Practice Relating to Rule 137. Participation of Child Soldiers in Hostilities

Note: For practice concerning the rehabilitation and reintegration of former child soldiers, see Rule 135, Section E.
Additional Protocol I
Article 77(2) of the 1977 Additional Protocol I provides: “The Parties to the conflict shall take all feasible measures in order that children who have not attained the age of fifteen years do not take a direct part in hostilities.” 
Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts (Protocol I), Geneva, 8 June 1977, Article 77(2). Article 77 was adopted by consensus. CDDH, Official Records, Vol. VI, CDDH/SR.43, 27 May 1977, p. 251.
Additional Protocol II
Article 4(3)(c) of the 1977 Additional Protocol II provides: “Children who have not attained the age of 15 shall … [not be] allowed to take part in hostilities.” 
Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of Non-International Armed Conflicts (Protocol II), Geneva, 8 June 1977, Article 4(3)(c). Article 4 was adopted by consensus. CDDH, Official Records, Vol. VII, CDDH/SR.50, 3 June 1977, p. 90.
Convention on the Rights of the Child
Article 38(2) of the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child provides: “States Parties shall take all feasible measures to ensure that persons who have not attained the age of fifteen years do not take a direct part in hostilities.” 
Convention on the Rights of the Child, adopted by the UN General Assembly, Res. 44/25, 20 November 1989, Article 38(2).
African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child
Article 22(2) of the 1990 African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child provides: “States Parties to the present Charter shall take all necessary measures to ensure that no child shall take a direct part in hostilities.” 
African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, adopted by the Sixteenth Ordinary Session of the OAU Assembly of Heads of State and Government, Res. 197 (XVI), Monrovia, 17–20 July 1990, OAU Doc. CAB/LEG/24.9/49 (1990), Article 22(2).
ICC Statute
According to Article 8(2)(b)(xxvi) and (e)(vii) of the 1998 ICC Statute, “using [children under the age of fifteen years] to participate actively in hostilities” constitutes a war crime in both international and non-international armed conflicts. 
Statute of the International Criminal Court, adopted by the UN Diplomatic Conference of Plenipotentiaries on the Establishment of an International Criminal Court, Rome, 17 July 1998, UN Doc. A/CONF.183/9, Article 8(2)(b)(xxvi) and (e)(vii).
During the March–April 1998 session of the Preparatory Committee for the Establishment of an International Criminal Court, when the proposal for this war crime was developed, the words “using” and “participate” were explained in a footnote to provide guidance for the interpretation of the scope of this provision. This footnote read:
The words “using” and “participate” have been adopted in order to cover 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. It would not cover activities clearly unrelated to the hostilities such as food deliveries to an airbase or the use of domestic staff in an officer’s married accommodation. However, use of children in a direct support function such as acting as bearers to take supplies to the front line, or activities at the front line itself, would be included within the terminology. 
Roy S. Lee (ed.), The International Criminal Court. The Making of the Rome Statute: Issues, Negociations, Results, Kluwer Law International, The Hague, 1999, p. 118.
Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict
The 2000 Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict provides:
Article 1
States Parties shall take all feasible measures to ensure that members of their armed forces who have not attained the age of 18 years do not take a direct part in hostilities.
Article 4
1. Armed groups that are distinct from the armed forces of a State should not, under any circumstances, … use in hostilities persons under the age of 18 years.
2. States Parties shall take all feasible measures to prevent such … use, including the adoption of legal measures necessary to prohibit and criminalize such practices. 
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, Res. 54/263, 25 May 2000, Annex I, Articles 1 and 4.
Statute of the Special Court for Sierra Leone
Article 4(c) of the 2002 Statute of the Special Court for Sierra Leone provides:
The Special Court shall have the power to prosecute persons who committed the following serious violations of international humanitarian law: … using [children under the age of 15 years] … to participate actively in hostilities. 
Statute of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, annexed to the 2002 Agreement on the Special Court for Sierra Leone, Freetown, 16 January 2002, annexed to Letter dated 6 March 2002 from the UN Secretary-General to the President of the UN Security Council, UN Doc. S/2002/246, 8 March 2002, p. 29, Article 4(c).
Kampala Convention
Article 9(1) of the 2009 Kampala Convention states:
States Parties shall protect the rights of internally displaced persons regardless of the cause of displacement by refraining from, and preventing, the following acts, amongst others:
d. … use [of children] in hostilities. 
African Union Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa, adopted in Kampala, Uganda, 23 October 2009, Article 9(1)(d).
A corresponding obligation for members of armed groups, defined as “dissident armed forces or other organized armed groups that are distinct from the armed forces of the state”, can be found in Article 7(5)(e) of the Convention: “Members of the armed groups shall be prohibited from: … requiring or permitting [children] to take part in hostilities under any circumstances”. 
African Union Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa, adopted in Kampala, Uganda, 23 October 2009, Article 7(5)(e).
Memorandum of Understanding on the Application of IHL between Croatia and the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
Paragraph 4 of the 1991 Memorandum of Understanding on the Application of IHL between Croatia and the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia requires that all civilians be treated in accordance with Article 77 of the 1977 Additional Protocol I. 
Memorandum of Understanding on the Application of International Humanitarian Law between Croatia and the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Geneva, 27 November 1991, § 4.
Agreement on the Application of IHL between the Parties to the Conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Paragraph 2.3 of the 1992 Agreement on the Application of IHL between the Parties to the Conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina requires that all civilians be treated in accordance with Article 77(2) of the 1977 Additional Protocol I.  
Agreement between Representatives of Mr. Alija Izetbegović (President of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina and President of the Party of Democratic Action), Representatives of Mr. Radovan Karadžić (President of the Serbian Democratic Party), and Representative of Mr. Miljenko Brkić (President of the Croatian Democratic Community), Geneva, 22 May 1992, § 2.3.
Algiers Declaration
In paragraph 16 of the 1999 Algiers Declaration, the OAU Assembly of Heads of State and Government reaffirmed its “determination to work relentlessly towards the promotion of the Rights and Welfare of the Child, and [its] commitment to combat all forms of child exploitation, and, in particular, put an end to the phenomenon of child soldiers”. 
Algiers Declaration, adopted by the 35th Ordinary Session of the OAU Heads of State and Government, Decl. 1 (XXXV), Algiers, 12–14 July 1999, § 16.
UNTAET Regulation No. 2000/15
The UNTAET Regulation No. 2000/15 establishes panels with exclusive jurisdiction over serious criminal offences, including war crimes. According to Section 6(1)(b)(xxvi) and (e)(vii), “using [children under the age of 15 years] to participate actively in hostilities” constitutes a war crime in both international and non-international armed conflicts. 
Regulation on the Establishment of Panels with Exclusive Jurisdiction over Serious Criminal Offences, UN Doc. UNTAET/REG/2000/15, Dili, 6 June 2000, Section 6(1)(b)(xxvi) and (e)(vii).
N’Djamena Declaration on Ending Recruitment and Use of Children by Armed Forces and Groups
In June 2010, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, Nigeria, Niger and Sudan adopted the N’Djamena Declaration. In its preamble, the participating States reiterated their “concern regarding the precarious situation of children affected by conflict and the consistent presence of children within armed forces and groups in [their] region” and recalled
[t]he Additional Protocols to the four Geneva Conventions of 1949 prohibiting the … direct participation of children who have not attained the age of 15 years in armed conflicts;
[t]he Convention on the Rights of the Child of 1989 prohibiting … active participation of children under 15 in hostilities, its Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict, establishing the legal age of … direct participation of children in hostilities at 18 … ;
UN Security Council resolutions … and [resolutions] of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union that condemned the … use of children in armed conflict, and called to end it. 
N’Djamena Declaration adopted at the Regional Conference on Ending Recruitment and Use of Children by Armed Forces and Groups: Contributing to Peace, Justice and Development, signed by Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, Nigeria, Niger and Sudan, N’Djamena, 7–9 June 2010, Preamble.
The participating States also recognized that
States have the primary responsibility of ensuring, without discrimination, the security and protection of all children living on their national territory, and that no territory should be used in any form for recruitment of children by armed forces or groups. 
N’Djamena Declaration adopted at the Regional Conference on Ending Recruitment and Use of Children by Armed Forces and Groups: Contributing to Peace, Justice and Development, signed by Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, Nigeria, Niger and Sudan, N’Djamena, 7–9 June 2010, Preamble.
The participating States further pledged
1. To put an end to all forms of … involvement of children by armed forces and armed groups and ensure that no child under the age of 18 takes direct or indirect part in hostilities, and prevent all kinds of … use of children in all situations;
2. To harmonize national legislations with regional and international instruments in order to prohibit the … use of children by armed forces and armed groups, and prosecute perpetrators before competent courts. 
N’Djamena Declaration adopted at the Regional Conference on Ending Recruitment and Use of Children by Armed Forces and Groups: Contributing to Peace, Justice and Development, signed by Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, Nigeria, Niger and Sudan, N’Djamena, 7–9 June 2010, §§ 1 and 2.
Argentina
Argentina’s Law of War Manual (1989) provides: “The belligerent parties shall take all measures to ensure that children under the age of 15 do not participate directly in hostilities.” 
Argentina, Leyes de Guerra, PC-08-01, Público, Edición 1989, Estado Mayor Conjunto de las Fuerzas Armadas, aprobado por Resolución No. 489/89 del Ministerio de Defensa, 23 April 1990, § 4.12.
With respect to non-international armed conflicts in particular, the manual states: “Children under the age of 15 shall not … be authorized to participate in hostilities.” 
Argentina, Leyes de Guerra, PC-08-01, Público, Edición 1989, Estado Mayor Conjunto de las Fuerzas Armadas, aprobado por Resolución No. 489/89 del Ministerio de Defensa, 23 April 1990, § 7.04.
Australia
Australia’s Defence Force Manual (1994) provides: “Children are granted special protection under LOAC. Important rules are shown below: … children under 15 years of age should not take a direct part in hostilities.” 
Australia, Manual on Law of Armed Conflict, Australian Defence Force Publication, Operations Series, ADFP 37 – Interim Edition, 1994, § 947.
Australia
Australia’s Defence Instructions (General) (2005) states:
11. … [A]ll feasible measures are to be taken to ensure that minors are not deployed to an area of hostilities. That is, to the maximum extent possible, and where it will not adversely impact on the conduct of operations, minors should not be deployed into areas of operations where there is a likelihood of hostile action.
12. Where a minor is on the strength of a unit that is required to deploy to an area of hostility, that minor is not to deploy with the unit. In the case of a unit that is in transit or on exercise, and is required to deploy at short notice, minors in that unit must be returned to a safe area without undue delay.
13. A commander is not obliged to remove a minor from direct participation in hostilities where:
a. circumstances beyond the control of the commander do not permit removal,
b. where it would be more dangerous to the minor to attempt to do so, or
c. where it would prejudice the effectiveness of the mission.
However, nothing in this paragraph relieves a commander of the obligation to do everything possible within their power to prevent minors from participating directly in hostilities.
14. There should be very few circumstances in which the above requirement could not be met. The most obvious exception relates to Navy. Where a minor is serving in a ship that is diverted at short notice to an area of hostility, and it is not possible for that minor to be landed at the nearest safe port prior to the vessel continuing to the area of operations, that minor is to remain with their ship. 
