accordance with the declaration made by Uruguay at the time of depositing the instrument of ratification of the present Protocol … the minimum age established for voluntary recruitment is 18 years. In article 4 of Act No. 9943 of July 1940, which still applies, it is already established that the standing army is composed of contracted volunteers between the ages of 18 and 45. There is no legislation allowing any lowering of the minimum recruitment age, not even in exceptional circumstances.
21. Nevertheless, exceptionally and in very limited numbers, the military training schools may admit minors close to the age of 18, on account of the fact that admission requirements for those schools depend on the completion of academic courses that are not necessarily completed by the age of 18. In such cases only, minors under the age of 18 may acquire military status, since, under article 69 of Decree-Law No. 14157 of 21 February 1974 (see annex VI), students of the Officer Training Schools are considered as non-commissioned staff, and as such are part of the military hierarchy (art. 68) and therefore enjoy military status. In such cases, apart from the wish of the minors themselves, the prior consent of parents or guardians is required. However, the entrants are then incorporated into academic establishments and therefore do not join the forces that may be called upon to take part in hostilities, in accordance with article 13 of the above-mentioned Code on Children and Adolescents.
Uruguay further stated:
80. The Code on Children and Adolescents brings the relevant provisions into line with existing international instruments.
81. This Code applies to all persons under the age of 18, as expressed in article 1. A child (niño) is understood to mean a person up to the age of 13 and the term adolescent (adolescente) applies to persons over the age of 13 and under the age of 18, of either sex.
85. With regard to the specific theme of this Protocol [2000 Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict], article 13 [of the Code] establishes that: “Children and adolescents may not take part in hostilities in armed conflicts or receive preparation for such purpose”.