Related Rule
Belgium
Practice Relating to Rule 136. Recruitment of Child Soldiers
Belgium’s Penal Code (1867), as amended in 2003, provides:
War crimes envisaged in the 1949 [Geneva] Conventions … and in the [1977 Additional Protocols I and II] … , as well as in Article 8(2)(f) of the [1998 ICC Statute], and listed below, … constitute crimes under international law and shall be punished in accordance with the provisions of the present title … :
7. conscripting or enlisting children under the age of 15 into armed forces or armed groups. 
Belgium, Penal Code, 1867, as amended on 5 August 2003, Chapter III, Title I bis, Article 136 quater, § 1(7).
Belgium’s Law relating to the Repression of Grave Breaches of International Humanitarian Law (1993), as amended in 2003, provides:
War crimes envisaged in the 1949 [Geneva] Conventions … and in the [1977 Additional Protocols I and II] … , as well as in Article 8(2)(f) of the [1998 ICC Statute], and listed below, … constitute crimes under international law and shall be punished in accordance with the provisions of the present title … :
4 bis. conscripting or enlisting children under the age of 15 into armed forces or armed groups. 
Belgium, Law relating to the Repression of Grave Breaches of International Humanitarian Law, 1993, as amended on 23 April 2003, Article 1 ter, § 1(4 bis).
In 2002, upon ratification of the 2000 Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, Belgium declared:
In accordance with [the Optional Protocol’s] article 3, paragraph 2, and bearing in mind article 3, paragraph 5, the Government of the Kingdom of Belgium states that the minimum age for voluntary recruitment into the Belgian armed forces is not lower than 18 years. 
Belgium, Declaration made upon ratification of the 2000 Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, 6 May 2002.
In 2004, in its initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, Belgium stated:
The acquisition of military candidate status requires the individual concerned to sign an act of enlistment. The Act of [27] March 2003 [concerning the recruitment of military personnel and the status of military musicians and amending various acts applicable to national defence personnel] … stipulates that underage minors must have the consent of the person or persons having parental authority over them. Consent is issued by means of a certificate, the model for which is established by royal decree. 
Belgium, Initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, 15 August 2005, UN Doc. CRC/C/OPAC/BEL/1, submitted 30 March 2004, § 38.
In 2006, in its written replies to the questions raised by the Committee on the Rights of the Child with regard to Belgium’s initial report under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, Belgium stated:
As regards the recruitment of children under the age of 15 in the armed forces or armed groups … , article 8 of the Act of 5 August 2003 [on serious violations of international humanitarian law] … introduces a new provision into the Belgian Criminal Code (art. 136 quater, para. 1, point 7) under which such acts can be prosecuted as war crimes.
… This provision specifically covers the conscription or enlistment of children; as the recruitment of children is punishable under Belgian law, when recruitment takes place in Belgium the Belgian courts automatically have jurisdiction in the matter regardless of whether or not the act was committed by a Belgian national.
If the child is recruited abroad by a non-Belgian national, Belgium may exercise extraterritorial jurisdiction within the limits set out [in the Act of 5 August 2003]. 
Belgium, Written replies to the list of issues to be taken up in connection with the consideration of the initial report of Belgium to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, 3 April 2006, UN Doc. CRC/C/OPAC/BEL/Q/1/Add.1, submitted 30 March 2006, pp. 2–3.
In 2007, during a debate in the UN Security Council on the situation in Africa, the representative of Belgium stated: “Belgium strongly condemns … any forced recruitment, including of children, by the various rebel groups.” 
Belgium, Statement by the Deputy permanent representative of Belgium before the UN Security Council on “The situation in Africa”, 4 April 2007, p. 12.
In 2007, during a debate in the UN Security Council on peace and security in Africa, the Prime Minister of Belgium stated:
… each one of [the many thousands of tragic, shocking tales of child soldiers on the African continent today] is a stain on the soul of human civilization – an unacceptable stain that politicians cannot and must not ignore. … The international community must reach an agreement on stopping development aid to countries that use child soldiers in their army.
Offending countries must not only be named, or shamed, but must actually be punished. But above all, the offenders themselves must be put on trial. Take, for example, [Joseph] Kony, the so-called leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army of Uganda. He alone has been responsible for the abuse of almost 70,000 child soldiers on the African continent. … Let us arrest him and put him on trial and make an example of him, as a warning to all criminals that the exploitation of children in armed conflicts is not possible in this modern world. 
Belgium, Statement by the Prime Minister of Belgium before the UN Security Council on “Peace and security in Africa”, 25 September 2007, p. 12.
In 2007, at the 62nd Session of the UN General Assembly, the Belgian Minister of Foreign Affairs stated: “Conflicts affect civilian population far beyond the end of hostilities. … This is … why [Belgium] carries out an action against the recruitment … of child soldiers.” 
Belgium, Statement by the Minister of Foreign Affairs at the 62nd Session of the UN General Assembly, 1 October 2007, p. 6.