Australia, Defence Instructions (General) PERS 33-4, Recruitment and employment of members under 18 years in the Australian Defence Force, Department of Defence, Canberra, 4 July 2005, §§ 11–14.
Australia
Australia’s LOAC Manual (2006) states that “children under 18 years of age should not take a direct part in hostilities”. 
Australia, The Manual of the Law of Armed Conflict, Australian Defence Doctrine Publication 06.4, Australian Defence Headquarters, 11 May 2006, § 9.50.
The LOAC Manual (2006) replaces both the Defence Force Manual (1994) and the Commanders’ Guide (1994).
Australia
Australia’s Defence Instructions (General) (2008) states:
Deployment into hostilities
47. In accordance with Defence’s obligations under the Protocol [2000] Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict], Services must take all feasible measures to ensure that minors do not participate in hostilities. That is, to the maximum extent possible, and where it will not adversely impact on the conduct of operations, minors should not be deployed into areas of operations where there is a likelihood of hostile action.
48. Where a minor is part of a unit that is required to deploy to an area of hostility, that minor is not to deploy with the unit. In the case of a unit that is in transit or on exercise, and is required to deploy at short notice, minors in that unit must be returned to a safe area without undue delay.
49. A CO [commanding officer] is not obliged to remove a minor from direct participation in hostilities where:
a. circumstances beyond the control of the CO do not permit removal,
b. it would be more dangerous to the minor to attempt to do so, or
c. it would prejudice the effectiveness of the mission.
50. However, nothing in paragraph 49. relieves a CO of the obligation to do everything possible within their power to prevent minors from participating directly in hostilities. 
Australia, Defence Instructions (General) PERS 33-4, Management and administration of Australian Defence Force members under 18 years of age, Department of Defence, Canberra, 22 April 2008, §§ 47–50.
In the list of definitions provided with the Defence Instructions (General), a “minor” is defined as “a person under the age of 18 years”. 
Australia, Defence Instructions (General) PERS 33-4, Management and administration of Australian Defence Force members under 18 years of age, Department of Defence, Canberra, 22 April 2008, Annex A.
This edition of the Defence Instructions (General) replaces the Defence Instructions (General) (2005).
Cameroon
Cameroon’s Instructor’s Manual (2006) states that “children below the age of 15 … cannot be recruited into the Armed Forces”. 
Cameroon, Droit des conflits armés et droit international humanitaire, Manuel de l’instructeur en vigueur dans les forces de défense, Ministère de la Défense, Présidence de la République, Etat-major des Armées, 2006, p. 90, § 351.5.
The manual also states: “Parties to the conflict are obliged not to engage children under the age of fifteen in direct participation in hostilities …”. 
Cameroon, Droit des conflits armés et droit international humanitaire, Manuel de l’instructeur en vigueur dans les forces de défense, Ministère de la Défense, Présidence de la République, Etat-major des Armées, 2006, p. 29, § 131; see also p. 49, § 213, p. 75, § 321 and p. 132, § 411.5
Canada
Canada’s LOAC Manual (1999) provides, with respect to non-international armed conflicts in particular: “Children are to receive such aid and protection as required including: … a ban on their … participation in the hostilities while under the age of fifteen”. 
Canada, The Law of Armed Conflict at the Operational and Tactical Level, Office of the Judge Advocate General, 1999, p. 17-3, § 22.
The manual adds: “Children under fifteen who do take part in hostilities remain protected.” 
Canada, The Law of Armed Conflict at the Operational and Tactical Level, Office of the Judge Advocate General, 1999, p. 17-3, § 23.
Canada
Canada’s LOAC Manual (2001) states in its chapter on non-international armed conflicts:
1. [The 1977 Additional Protocol II] provides that children are to receive such aid and protection as required including:
c. a ban on their enlistment or participation in the hostilities while under the age of fifteen.
2. Children under fifteen who do take part in hostilities remain protected. 
Canada, The Law of Armed Conflict at the Operational and Tactical Levels, Office of the Judge Advocate General, 13 August 2001, § 1714.1.c and 2.
Colombia
Colombia’s Basic Military Manual (1995) provides, with respect to non-international armed conflicts in particular, that it is prohibited to “allow direct participation in hostilities of children under the age of 15”. 
Colombia, Derecho Internacional Humanitario – Manual Básico para las Personerías y las Fuerzas Armadas de Colombia, Ministerio de Defensa Nacional, 1995, p. 75.
Côte d’Ivoire
Côte d’Ivoire’s Teaching Manual (2007) provides in Book III, Volume 1 (Instruction of first-year trainee officers):
III.1.3. Children
One of the especially tragic aspects of modern conflicts is the active participation of children (boys and girls) in hostilities. This phenomenon seems to be linked less to cultural traditions than to reasons of opportunism or lack of soldiers; in many cases, these arguments are only excuses or forms of abuse from the side of the authorities, which force children to do the work of adults.
These child soldiers only have a rudimentary education or no education at all and are often under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Of course, they can constitute valorous and formidable enemies. In that case, they must be fought just like all combatants.
However, in case of capture, they must be treated with special consideration. The treatment of children aged between 15 and 18 years must be as close as possible to that of children under 15 years. 
Côte d’Ivoire, Droit de la guerre, Manuel d’instruction, Livre III, Tome 1: Instruction de l’élève officier d’active de 1ère année, Manuel de l’élève, Ministère de la Défense, Forces Armées Nationales, November 2007, p. 44; see also Droit de la guerre, Manuel d’instruction, Livre III, Tome 2: Instruction de l’élève officier d’active de 2ème année, Manuel de l’instructeur, Ministère de la Défense, Forces Armées Nationales, November 2007, p. 26; Droit de la guerre, Manuel d’instruction, Livre IV: Instruction du chef de section et du commandant de compagnie, Manuel de l’élève, Ministère de la Défense, Forces Armées Nationales, November 2007, p. 19.
In Book III, Volume 2 (Instruction of second-year trainee officers), the Teaching Manual provides:
I.1.3. Children
By “child”, one generally means any person who has not attained the age of 18 years. However, in the law of armed conflicts, different provisions apply to children of less than 15 years and to those between 15 and 18 years.
Additional Protocol I specifies that children have the right to the care and aid they require because of their age. Children who have not attained the age of 15 years must not be recruited into the armed forces, nor directly participate in hostilities. 
Côte d’Ivoire, Droit de la guerre, Manuel d’instruction, Livre III, Tome 2: Instruction de l’élève officier d’active de 2ème année, Manuel de l’instructeur, Ministère de la Défense, Forces Armées Nationales, November 2007, p. 22; see also Droit de la guerre, Manuel d’instruction, Livre IV: Instruction du chef de section et du commandant de compagnie, Manuel de l’élève, Ministère de la Défense, Forces Armées Nationales, November 2007, p. 32.
Djibouti
Djibouti’s Manual on International Humanitarian Law (2004) states that “children below the age of fifteen may not be authorized to participate in hostilities”. 
Djibouti, Manuel sur le droit international humanitaire et les droits de l’homme applicables au travail du policier, Ministère de l’Intérieur, Direction Générale de la Police, 2004, p. 25.
France
France’s LOAC Manual (2001) provides: “Only children aged at least 15 can participate in hostilities.” It adds: “To make them participate directly in hostilities is a war crime.” The manual states, however: “A child who does take part in an armed conflict shall benefit, because of his military activity, from the status of combatant and of prisoner of war in case of capture.” 
France, Manuel de droit des conflits armés, Ministère de la Défense, Direction des Affaires Juridiques, Sous-Direction du droit international humanitaire et du droit européen, Bureau du droit des conflits armés, 2001, p. 40; see also p. 63.
Germany
Germany’s Military Manual (1992) provides: “The parties to the conflict shall take all feasible measures in order that children who have not attained the age of fifteen years do not take direct part in hostilities.” 
Germany, Humanitarian Law in Armed Conflicts – Manual, DSK VV207320067, edited by The Federal Ministry of Defence of the Federal Republic of Germany, VR II 3, August 1992, English translation of ZDv 15/2, Humanitäres Völkerrecht in bewaffneten Konflikten – Handbuch, August 1992, § 306; see also § 505.
Mexico
Mexico’s Army and Air Force Manual (2009), in a section on the 1949 Geneva Convention IV, states: “All practicable measures must be taken to prevent children under the age of 15 from taking a direct part in the hostilities”. 
Mexico, Manual de Derecho Internacional Humanitario para el Ejército y la Fuerza Área Mexicanos, Ministry of National Defence, June 2009, § 215.
Netherlands
The Military Manual (1993) of the Netherlands provides: “The parties to the conflict shall take all feasible measures in order that children who have not attained the age of 15 years do not take a direct part in hostilities.” 
Netherlands, Toepassing Humanitair Oorlogsrecht, Voorschift No. 27-412/1, Koninklijke Landmacht, Ministerie van Defensie, 1993, p. VIII-3; see also p. III-2, § 1.
Netherlands
The Military Manual (2005) of the Netherlands states: “Parties to a conflict should ensure that children under the age of 15 play no direct part in hostilities.” 
Netherlands, Humanitair Oorlogsrecht: Handleiding, Voorschift No. 27-412, Koninklijke Landmacht, Militair Juridische Dienst, 2005, § 0309.
In its chapter on the protection of the civilian population, the manual states that “[t]he parties to a conflict should take measures in order that children under the age of 15 do not take a direct part in hostilities”. 
Netherlands, Humanitair Oorlogsrecht: Handleiding, Voorschift No. 27-412, Koninklijke Landmacht, Militair Juridische Dienst, 2005, § 0811.
In its chapter on non-international armed conflict, the manual states:
1060. Children must receive the care and help that they need.
1061. This involves … not allowing them to participate in the hostilities. 
Netherlands, Humanitair Oorlogsrecht: Handleiding, Voorschift No. 27-412, Koninklijke Landmacht, Militair Juridische Dienst, 2005, §§ 1060–1061.
New Zealand
New Zealand’s Military Manual (1992) provides, with respect to non-international armed conflicts in particular, that children “are to receive such aid and protection as they require, including … a ban on their … participation in the hostilities while under the age of fifteen”. Referring to Article 4(3) of the 1977 Additional Protocol II, it adds: “Children under the age of fifteen who do in fact take part in hostilities remain protected by the Article.” 
New Zealand, Interim Law of Armed Conflict Manual, DM 112, New Zealand Defence Force, Headquarters, Directorate of Legal Services, Wellington, November 1992, § 1813(1).
Nigeria
Nigeria’s Military Manual (1994) deplores the fact that in past and current armed conflicts, such as those in Liberia, Chad, the Middle East or in Biafra, “children below the ages of 12 and 13 were used for the prosecution of the conflicts”. 
Nigeria, International Humanitarian Law (IHL), Directorate of Legal Services, Nigerian Army, 1994, p. 33, § 11.
Philippines
The Philippine Army Soldier’s Handbook on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (2006) provides:
While not in combat:
4. Do not allow any person below 18 years old to take part in the armed conflict. Children shall be considered as zones of peace and shall enjoy the protection of the State against dangers arising from an armed conflict. Children shall not be recruited or employed by the government forces to perform or engage in activity necessary to and in direct connection with an armed conflict either as a soldier, guide, courier or in a similar capacity which would result in his being identified as an active member of an organized group that is hostile to the government forces. 
