Practice Relating to Rule 137. Participation of Child Soldiers in Hostilities
In 2005, 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, Viet Nam stated: “The right of children under eighteen not to … be directly involved in war … is strictly enforced.”
Viet Nam’s report concluded with the following statement: “citizens under eighteen do not participate directly in war battles except in cases of protecting the country’s independence, sovereignty, unity and integrity”.
Subsequently, the Committee on the Rights of the Child asked Viet Nam to clarify the information contained in that concluding statement.
In its response to that request, Viet Nam stated:
Para 59 of the National Report says, “Citizens under 18 do not participate directly in war battles except in cases of protecting the country’s independence, sovereignty, unity and integrity”. This is the reality of Vietnam during the two wars for national liberation and defense, namely the resistance war against the French 1946–1954 and the war against Americans in South Vietnam until 1972. There were youths and children who volunteered to participate in fighting these enemies in local areas to defend their homeland, families and themselves. This is the legitimate right of defense of each people when his or her life is at danger at any time.