Philippines, Philippine Army Soldier’s Handbook on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law, A Practical Guide for Internal Security Operations, 2006, p. 55, § 4.
In its glossary, the Handbook further notes:
Children – refers to persons below 18 years of age or those over but unable to fully take care of themselves or protect themselves from abuse, neglect, cruelty, exploitation or discrimination because of a physical or mental disability or condition. 
Philippines, Philippine Army Soldier’s Handbook on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law, A Practical Guide for Internal Security Operations, 2006, p. 67, Glossary.
Russian Federation
The Russian Federation’s Regulations on the Application of IHL (2001) states with regard to internal armed conflict:
Children who have not attained the age of fifteen years shall neither be recruited in the armed forces or groups nor allowed to take part in hostilities. Children shall be provided with necessary care and assistance. Protection shall remain applicable to them even if they take a direct part in hostilities and are captured. 
Russian Federation, Regulations on the Application of International Humanitarian Law by the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation, Moscow, 8 August 2001, § 81.
Spain
Spain’s LOAC Manual (2007) states that: “States are bound to adopt penal legislation to prevent the … use of children under the age of eighteen in armed conflicts.” 
Spain, Orientaciones. El Derecho de los Conflictos Armados, Tomo 1, Publicación OR7–004, (Edición Segunda), Mando de Adiestramiento y Doctrina, Dirección de Doctrina, Orgánica y Materiales, 2 November 2007, § 1.3.c.(1).
Ukraine
Ukraine’s IHL Manual (2004) states:
As concerns children, international humanitarian law envisages the following:
- children who have not attained the age of fifteen years shall not be allowed to take part in hostilities. 
Ukraine, Manual on the Application of IHL Rules, Ministry of Defence, 11 September 2004, § 1.4.11.
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
The UK LOAC Manual (2004) states in its chapter on the protection of civilians in the hands of a party to the conflict:
Steps must be taken to ensure that those aged under fifteen years are not recruited into the armed forces and do not take a direct part in hostilities. … If children under fifteen years do take a direct part in hostilities, they do not lose the protection of this paragraph even if they are also classified as prisoners of war. 
United Kingdom, The Manual of the Law of Armed Conflict, Ministry of Defence, 1 July 2004, § 9.9.1.
With regard to internal armed conflict, the manual states:
15.7. It is prohibited to conscript or enlist “children under the age of fifteen years into armed forces or groups” or to use them “to participate actively in hostilities”.
15.7.1. Recent internal conflicts, particularly in West Africa, have been marked by the recruitment, arming and deployment on military missions of children, many of whom have been involved in the commission of atrocities. Such recruitment and use is a war crime under the Rome Statute [of the International Criminal Court]. 
United Kingdom, The Manual of the Law of Armed Conflict, Ministry of Defence, 1 July 2004, §§ 15.7–15.7.1.
Australia
Australia’s Criminal Code Act (1995), as amended to 2007, states with respect to serious war crimes that are committed in the course of an international armed conflict:
268.68 War crime – using, conscripting or enlisting children
National armed forces
(1) A person (the perpetrator) commits an offence if:
(a) the perpetrator uses one or more persons to participate actively in hostilities as members of the national armed forces; and
(b) the person or persons are under the age of 15 years; and
(c) the perpetrator’s conduct takes place in the context of, and is associated with, an international armed conflict.
Penalty: Imprisonment for 17 years.
Other armed forces and groups
(4) A person (the perpetrator) commits an offence if:
(a) the perpetrator uses one or more persons to participate actively in hostilities other than as members of the national armed forces; and
(b) the person or persons are under the age of 18 years; and
(c) the perpetrator’s conduct takes place in the context of, and is associated with, an international armed conflict.
Penalty: Imprisonment for 17 years. 
Australia, Criminal Code Act, 1995, as amended to 2007, Chapter 8, § 268.68, pp. 345–347.
The Criminal Code Act also states with respect to war crimes that are other serious violations of the laws and customs applicable in a non-international armed conflict:
268.88 War crime – using, conscripting or enlisting children
National armed forces
(1) A person (the perpetrator) commits an offence if:
(a) the perpetrator uses one or more persons to participate actively in hostilities as members of the national armed forces; and
(b) the person or persons are under the age of 15 years; and
(d) the perpetrator’s conduct takes place in the context of, and is associated with, an armed conflict that is not an international armed conflict.
Penalty: Imprisonment for 17 years.
Other armed forces and groups
(4) A person (the perpetrator) commits an offence if:
(a) the perpetrator uses one or more persons to participate actively in hostilities other than as members of the national armed forces; and
(b) the person or persons are under the age of 18 years; and
(c) the perpetrator’s conduct takes place in the context of, and is associated with, an armed conflict that is not an international armed conflict.
Penalty: Imprisonment for 17 years. 
Australia, Criminal Code Act, 1995, as amended to 2007, Chapter 8, § 268.88, pp. 363–365.
Australia
Australia’s ICC (Consequential Amendments) Act (2002) incorporates in the Criminal Code the war crimes defined in the 1998 ICC Statute, including the use of one or more persons under the age of 15 years “to participate actively in hostilities” in both international and non-international armed conflicts. 
Australia, ICC (Consequential Amendments) Act, 2002, Schedule 1, §§ 268.68 and 268.88.
Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan’s Law on the Rights of the Child (1998) states: “Direct participation in military operations of children under 15 years old is prohibited”. 
Azerbaijan, Law on the Rights of the Child, 1998, Article 37.
Belarus
Belarus’s Law on the Rights of the Child (1993) provides that it is prohibited “to make children participate in hostilities and armed conflicts”. 
Belarus, Law on the Rights of the Child, 1993, Article 29.
Belarus
Belarus’s Criminal Code (1999) provides that it is a war crime to allow children under the age of 15 years to take part in hostilities. 
Belarus, Criminal Code, 1999, Article 136(5).
Belgium
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. … using [children under the age of 15] to participate actively in hostilities. 
Belgium, Penal Code, 1867, as amended on 5 August 2003, Chapter III, Title I bis, Article 136 quater, § 1(7).
Belgium
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. … using [children under the age of 15] to participate actively in hostilities. 
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).
Burundi
Burundi’s Law on Genocide, Crimes against Humanity and War Crimes (2003) states:
[The following are] considered as war crimes:
B. Other serious violations of the laws and customs applicable in international armed conflicts, within the established framework of international law, namely, any of the following acts:
y) … using [children under the age of fifteen years] to actively participate in hostilities;
D. Other serious violations of the laws and customs applicable in armed conflicts not of an international character, within the established framework of international law, namely, any of the following acts:
g) … using [children under the age of fifteen years] to actively participate in hostilities. 
Burundi, Law on Genocide, Crimes against Humanity and War Crimes, 2003, Article 4(B)(y) and (D)(g).
Burundi
Burundi’s Penal Code (2009) states:
“War crimes” means crimes which are committed as part of a plan or policy or as part of a large-scale commission of such crimes, in particular:
2. … [S]erious violations of the laws and customs applicable in international armed conflict, within the established framework of international law, namely, any of the following acts:
27°. … [U]sing … [children under the age of fifteen years] to participate actively in hostilities.
5. … [S]erious violations of the laws and customs applicable in armed conflicts not of an international character, within the established framework of international law, namely, any of the following acts:
7°. … [U]sing … [children under the age of fifteen years] to participate actively in hostilities. 
Burundi, Penal Code, 2009, Article 198(2)(27°) and (5)(7°).
Canada
Canada’s National Defence Act (1985) states: “A person who is under the age of eighteen years may not be deployed by the Canadian Forces to a theatre of hostilities.” 
Canada, National Defence Act, 1985, Section 34.
Canada
Canada’s Crimes against Humanity and War Crimes Act (2000) provides that the war crimes defined in Article 8(2) of the 1998 ICC Statute are “crimes according to customary international law” and, as such, indictable offences under the Act. 
Canada, Crimes against Humanity and War Crimes Act, 2000, Section 4(1) and (4).
Central African Republic
The Central African Republic’s Labour Code (2009) states that “worst forms of child labour include … forced or compulsory labour, including the forced or compulsory recruitment of children in view of their use in armed conflict”. 
Central African Republic, Labour Code, 2009, Article 262.
The Code also states: “The worst forms of child labour are prohibited in the entire Central African Republic.” 
Central African Republic, Labour Code, 2009, Article 263.
The Code further states: “In the present Code, … CHILD [means]: every person under the age of 18”. 
Central African Republic, Labour Code, 2009, Article 3.
Chad
Chad’s Presidential Directive on Respect of Age Requirements for Recruitment into Chad’s National Army (2013) states:
1. PREAMBLE
… [T]he Government of the Republic of Chad adhered to the principles of the [2000] Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, as well as to the [2007] Paris Principles and Commitments.
In order to guarantee respect for its commitments and to create definitively an environment that saves children from recruitments and any form of use by the armed and security forces of Chad, the present directive provides clear and precise guidelines and instructions to be respected without fault, subject to sanctions stipulated in the laws and regulations governing the armed and security forces of Chad and those relating to child protection.
3. DEFINITIONS
3.1. Child
Child means every human being below the age of eighteen years unless, under the law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier (Article 1 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child).
3.2. Child Associated with Armed Forces or Armed Groups (CAAFAG)
Any person below eighteen years of age who is or who has been recruited or used by an armed force or armed group in any capacity, including therefore but not limited to a child, girl or boy, used as fighter, cook, porter, messenger, spy or for sexual purposes. This term does not only refer to a child who is taking or has taken a direct part in hostilities (Principles and Guidelines on Children Associated with Armed Forces or Armed Groups).
4. RESPECT OF THE CONDITIONS FOR RECRUITMENT
4.1. Provisions on verification of the recruitment age
Recruitment into the Chadian National Army is done in accordance with the Ordinance No. 006/PR/1992 and the laws No. 11 and 12/PR/2006. For strict respect of these fundamental documents of the Chadian National Army, the following implementing measures will henceforth be in place:
4.1.1 The personnel responsible for the recruitment will beforehand receive training about the rights and protection of children in armed conflicts;
4.1.2 All the personnel responsible for the recruitment will have at their disposal a copy of the Recruitment Procedure Handbook drafted for this purpose;
4.1.3 The recruitment team will proceed with recruitment on the basis of a birth certificate, which is the only valid document for age verification and confirmation. Candidates that do not have such a certificate will be recruited only after a systematic verification of their age through a medical examination, physical check and a personal interview, in case of serious doubt about their age[.]
Registration and drawing up of documents proving identity of all children in accordance with Chad’s Civil Status Act, are indispensable for the prevention of their illegal recruitment and use by the armed forces and armed groups in the territory of Chad.
4.2 Sanctions
4.2.1. With regard to the government’s commitments, I ask you to instruct all members of the armed forces and security forces that any person found guilty of recruitment and use of children in Chad’s armed or security forces will face severe disciplinary and penal sanctions. 
Chad, Presidential Directive on Respect of Age Requirements for Recruitment into Chad’s National Army, 2013, Articles 1, 3.1–3.2, 4.1 and 4.2.1.
Chad
Chad’s Ordinance on the Prohibition and Repression of the Enlistment and Use of Children in Armed Conflict (2014) states: “No child must participate, nor be involved in an armed conflict, or be enlisted in armed forces or groups, in whatever way.” 
Chad, Ordinance on the Prohibition and Repression of the Enlistment and Use of Children in Armed Conflict, 2014, Article 1.
Colombia
Colombia’s Law on Judicial Cooperation (1997) states that children under 18 may not be sent to participate in actual military activities.  
Colombia, Law on Judicial Cooperation, 1997, Articles 13–14.
Colombia
Colombia’s Penal Code (2000) imposes a criminal sanction on “anyone, who, in period of armed conflict, … forces [minors under 18 years of age] to participate directly or indirectly in the hostilities or armed operations”. 
Colombia, Penal Code, 2000, Article 162.
Congo
The Congo’s Genocide, War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity Act (1998) defines war crimes with reference to the categories of crimes defined in Article 8 of the 1998 ICC Statute. 
Congo, Genocide, War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity Act, 1998, Article 4.
Croatia
Croatia’s Criminal Code (1997), as amended to 2006, states that it is a war crime to “order … [the] active participation [of children under fifteen years of age] in hostilities”. 
Croatia, Criminal Code, 1997, as amended to June 2006, Article 158(1).
Democratic Republic of the Congo
The Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Law on Child Protection (2009) states:
Article 2
For the purpose of the present law, it is understood as:
1. child: every person under the age of 18;
Article 53
The worst forms of child labour are prohibited.
The worst forms of child labour include:
b) the forced or compulsory recruitment of children in view of their use in armed conflict.
Article 71
The enlistment and use of children in armed forces and groups, as well as in the police, are prohibited.
The State ensures the demobilization of children enlisted or used in armed forces and groups, as well as in the police …
Article 81
The National Committee to combat the worst forms of child labour has the following mission:
1. to develop a national strategy for the eradication of the worst forms of child labour;
2. to ensure the follow-up of the implementation of the strategy is implemented and to evaluate the degree of application of the measures prescribed.
Article 187
… [T]he enlistment or use of children under the age of 18 years in armed forces and groups, as well as in the police, is punishable by between ten to twenty years’ imprisonment. 
Democratic Republic of the Congo, Law on Child Protection, 2009, Articles 2(1), 53(b), 71, 81(1)–(2) and 187.
Denmark
Denmark’s Military Criminal Code (1973), as amended in 1978, provides:
Any person who uses war instruments or procedures the application of which violates an international agreement entered into by Denmark or the general rules of international law, shall be liable to the same penalty [i.e. a fine, lenient imprisonment or up to 12 years’ imprisonment]. 
Denmark, Military Criminal Code, 1973, as amended in 1978, § 25(1).
Denmark’s Military Criminal Code (2005) provides:
Any person who deliberately uses war means [“krigsmiddel”] or procedures the application of which violates an international agreement entered into by Denmark or international customary law, shall be liable to the same penalty [i.e. imprisonment up to life imprisonment]. 
Denmark, Military Criminal Code, 2005, § 36(2).
Ethiopia
Ethiopia’s Criminal Code (2004) states:
Article 270.- War Crimes against the Civilian Population.
Whoever, in time of war, armed conflict or occupation organizes, orders or engages in, against the civilian population and in violation of the rules of public international law and of international humanitarian conventions:
(m) recruiting children who have not attained the age of eighteen years as members of defence forces to take part in armed conflict …
is punishable with rigorous imprisonment from five years to twenty-five years, or, in more serious cases, with life imprisonment or death. 
Ethiopia, Criminal Code, 2004, Article 270.
Finland
Finland’s Criminal Code (1889), as amended in 2008, provides that any person who “takes or recruits children below the age of 18 years into military forces or into groups in which they are used in hostilities” shall be “sentenced for a war crime to imprisonment for at least one year or for life”. 
Finland, Criminal Code, 1889, as amended in 2008, Chapter 11, Section 5(1)(5).
(emphasis in original)
France
France’s Penal Code (1992), as amended in 2010, states in its section on war crimes common to both international and non-international armed conflicts: “Using [children under the age of eighteen years] to participate actively in hostilities is punishable by 20 years’ imprisonment.” 
France, Penal Code, 1992, as amended in 2010, Article 461-7.
Germany
Germany’s Law Introducing the International Crimes Code (2002) punishes anyone who, in connection with an international or non-international armed conflict, “uses [children under the age of 15 years] to participate actively in hostilities”. 
Germany, Law Introducing the International Crimes Code, 2002, Article 1, § 8(1)(5).
Georgia
Under Georgia’s Criminal Code (1999), any war crime provided for by the 1998 ICC Statute, which is not explicitly mentioned in the Code, such as “using [children under the age of 15 years] to participate actively in hostilities”, is a crime in both international and non-international armed conflicts. 
Georgia, Criminal Code, 1999, Article 413(d).
Guatemala
Guatemala’s Law on the Protection of Childhood and Adolescence (2003) states under the heading “Right to Protection during Armed Conflict”: “International humanitarian law. … The State shall adopt all possible measures to ensure that persons below the age of eighteen do not directly participate in hostilities”. 
Guatemala, Law on the Protection of Childhood and Adolescence, 2003, Article 57.
Guinea
Guinea’s Children’s Code (2008) states:
No Child under the age of 18 shall directly or indirectly participate, in hostilities …
The act of … making them participate in hostilities will be punished with 2 to 5 years’ imprisonment and with a fine of 50,000 to 500,000 Guinean francs or with one of these penalties.
Officials in the public or private sector shall incur aggravated criminal responsibility if they are found guilty of causing serious bodily or mental harm to these children. 
Guinea, Children’s Code, 2008, Article 429.
Indonesia
Indonesia’s Child Protection Law (2002) provides that “every child has the right to obtain protection against … engagement in an armed conflict [and] engagement in war”. 
Indonesia, Child Protection Law, 2002, Articles 15(b) and (e).
Iraq
Iraq’s Law of the Supreme Iraqi Criminal Tribunal (2005) identifies using children “to participate actively in hostilities” as a serious violation of the laws and customs of war applicable in both international and non-international armed conflicts. 
Iraq, Law of the Supreme Iraqi Criminal Tribunal, 2005, Article 13(2)(Z) and (4)(G).
Ireland
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. 
Ireland, Geneva Conventions Act, 1962, as amended in 1998, Section 4(1) and (4).
Jordan
According to the Report on the Practice of Jordan, the Military Service Law (1972) provides that children under 16 years old may not take a direct part in hostilities. 
Report on the Practice of Jordan, 1997, Chapter 5.3, referring to Military Service Law, 1972, Article 2.
Jordan
In 2005, in its third periodic report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Jordan stated:
Under article 5(b) of the Military Service Act (law No. 2 of 1972) and article 139(b) of the Officers’ Service Act (law No. 35 of 1966), no one under 16 years of age may serve as an ordinary soldier, and no one under 17 years of age may serve as an officer. No soldier under 18 years of age may take part in military operations. Persons under 18 years of age are no longer accepted as volunteers in any case. 
Jordan, Third periodic report of Jordan to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, 2 March 2006, UN Doc. CRC/C/JOR/3, submitted 11 July 2005, § 60.
Kenya
Kenya’s Children Act (2001) states: “No child shall take part in hostilities”. 
Kenya, Children Act, 2001, § 10(2).
Malaysia
Malaysia’s Armed Forces Act (1972) provides that persons below the age of 18 may be appointed as apprentices, but are not considered as recruits and therefore, not being subjected to service law, do not participate in hostilities. 
Malaysia, Armed Forces Act, 1972, Section 18.
Mali
Under Mali’s Penal Code (2001), “using [children under the age of 15 years] to participate actively in hostilities” constitutes a war crime in international armed conflicts. 
Mali, Penal Code, 2001, Article 31(i)(26).
Netherlands
Under the International Crimes Act (2003) of the Netherlands, “using [children under the age of fifteen years] to participate actively in hostilities” is a crime, whether committed in an international or a non-international armed conflict. 
Netherlands, International Crimes Act, 2003, Articles 5(5)(r) and 6(3)(f).
New Zealand
Under New Zealand’s International Crimes and ICC Act (2000), war crimes include the crimes defined in Article 8(2)(b)(xxvi) and (e)(vii) of the 1998 ICC Statute. 
New Zealand, International Crimes and ICC Act, 2000, Section 11(2).
Nigeria
Nigeria’s Child’s Rights Act (2003) states: “The Government or any other relevant agency or body shall ensure that no child is directly involved in any military operation or hostilities.” 
Nigeria, Child’s Rights Act, 2003, Section 34(2).
The Act defines child as “a person under the age of eighteen years”. 
Nigeria, Child’s Rights Act, 2003, Section 277.
Norway
Norway’s Military Penal Code (1902), as amended in 1981, provides:
Anyone who contravenes or is accessory to the contravention of provisions relating to the protection of persons or property laid down in … the two additional protocols to [the 1949 Geneva] Conventions … is liable to imprisonment. 
Norway, Military Penal Code, 1902, as amended in 1981, § 108(b).
Norway
Norway’s Penal Code (1902), as amended in 2008, states: “Any person is liable to punishment for a war crime who in connection with an armed conflict … uses [children under 18 years of age] to participate actively in hostilities.” 
Norway, Penal Code, 1902, as amended in 2008, § 103(f).
Peru
Peru’s Code of Military and Police Justice (2006) states:
Any member of the military or police who in the context of an international or non-international armed conflict:
5. … uses [children under the age of 18] to participate actively in hostilities, shall be imprisoned for a period of no less than six and no more than 12 years. 
Peru, Code of Military and Police Justice, 2006, Article 90(5).
This article is no longer in force. Along with certain other articles in this legislation, it was declared unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court (en banc decision for case file No. 0012-2006-PI-TC, 8 January 2007) because it does not stipulate a crime committed in the line of duty that would fall under the jurisdiction of a military court pursuant to Article 173 of Peru’s Constitution.
Peru
Peru’s Military and Police Criminal Code (2010) states:
A member of the military or the police shall be punished with deprivation of liberty of not less than three and not more than five years if, in a state of emergency and when the Armed Forces assume control of the internal order, … he or she uses minors under the age of eighteen in hostilities. 
Peru, Military and Police Criminal Code, 2010, Article 88.
Philippines
The Act on Child Protection (1992) of the Philippines, in an article on “Children in situations of armed conflict”, provides: “Children shall not … take part in the fighting, or be used as guides, couriers or spies.” 
Philippines, Act on Child Protection, 1992, Article X, Section 22(b).
Republic of Korea
The Republic of Korea’s ICC Act (2007) provides for the punishment of anyone who commits the war crime of “using [children under the age of 15 years] to participate actively in hostilities” in both international and non-international armed conflicts. 
Republic of Korea, ICC Act, 2007, Article 10(3)(5).
Senegal
Senegal’s Penal Code (1965), as amended in 2007, states that the following constitute war crimes:
b) [O]ther serious violations of the laws and customs applicable in international armed conflict, within the established framework of international law, namely, any of the following acts:
22. using [minors] to actively participate in hostilities;
d) …
Other serious violations of the laws and customs applicable in armed conflicts not of an international character, within the established framework of international law, namely, any of the following acts:
7. … using [minors] to actively participate in hostilities. 
Senegal, Penal Code, 1965, as amended in 2007, Article 431-3(b)(22) and (d)(7).
Sierra Leone
Sierra Leone’s Child Rights Act (2007) states: “Every child has the right to be protected from involvement in armed or any other kind of violent conflicts.” 
Sierra Leone, Child Rights Act, 2007, § 28(1).
South Africa
South Africa’s ICC Act (2002) reproduces the war crimes listed in the 1998 ICC Statute, including in both international and non-international armed conflicts: “using [children under the age of fifteen years] to participate actively in hostilities”. 
South Africa, ICC Act, 2002, Schedule 1, Part 3, §§ (b)(xxvi) and (e)(vii).
Spain
Spain’s Penal Code (1995), as amended in 2010, states:
Anyone who [commits any of the following acts] during armed conflict shall be punished with three to seven years’ imprisonment:
3. … [V]iolating the prohibitions … regarding the special protection owed to … children as stipulated by the international treaties to which Spain is a party and, in particular … [with regard to] using [children under the age of eighteen] to participate actively in hostilities. 
Spain, Penal Code, 1995, as amended on 23 June 2010, Article 612(3).
Switzerland
Switzerland’s Military Criminal Code (1927), taking into account amendments entered into force up to 2011, states in a chapter entitled “War crimes”:
Art. 110
Articles 112–114 apply in the context of international armed conflicts, including in situations of occupation, and, if the nature of the offence does not exclude it, in the context of non-international armed conflicts.
Art. 112b
1 The penalty shall be a custodial sentence of not less than three years for any person who conscripts or enlists children under the age of fifteen years into the armed forces or into armed groups or makes them participate in an armed conflict. 
Switzerland, Military Criminal Code, 1927, taking into account amendments entered into force up to 2011, Articles 110 and 112b (1).
Switzerland
Switzerland’s Penal Code (1937), taking into account amendments entered into force up to 2011, states under the title “War crimes”:
Art. 264b
Articles 264d–264j apply in the context of international armed conflicts, including in situations of occupation, and, if the nature of the offence does not exclude it, in the context of non-international armed conflicts.
Art. 264f
1 The penalty shall be a custodial sentence of not less than three years for any person who conscripts or enlists children under the age of fifteen years into the armed forces or into armed groups or makes them participate in an armed conflict. 
Switzerland, Penal Code, 1937, taking into account amendments entered into force up to 2011, Articles 264b and 264f (1).
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Under the UK ICC Act (2001), it is a punishable offence to commit a war crime as defined in Article 8(2)(b)(xxvi) and (e)(vii) of the 1998 ICC Statute. 
United Kingdom, ICC Act, 2001, Sections 50(1) and 51(1) (England and Wales) and Section 58(1) (Northern Ireland).
United States of America
The US Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act (2004), states in Title VII—Implementation of 9/11 Commission Recommendations; Subtitle A—Diplomacy, Foreign Aid, and the Military in the War on Terrorism
Sec. 7104. Assistance for Afghanistan.
(h) UNITED STATES POLICY TO SUPPORT DISARMAMENT OF PRIVATE MILITIAS AND EXPANSION OF INTERNATIONAL PEACEKEEPING AND SECURITY OPERATIONS IN AFGHANISTAN.—
(1) UNITED STATES POLICY RELATING TO DISARMAMENT OF PRIVATE MILITIAS.—
(A) IN GENERAL.—It shall be the policy of the United States to take immediate steps to provide active support for the disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration of armed soldiers, particularly child soldiers, in Afghanistan, in close consultation with the President of Afghanistan. 
United States, Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act, 2004, Public Law 108-458, 17 December 2004, Title V, Subtitle E, § 7104(h)(1)(A).
United States of America
The US Child Soldiers Accountability Act (2008) amends Chapter 118 of Title 18 of the United States Code as follows:
“§ 2442. … use of child soldiers
“(a) OFFENSE.—Whoever knowingly–
“(2) uses a person under 15 years of age to participate actively in hostilities;
knowing such person is under 15 years of age, shall be punished as provided in subsection (b).
“(b) PENALTY.—Whoever violates, or attempts or conspires to violate, subsection (a) shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both and, if death of any person results, shall be fined under this title and imprisoned for any term of years or for life.
“(d) DEFINITIONS.—In this section:
“(1) PARTICIPATE ACTIVELY IN HOSTILITIES.—The term ‘participate actively in hostilities’ means taking part in—
“(A) combat or military activities related to combat, including sabotage and serving as a decoy, a courier, or at a military checkpoint; or
“(B) direct support functions related to combat, including transporting supplies or providing other services.
“(2) ARMED FORCES OR GROUP.—The term ‘armed force or group’ means any army, militia, or other military organization, whether or not it is state-sponsored, excluding any group assembled solely for non-violent political association.” 
United States, Child Soldiers Accountability Act, 2008, § 2442(a), (b) and (d)(1) and (2).
Uruguay
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. … using [children under the age of eighteen years] to participate actively in hostilities. 
Uruguay, Law on Cooperation with the ICC, 2006, Article 26.2. and 26.3.34.
Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe’s Constitution (2013) states:
Chapter 4 – Declaration of Rights
81. Rights of children
(1) Every child, that is to say every boy and girl under the age of eighteen years, has the right –
(g) not to be recruited into a militia force or to take part in armed conflict or hostilities;
86. Limitation of rights and freedoms
(2) The fundamental rights and freedoms set out in this Chapter may be limited only in terms of a law of general application and to the extent that the limitation is fair, reasonable, necessary and justifiable in a democratic society based on openness, justice, human dignity, equality and freedom, taking into account all relevant factors, including –
(b) the purpose of the limitation, in particular whether it is necessary in the interests of defence, public safety, public order, public morality, public health, regional or town planning or the general public interest;
(3) No law may limit the following rights enshrined in this Chapter, and no person may violate them –
87. Limitations during public emergency
(1) In addition to the limitations permitted by section 86, the fundamental rights and freedoms set out in this Chapter may be further limited by a written law providing for measures to deal with situations arising during a period of public emergency, but only to the extent permitted by this section and the Second Schedule.
(4) No law that provides for a declaration of a state of emergency, and no legislative or other measure taken in consequence of such a declaration may –
(a) indemnify, or permit or authorise an indemnity for, the State or any institution or agency of the government at any level, or any other person, in respect of any unlawful act; or
(b) limit any of the rights referred to in section 86(3), or authorise or permit any of those rights to be violated. 
Zimbabwe, Constitution, 2013, Sections 81(1)(g), 86(2)(b) and (3), and 87(1) and (4).
Canada
In 2013, in the MJS case, Canada’s Federal Court dismissed an appeal against the applicant’s exclusion from refugee protection on grounds of complicity in war crimes and crimes against humanity. The Court stated:
[T]he Panel found that “the documentary evidence clearly demonstrates that [the Group] committed crimes against humanity as well as war crimes in the period 1998 to 2005”, by, for example, using child soldiers. 
Canada, Federal Court, MJS case, Reasons for Judgment and Judgment, 20 March 2013, § 22.
Canada
In 2013, in the Sapkota case, Canada’s Federal Court dismissed a request for review of a decision denying refugee protection to the applicant on grounds of complicity in crimes against humanity in Nepal between 1991 and 2009. While reviewing the submissions of the respondent, Canada’s Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, the Court stated: “The Respondent notes that the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court … is endorsed in Canada as a source of customary law.” 
Canada, Federal Court, Sapkota case, Reasons for Judgment and Judgment, 15 July 2013, § 28.
Colombia
In 2007, in the Constitutional Case No. C-291/07, the Plenary Chamber of Colombia’s Constitutional Court stated:
Taking into account … the development of customary international humanitarian law applicable in internal armed conflicts, the Constitutional Court notes that the fundamental guarantees stemming from the principle of humanity, some of which have attained ius cogens status, … [include] the prohibition against allowing children to take direct part in hostilities. 
Colombia, Constitutional Court, Constitutional Case No. C-291/07, Judgment of 25 April 2007, p. 112.
[footnote in original omitted]
Afghanistan
In 2009, in its initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Afghanistan stated:
Children and armed conflict
272. Afghanistan ratified the [2000] Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict in 2003. In 2007 Afghanistan, together with 58 other states, endorsed the Paris Commitments to protect children from unlawful … use by armed forces or armed groups and the Paris Principles and guidelines on children associated with armed forces or armed groups.
273. It is increasingly reported that children are being targeted for use by armed groups, including the Taliban, as combatants, porters of munitions, informants, and in some cases as carriers of improvised explosive devices.
359. Despite the achievements, many serious challenges still lie ahead on the path of ensuring and institutionalizing child rights such as: … victimization of children during the armed conflict; … lack of regulations on … [the] use of children in armed conflicts; espionage; and transportation of ammunitions by children for armed groups, particularly Taliban[,] which requires appropriate measures by the Government, in direct cooperation with the international community, in the area of adopting new laws and policies and amending existing laws that are inconsistent with the human rights values, as enshrined in the Convention. 
Afghanistan, Initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, 13 June 2010, UN Doc. CRC/C/AFG/1, submitted 28 August 2009, §§ 272, 273 and 359.
Argentina
Upon ratification of the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child, Argentina stated that “it would have liked the Convention categorically to prohibit the use of children in armed conflicts”. 
Argentina, Reservations and declarations made upon ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, 4 December 1990, reprinted in UN Doc. CRC/C/2/Rev.4, 28 July 1995, p. 12.
Armenia
In 1997, in its initial report to the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Armenia stated: “Article 29 [of the Rights of the Child Act (1996)] prohibits the participation of children below the age of 15 in military operations.” 
Armenia, Initial report to the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, 5 December 1998, UN Doc. E/1990/5/Add.36, submitted 14 July 1997, § 155.
Australia
In 2008, 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, Australia stated:
6. Australia signed the Optional Protocol on 21 October 2002, and ratified it in September 2006. It entered into force for Australia on 26 October 2006, pursuant to article 10(2) of the Optional Protocol.
15. … Australia considers that the … use of persons under 18 as soldiers remains a serious problem for the international community. …
24. The Australian Government interprets this article to mean that persons under 18 years of age should not be deployed to areas where there is a likelihood of hostilities. …
46. … [T]he Commonwealth Criminal Code, sections 268.68 and 268.88 make the war crime of using … children in an armed conflict an offence under Australian law. Section 268.68 refers to international armed conflict and section 268.88 refers to non-international armed conflict and both provisions have extraterritorial effect. The various offences under these sections carry maximum penalties of 17 years, 15 years and 10 years imprisonment.  
Australia, Initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, 15 September 2010, UN Doc. CRC/C/OPAC/AUS/1, submitted October 2008. §§ 6, 15, 24 and 46.
Australia
In 2009, in response to a question on notice before the Senate concerning whether members of Australia’s armed forces under the age of 18 years have taken part in military operations, Australia’s Minister for Defence stated:
Since 21 October 2002, no member of the ADF [Australian Defence Force] under the age of 18 has taken part in warlike military operations. Defence policy restricts the employment of personnel under 18 years of age on operations where hostile action is likely. When available, ADF members under 18 years of age routinely participate in operations that do not involve armed hostilities, such as providing aid to the civil community. 
Australia, Senate, Minister for Defence, Question on notice: Australian Defence Force, Hansard, 17 August 2009, p. 5111.
Australia
In 2010, in a statement before the UN Human Rights Council on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the representative of Australia stated: “[Australia is] concerned that certain elements within the DRC’s armed forces continue to use … children. We support the Experts’ recommendation that the Government should prepare and implement an action plan for the prevention of … [the] use of child soldiers.” 
Australia, Statement by its representative before the UN Human Rights Council, 13th Regular Session, Interactive Dialogue with Experts on the Situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, 24 March 2010.
Australia
In 2010, in a statement before the UN Human Rights Council on Somalia, the representative of Australia stated:
Australia … [is] deeply concerned by his [the Independent Expert’s] observation that the situation for … children in Somalia has become more precarious. In particular, we note the Independent Expert’s report of … the continued … use of child soldiers. We support the Independent Expert’s call for all parties in the conflict – government and opposition groups – to respect basic principles of human rights and humanitarian law. 
Australia, Statement by its representative before the UN Human Rights Council, 13th Regular Session, Interactive Dialogue on the Situation of Human Rights in Somalia, 24 March 2010.
Austria
Upon ratification of the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child, Austria stated: “To determine an age limit of 15 years for taking part in hostilities … is incompatible with … the best interests of the child.” 
Austria, Reservations and declarations made upon ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, 6 August 1992, reprinted in UN Doc. CRC/C/2/Rev.4, 28 July 1995, p. 12.
Azerbaijan
In 2008, 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, Azerbaijan stated: “The direct participation of children under the age of 15 in military action is prohibited.” 
Azerbaijan, Initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, 31 March 2011, UN Doc. CRC/C/OPAC/AZE/1, submitted 14 November 2008, § 7.
Azerbaijan
In 2009, in its combined third and fourth periodic reports to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Azerbaijan stated: “Pursuant to Article 37 of the Law of the Republic of Azerbaijan ‘On the Rights of the Child’, direct involvement of children under 15 [years of age] in military operations shall be prohibited.” 
Azerbaijan, Third and fourth periodic reports to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, 26 April 2011, UN Doc. CRC/C/AZE/3-4, submitted 11 November 2009, § 423.
The report also stated:
[C]itizens of the Republic of Azerbaijan and other persons meeting the set requirements of the military service can voluntarily enter and be enrolled to the active military service in the military schools for cadets upon reaching the age of 17. The legislation of the Republic of Azerbaijan guarantees that such service will not be forceful or of violent nature. 
Azerbaijan, Third and fourth periodic reports to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, 26 April 2011, UN Doc. CRC/C/AZE/3-4, submitted 11 November 2009, § 429.
Bangladesh
In 2004, 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, Bangladesh stated:
There is no scope for any person to be employed for actual service or combat duty in the defence services, internal security services or paramilitary forces of Bangladesh before attaining the age of 18. 
Bangladesh, Initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, UN Doc. CRC/C/OPAC/VNM/1, 14 July 2005, submitted 16 November 2004, § 5.
Belgium
At the 27th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent in 1999, Belgium pledged “to prohibit in times of war any person under 18 to take part in any kind of armed operational engagement”. 
Belgium, Pledge made at the 27th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, Geneva, 31 October–6 November 1999.
Belgium
In 2002, upon ratification of the 2000 Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, Belgium declared:
The Government of the Kingdom of Belgium states that it is absolutely forbidden under Belgian law for any person under the age of 18 years to participate in times of war and in times of peace in any peacekeeping operation or in any kind of armed operational engagement. 
Belgium, Declaration made upon ratification of the 2000 Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, 6 May 2002.
Belgium
In 2004, 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, Belgium stated:
Belgian law complies with the obligation of States to take all practical measures to ensure that members of their armed forces who have not attained the age of 18 years do not take a direct part in hostilities, whether in peacekeeping operations or in armed operational engagement.
Belgium prohibits the participation of persons under 18 in peacekeeping operations. This results from a combination of several provisions:
(a) Articles 9 and 10 of the Act of 20 May 1994 concerning the operational deployment of the armed forces, their physical preparation and the periods and positions in which soldiers may find themselves (Moniteur belge, 21 June 1994);
(b) Articles 28, 35 and 38 of the Royal Decree of 11 August 1994 concerning the training of military candidates on the active list (Moniteur belge, 24 August 1994); and
(c) Article 1 of the Royal Decree of 6 July 1994 concerning the determination of operational forms of engagement and preparatory activities for the operational deployment of the armed forces (Moniteur belge, 20 July 1994).
The Act of 22 March 2001 amending certain provisions concerning the statutes for military personnel (Moniteur belge, 7 April 2001) introduced an article 3 bis into the aforementioned Act of 20 May 1994 prohibiting the participation in time of war of military candidates under 18 years of age in any type of operational armed engagement. This new provision supplements the existing system and reinforces the protection of military candidates under 18.
No individual under 18 years of age serving in the armed forces has … participated directly in military activities during hostilities outside Belgium. 
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, §§ 7–10.
Belgium further stated:
Article 3 bis introduced into the Act of 20 May 1994 by the Act of 22 March 2001 (Moniteur belge, 7 April 2001) … prohibits a military candidate under 18 years of age who is in training in time of war from participating in any type of armed operational engagement.
It is thus clear that, despite this apparent exception to the rule of the required minimum age of 18, any form of direct or indirect participation by Belgian soldiers under 18 years of age in armed conflict is prohibited. 
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, §§ 27–28.
Belgium also stated:
The armed forces conduct internal checks to ensure that military personnel under 18 years of age are not serving outside the national territory. This situation does not arise in practice, since military personnel in this age group are still in training and are not permitted to be in intensive service, assistance (except on national territory) or involved in operational engagement. 
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, § 58.
Belgium
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 2000 Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, Belgium stated:
As regards … making [children under the age of 15] take an active part in hostilities, 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. 
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, p. 2.
Belgium
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.
Belgium
In 2007, during 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 … use 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.
Bosnia and Herzegovina
In 2004, in its initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Bosnia and Herzegovina stated that “it is impossible to draft persons who are 15 years of age or younger and include them in armed conflict as members of the armed forces of the Federation of BiH”. 
Bosnia and Herzegovina, Initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, 14 October 2004, UN Doc. CRC/C/11/Add. 28, submitted 14 May 2004, § 335.
Burundi
In 2008, in its second periodic report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Burundi stated:
39. Protocol II [to the 2000 Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement for Burundi], chapter I, article 3, … prohibits the use of children in an armed conflict …
92. Burundian legislation now protects minors against participation in armed hostilities, because the Constitution provides that no child may be used directly in an armed conflict and that the protection of children must be ensured in periods of armed conflict (art. 45).
93. Above and beyond this legal provision of principle, … in 2003 the Government adopted specific measures to demobilize child soldiers recruited by the government army or by the former armed political movements which had signed the ceasefire agreements. 
Burundi, Second periodic report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, 7 January 2010, UN Doc. CRC/C/BDI/2, submitted 17 July 2008, §§ 39 and 92–93.
Canada
At the 27th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent in 1999, Canada pledged “to promote the adoption of national and international standards prohibiting the military … participation in armed conflicts of persons under 18 years of age”. 
Canada, Pledge made at the 27th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, Geneva, 31 October–6 November 1999.
Canada
In 2012, in its written replies to the issues raised by the Committee on the Rights of the Child with regard to Canada’s combined third and fourth periodic reports, Canada stated:
Extraterritorial jurisdiction for violations of the provisions of the [2000] OPAC [Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict]
186. Canada generally does not extend its jurisdiction to prosecute offences committed by Canadians or permanent residents abroad unless required to do so by treaty obligations. No such justification exists in the case of violations of the provisions of the OPAC.
187. Nevertheless, Canada adopted the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act in 2000 implementing the Rome Statute, by which authors of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, including that of “conscripting or enlisting children under the age of 15 years or using them to participate actively in hostilities,” may be prosecuted for that offence if present in Canada after the time the offence is alleged to have been committed.
Age of voluntary recruitment
190. … As provided by section 34 of the National Defence Act, the Canadian Forces do not under any circumstances deploy persons under the age of 18 into areas where hostilities are taking place. 
Canada, Written replies by the Government of Canada to the Committee on the Rights of the Child concerning the list of issues to be taken up in connection with the combined third and fourth periodic reports of Canada, 21 January 2013, UN Doc. CRC/C/CAN/Q/3-4/Add.1, submitted September 2012, §§ 186–187 and 190.
Chad
In 2009, in its written replies to the issues raised by the Committee on the Rights of the Child with regard to Chad’s second periodic report, Chad stated:
The children whom the State party considers as having priority and urgently requiring attention with a view to the implementation of the [1989] Convention [on the Rights of the Child] are those in need of special protection measures [including] … children involved in the armed forces or armed groups …
On 9 May 2007, the UNICEF office in Chad and the Government of Chad signed a protocol of agreement on protecting children who are victims of armed conflict … , with a view to enforcing international instruments concerning the protection of children affected by armed conflict. Under the agreement, UNICEF is helping the Government of Chad to prevent the … use of children in armed forces and groups …
This agreement came after the Government had signed the Paris Commitments to protect children unlawfully … used by armed forces or armed groups in Chad.
A national programme to prevent … children … used by armed forces and armed groups in Chad has been in place since 2007, following the signing of the Paris Commitments and the protocol of agreement. A national coordinating body has been entrusted to ensure the proper implementation, monitoring and overall harmonization of ongoing or proposed activities of the programme, take strategic decisions and make sure that the process is consistent with the Paris Principles. It is composed of eight ministries, five United Nations agencies, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the National Human Rights Commission, two human rights organizations, the Red Cross in Chad and four international non governmental organizations.
Provision has been made to implement a communication strategy and integrated communication plan for this programme in 2008.
… Information concerning children deprived of a family environment and separated from their parents is available only for the following years:
2007: 658, including … 451 children recruited or used by armed forces and armed groups and separated from their parents
2008: 59 children recruited or used by armed forces and armed groups and separated from their parents
[D]isaggregated data are available for children recruited or used by armed forces and armed groups, as follows:
9–11 years old: 25 children, or 90 per cent
12–14 years old: 143 children, or 28.03 per cent
15–17 years old: 318 children, or 62.35 per cent
18 years or older: 24, or 4.7 per cent. 
Chad, Written replies by the Government of Chad to the Committee on the Rights of the Child concerning the list of issues to be taken up in connection with the second periodic report of Chad, 8 January 2009, UN Doc. CRC/C/TCD/Q/2/Add.1, submitted 7 January 2009, pp. 4–5.
Chad
In 2011, in the Action Plan on Children Associated with Armed Forces and Armed Groups in Chad, signed by the Government of Chad and the United Nations Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism Task Force on Grave Violations against Children in Situations of Armed Conflict, the Government of Chad stated:
The government undertakes to implement the Action Plan to stop … the use of children by the armed forces … Furthermore, through this Action Plan the government undertakes to prevent … the use of children associated with the armed forces. This Action Plan applies to the Chadian National Army (ANT) and to major associated formations, in particular to the Directorate-General of the Security of State’s Structures and Institutions (DGSSIE), Directorate-General of the National Gendarmerie (DGGN) and the Chadian National and Nomadic Guard (GNNT). 
Chad, Action Plan on Children Associated with Armed Forces and Armed Groups in Chad, signed by the Government of Chad and the United Nations Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism Task Force on Grave Violations against Children in Situations of Armed Conflict, 15 June 2011, Article 1.1.
The Government of Chad also stated:
2.1 The Government of Chad specifically undertakes to fully and effectively implement the following provisions:
a) Prevent and end the association of children under the age of 18 with armed forces and armed groups and guarantee their immediate release …
b) Transmit a clear military order to the military hierarchy and a policy directive to the non-military personnel to prevent and to stop … the use of children, and to ensure their prompt release.
c) Specify sanctions for violations of these orders and ensure their execution.
d) Appoint focal points with clear terms of reference and responsibilities for the implementation of the Action Plan at the highest level of the government and the associated military and paramilitary structures. This should be done in cooperation with the United Nations and [other] partners to ensure oversight, monitoring and control of the plan’s implementation …
f) Implement a concrete strategy to prevent … the use of children [by armed forces and armed groups] …
g) Criminalize the recruitment … of children in the national law; comply with international legal obligations prohibiting … the use of children by armed forces and armed groups.
h) Promptly investigate all allegations of … the use of children and bring to justice and/or take necessary disciplinary measures against all perpetrators of such crimes, including against military commanders and members of the major associated formations, and provide verifiable information about the implementation of such measures …
i) Facilitate unimpeded and regular access of UN teams on monitoring and reporting mechanism to the recruitment centres and military bases (camps, information centres, detention centers) and to other similar sites and authorise their access to military proceedings, as well as to the related documentation to allow the assessment and verification of the compliance with the commitments and activities.
j) Guarantee free, confidential and unaccompanied access to the UN Special team on monitoring and reporting mechanism and implementing partners to the concerned persons and areas, including children and their families, members of the ANT and private individuals associated with the ANT. Guarantee that no reprisals will be taken against the evaluators, the victims and the witnesses, or against any third party involved in the monitoring and reporting activities. 
Chad, Action Plan on Children Associated with Armed Forces and Armed Groups in Chad, signed by the Government of Chad and the United Nations Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism Task Force on Grave Violations against Children in Situations of Armed Conflict, 15 June 2011, Article 2.1(a)–(d) and (f)–(j).
The Government of Chad further stated:
Article 3 – Procedure
3.1 The following framework defines the activities and the timeline for the implementation of the Action Plan.
Release and support for the reintegration of children
a) Issue a clear and enforceable policy directive to the non-military personnel associated with the ANT and to the major associated formations and a clear military order to all members of the armed and/or paramilitary forces to stop the recruitment and use of children and to ensure their rapid and orderly release. The directive must indicate sanctions in the event of non-compliance and demand reporting of the breaches to the competent authorities, so they can immediately act upon them. The order should be widely and effectively disseminated, in writing and orally.
b) Identify, control, register and plan the release of all children associated with armed forces and/or with paramilitary groups at all sites, such as military bases, training camps, detention centres, medical facilities and recruitment centres.
Recruitment prevention, awareness raising and capacity building
b) Expedite the adoption of the draft Child Protection Code, which prohibits the … use of individuals under the age of 18 [by] the national security forces and provides for sanctions for this violation of the rights of the child.
Legal and disciplinary procedures
a) Establish transparent, efficient and accessible complaint procedures for cases of child recruitment … ; information about such procedures should be widely communicated to the population. Report the cases of child recruitment … to an institution set up for this purpose.
b) In accordance with international norms on the protection of children, continue to investigate, prosecute and/or take disciplinary measures against those responsible for the … use of children by the armed forces. These procedures should allow monitoring by the UN Special Team. 
Chad, Action Plan on Children Associated with Armed Forces and Armed Groups in Chad, signed by the Government of Chad and the United Nations Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism Task Force on Grave Violations against Children in Situations of Armed Conflict, 15 June 2011, Article 3.1.
The Government of Chad also stated:
Article 4 – Applicable Principles
In the implementation of their work for children affected by armed conflict, the signatories shall be guided by the following general principles:
4.7 … the unlawful use of children is a violation of their rights. 
Chad, Action Plan on Children Associated with Armed Forces and Armed Groups in Chad, signed by the Government of Chad and the United Nations Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism Task Force on Grave Violations against Children in Situations of Armed Conflict, 15 June 2011, Article 4.7.
Chile
According to the Report on the Practice of Chile, it is the opinio juris of Chile that persons under the age of 18 must not participate in any hostilities. 
Report on the Practice of Chile, 1997, Chapter 5.3.
China
In 2006, in a statement before the UN Security Council during an open debate on children and armed conflict, the ambassador China stated:
China attaches great importance to the Council’s discussion of the issue and we are against the recruitment and use of child soldiers and other violations of the rights and interests of children in armed conflict. It is our hope that the Council will play a unique role in its consideration of this question. 
China, Statement by the ambassador of China before the UN Security Council during an open debate on children and armed conflict, 28 November 2006.
Colombia
Upon signature of the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child, Colombia stated: “It would have been preferable to fix [the age for taking part in armed conflicts] at 18 years in accordance with the principles and norms prevailing in various regions and countries, including Colombia.” 
Colombia, Declaration made upon signature of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, 26 January 1990, reprinted in UN Doc. CRC/C/2/Rev.4, 28 July 1995, p. 15.
Croatia
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, Croatia stated:
20. Croatia is a country where no hostilities are taking place on its national territory and enlistment of minors in the armed forces is prohibited.
21. In Croatia conscripts (who have reached the age of 18 and are enlisted according to the legal procedure regulated by the Defence Law …) cannot be deployed to peacekeeping operations or the other activities abroad. 
Croatia, Initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, 11 January 2007, submitted 24 November 2006, §§ 20–21.
Democratic Republic of the Congo
In 2007, in its second periodic report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, the Democratic Republic of the Congo stated:
96. The war, which had a very adverse effect on children’s rights, has ended through the conclusion and implementation of the Global and Comprehensive Agreement signed in Pretoria on 17 December 2002, although there remain to this day some isolated pockets of armed conflict in the East of the country.
97. … Among the positive measures taken by the Government to maintain a lasting peace, the following should be noted:
- The demobilization of children in armed forces and armed groups;
185. The new Labour Code of 2002 … prohibits all of the worst forms of child labour, taking its cue from article 3 of ILO Convention No. 182 (1999) concerning the prohibition of the worst forms of child labour and immediate action with a view to their elimination.. Pursuant to article 3 (2) of the Code, the term “worst forms of child labour” includes, in particular:
(a) All forms of slavery or practices similar to slavery, such as the sale and trafficking of children, debt bondage and serfdom and forced or compulsory labour, including forced or compulsory recruitment of children for use in armed conflict[.] 
Democratic Republic of the Congo, Second periodic report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, 24 July 2008, UN Doc. CRC/C/COD/2, submitted 23 October 2007, §§ 96–97 and 185(a).
Denmark
At the 27th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent in 1999, Denmark pledged “to promote the adoption of national and international standards prohibiting the military … participation in armed conflicts of persons under 18 years of age”. 
Denmark, Pledge made at the 27th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, Geneva, 31 October–6 November 1999.
Denmark
In 2009, in a statement before the UN Security Council on children and armed conflict, made on behalf of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, the permanent representative of Finland stated:
The SC [Security Council] should refer violations against children in armed conflict to the ICC [International Criminal Court] for investigation and prosecution when national governments fail to carry out their responsibility to protect these children. 
Denmark, Statement by the permanent representative of Finland before the UN Security Council on “Children and Armed Conflict” made on behalf of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, 29 April 2009.
Djibouti
In 2010, in the History and Geography Textbook for 8th Grade, Djibouti’s Ministry of National Education and Higher Education, under the heading “Basic rules of IHL” and in a section on “Specific protection”, stated: “It is prohibited to … use children younger than 15 years old in an armed conflict.ˮ 
Djibouti, Ministry of National Education and Higher Education, History and Geography Textbook for 8th Grade, 2010, p. 194.
Under the heading “Terminology”, the ministry defined a child soldier as
a child that has been recruited or used by armed forces or by an armed group in any capacity – as a combatant, a cook, a carrier, a messenger, a spy or for sexual services. The term does not apply only to children who participate directly in hostilities. 
Djibouti, Ministry of National Education and Higher Education, History and Geography Textbook for 8th Grade, 2010, p. 197.
El Salvador
In 2006, during the consideration of the initial report of El Salvador under the 2000 Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict before the Committee on the Rights of the Child, a representative of El Salvador stated:
[T]he Constitution of the Republic of El Salvador provides that military service is mandatory for all Salvadorans between the ages of 18 and 30. However, the fact that all Salvadorans suitable for military service may be drafted does not mean that El Salvador authorises the participation of children in hostilities. 
El Salvador, Statement before the Committee on the Rights of the Child during the consideration of the initial report of El Salvador under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, 19 May 2006, UN Doc. CRC/C/SR.1122, 19 May 2006, § 11.
Finland
At the 27th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent in 1999, Finland pledged “to promote the adoption of national and international standards prohibiting the military … participation in armed conflicts of persons under 18 years of age”. 
Finland, Pledge made at the 27th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, Geneva, 31 October–6 November 1999.
Finland
In 2003, in its fifth periodic report to the Human Rights Committee, Finland stated: “The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict entered into force for Finland on 1 July 1997.” 
Finland, Fifth periodic report to the Human Rights Committee, 24 July 2003, UN Doc. CCPR/C/FIN/2003/5, submitted 17 June 2003, § 331.
France
In 2003, in its second periodic report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, France stated:
France is very active in the development of instruments relating to the rights of the child. It actively supported the adoption of the Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography … and on involvement of children in armed conflicts. 
France, Second periodic report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, 9 October 2003, UN Doc. CRC/C/65/Add.26, submitted 1 August 2002, § 87.
France
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, France stated:
Article 1 - Direct participation in hostilities
4. Under article 20, paragraph 4, Act No. 2005-270 of 24 March 2005, the Members of the Armed Forces (General Regulations) Act, no one who is not at least 17 years of age may become a member of the armed forces. In fact, no minor below the age of 18 participates in operations abroad, both because of the length of the probationary period (six months) and because of the initial training given (four to seven months minimum depending on the area of training).
5. The concept of direct or active participation in hostilities is not the subject of a detailed definition, whether in treaty law or in French domestic law. Thus the concept is only mentioned in article 3 common to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949. In French law, it is referred to in the Criminal Code, part VI, article 436-1, under which participation in mercenary activity is illegal. Nevertheless, this legal concept is not subject to particular debate. As part of work by the International Committee of the Red Cross and the T.M.C. Asser law institute in the Netherlands, French experts are actively involved in the international process of drafting guiding principles in this field. Two seminars were organized in 2004 and 2005, and the work of this group is expected to continue in 2006. 
France, Initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, UN Doc. CRC/C/OPAC/FRA/1, 6 November 2006, submitted 26 September 2006, §§ 4–5.
France
In 2008, the Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of France stated:
The tragedy of child soldiers forces us to be determined and uncompromising. In spite of the countless and inevitable difficulties, of which we are all aware, our sole objective should be the eradication of this barbarous phenomenon.
The establishment in 2005 of the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict has already made it possible for us to act. That innovative and profoundly original mechanism – in which France had a major role in establishing and over which we have had the honour to preside since its inception – has resulted in tangible progress. Thousands of children have been freed and returned to civilian life – especially in Burundi, Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and numerous other countries, which I shall forego naming. Recommendations have been made with regard to 10 of the 12 situations on the agenda. The Working Group will soon take up the last two pending cases, namely, those of the Philippines and Colombia. Lastly, for the first time, we are going to remove a country from that sad list – Côte d’Ivoire.
In spite of those significant successes, I do not wish to give the impression that all the problems are being resolved. We still have much to do. There is the reappearance of children in the battlefields of Sri Lanka, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burma. I recently visited those countries, and I could tell of the horror still fresh in my mind.
Just today, the Central African Republic and Afghanistan were placed on the list of situations of concern. There are many things to remind us daily of the forever unfinished nature of this struggle. As always, the international community must remain mobilized and redouble its efforts.
France would in particular like to see a strengthening of the deterrent character of the Working Group. Its members must not shy away from adopting strong targeted sanctions. Otherwise, what are we here for? This is an issue that pertains to its credibility. There is no credible deterrence without real sanctions.
International criminal justice – the International Criminal Court or other special tribunals – has made essential progress this year through remarkable actions, especially against Germain Katanga, Charles Taylor and Colonel Mathieu Ngudjolo, among others, charging them with the use … of children under the age of 15 …
… The Slovene presidency of the European Union has decided to make children in armed conflict its priority in the area of human rights, a decision about which I am delighted.
France, for its part, organized together with UNICEF, in February 2007, a ministerial conference entitled “Free Children from War,” at which 59 countries signed on to the Paris Commitments to protect children unlawfully recruited or used by armed forces or armed groups, a collection of principles and good practices that will, we hope, significantly strengthen our efforts. Following that success, we organized, again together with UNICEF, a ministerial follow-up conference in October 2007, at which seven more countries joined the Paris Commitments. 
France, Statement by the Minister of Foreign and European Affairs before the UN Security Council on “Children and Armed Conflict”, 12 February 2008, pp. 22–24.
Germany
Upon ratification of the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child, Germany stated that it “regrets the fact that … even 15-year-olds may take a part in hostilities as soldiers, because this age limit is incompatible with the consideration of a child’s best interests”. 
Germany, Reservations and declarations made upon ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, 6 March 1992, reprinted in UN Doc. CRC/C/2/Rev.4, 28 July 1995, p. 19.
Germany
In 2001, in its second periodic report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Germany stated:
2. Children in armed conflicts (art. 38), their physical and psychological recovery and social reintegration (art. 39)
Statutory regulations
807. The protection of children in armed conflicts is guaranteed by article 77 of the Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts and article 4 of the Additional Protocol relating to the Protection of Victims of Non-International Armed Conflicts. Both of these protocols were ratified by the Federal Republic of Germany in 1990 and thus became national law. The Federal Government contributes to spreading knowledge about the rules of international humanitarian law in armed conflicts, especially by relevant training in the armed forces. Above and beyond this, it provides general information that is mainly used in training staff and helpers in the medical and other aid organizations.
International efforts of the Federal Government
808. In its declaration made upon depositing the ratification certificate instrument for the Convention, the Federal Government stated that it regretted that according to article 38, paragraph 2, of the Convention children as young as 15 may take part in hostilities as soldiers. It was and is of the opinion that this age limit is not compatible with the well-being of the child within the meaning of article 3, paragraph 1, of the Convention. Furthermore, it declared that it would not make use of the opportunity of setting this age limit at 15 opened up by the Convention.
809. Accordingly, in the period under review the Federal Government advocated for raising the age limit to 18 with reluctant countries, both in bilateral talks and together with EU partners.
811. In the negotiations on the Optional Protocol to the Convention on children in armed conflict, the Federal Government advocated the minimum age of 18 for direct participation in fighting. From the point of view of the Federal Government it was also desirable to establish the minimum age of 18 also for indirect participation in action.
812. On 21 January 2000 the working group of the Commission on Human Rights in Geneva adopted the draft of the Optional Protocol by consensus. The agreement on the draft should be welcomed from the point of view of the Federal Government because it represents clear progress over the original provisions of the Convention. The draft meets the demand of the German Bundestag that the Federal Government support the minimum age of 18 for participation in fighting. The Optional Protocol specifies the minimum age for direct participation in fighting, for State and non-governmental forces, at 18.
813. Within the context of the negotiations on the ILO Convention (No. 182) concerning the Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour, an application for amendment submitted by Germany led to the inclusion of child soldiers in the agreement. 
Germany, Second periodic report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under Article 44 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, 24 July 2003, UN Doc. CRC/C/83/Add.7, submitted 23 July 2001, §§ 807–809 and 811–813.
Germany
In 2007, 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, Germany stated:
Article 1
10. On deposit of the instrument of ratification, Germany made the following declaration:
The Federal Republic of Germany hereby declares that it regards a minimum age of 17 years as binding for commencement of voluntary service as a soldier in its armed forces within the meaning of article 3, paragraph 2, of the Optional Protocol. Persons under 18 years of age are recruited to the armed forces solely for the purpose of beginning military training.
Protection of volunteers under the age of 18 years, within the context of their decision to enter the armed forces, is ensured, inter alia, by virtue of the consent that has to be given by their statutory representatives and by the mandatory requirement of presentation of their identity card or passport as reliable proof of their age.
11. This means that volunteers under the age of 18 years are not allowed to perform any functions outside military training, meaning functions where they could be forced to use arms. In particular, they are not allowed to be deployed for armed guard duty. The use of arms by volunteers is to be confined in the case of volunteers under the age of 18 years solely to training and is to be placed under strict supervision.
12. In a letter dated 9 September 2004 from the State Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Defence (annex I) this directive was transmitted to the Bundeswehr (Federal Armed Forces) via the Director of the Armed Forces Staff.
13. Reference is also made in this letter to the existing directive by virtue of which volunteers under 18 years of age are under no circumstances allowed to be involved in Bundeswehr (Federal Armed Forces) operations.
Article 3
16. Since on principle it is permissible in Germany to recruit volunteers for service in the armed forces as soon as they have attained the age of 17 years, it is mandatory to apply the safeguards pursuant to article 3, paragraph 3, of the Optional Protocol. This happens in Germany as set out as follows:
- Regarding subparagraph 3 (c): when the pre-induction examination has taken place and availability for military service has been ascertained, applicants who are still minors will be given an instruction sheet by the military recruitment authority (annex II), giving them comprehensive information on the duties involved in military service. In particular, their attention is drawn to the fact that the use of arms is confined solely to training and that there is no question of their being placed on armed guard duty. In addition to this, each military formation deploying a conscript who has not yet attained the age of 18 years is given a special instruction letter containing information from the military recruitment authority to the effect that, in accordance with the Optional Protocol, the conscript is not to be brought into operations that might foreseeably lead to armed conflicts (annex III). Corresponding orders ensure that minors will, in no event, take part in hostilities. 
Germany, Initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, UN Doc. CCPR/C/OPAC/DEU/1, 17 April 2007, submitted 5 January 2007, §§ 10–13 and 16.
Germany
In 2008, a representative of Germany stated before the Committee on the Rights of the Child during the consideration of the initial report of Germany under the 2000 Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict:
The minimum age for voluntary enlistment in the German armed forces had been set at 17 … Soldiers under 18 were not allowed to carry weapons. They could not be deployed anywhere where there was a risk of armed conflict, and could not be used for guard duty, as that would involve carrying a weapon. They only came into contact with weapons when they were in training, and thus under supervision, and when the exercises were finished they returned their weapons. The alternative report that had been submitted to the Committee by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) unfortunately depicted that situation in a somewhat misleading light. In any event, the author of that report had stated that he did not consider Germany to have violated its international obligations under articles 1 and 2 of the Optional Protocol. 
Germany, Statement by the delegation of Germany before the Committee on the Rights of the Child during the consideration of the initial report of Germany under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, 24 January 2008, § 5.
Germany
In 2010, in its third and fourth periodic reports to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Germany stated:
[T]he Federal Republic of Germany declared when depositing the ratification document that the commencement of voluntary service as a soldier in the armed forces is permissible from the age of 17 onwards. Persons under the age of 18 are recruited into the armed forces solely for the purpose of commencing military training. Participation in hostilities is ruled out. 
Germany, Third and fourth periodic reports to the Committee on the Rights the Child, 11 September 2012, UN Doc. CRC/C/DEU/3-4, submitted 10 October 2010, § 262.
Guinea
At the 27th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent in 1999, Guinea pledged “to promote the adoption of national and international standards prohibiting the military … participation in armed conflicts of persons under 18 years of age”. 
Guinea, Pledge made at the 27th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, Geneva, 31 October–6 November 1999.
Iceland
At the 27th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent in 1999, Iceland pledged “to promote the adoption of national and international standards prohibiting the military … participation in armed conflicts of persons under 18 years of age”. 
Iceland, Pledge made at the 27th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, Geneva, 31 October–6 November 1999.
India
In 2005, upon ratification of the 2000 Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, India made the following declaration:
Pursuant to article 3 (2) of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, the Government of the Republic of India declare that:
(i) The minimum age for recruitment of prospective recruits into Armed Forces of India (Army, Air Force and Navy) is 16 years. After enrollment and requisite training period, the attested Armed Forces personnel is sent to the operational area only after he attains 18 years of age. 
India, Declaration made upon ratification of the 2000 Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, 30 November 2005.
India
In 2011, 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, India stated:
Article 1
5. The minimum age for recruitment of prospective officers into the Armed Forces of India (Army, Air Force and Navy) is 16 and half years. However, after enrolment, the recruits undergo training. They are sent to the operational areas only after attaining 18 years of age. The minimum age for recruitment to Central Paramilitary Forces (CPF) is 18 years. Both the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and the Ministry of Defence have stated that no soldier below 18 years of age is deployed. …
Article 3
Paragraph 1
7. Recruitment to the Armed Forces in India is purely voluntary and a person below 18 years of age cannot be inducted directly into the Armed Forces and hence, does not take direct part in hostilities. Recruitment of jawans in the Army is carried out through open recruitment rallies and those in the age group of 18–42 years are eligible to apply.
Article 4
17. India does not face either international or non-international armed conflict situations. However, it had created a protection mandate for children much before ratifying the Optional Protocol on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict. Article 21 of the Constitution says that no person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to the procedure established by law. Article 39(e) directs the State to ensure that children are given opportunities and facilities to develop in a healthy manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity, and that they are protected against exploitation and against moral and material abandonment. Article 47 imposes on the State the primary responsibility of ensuring that all the needs of children are met and that their basic rights are fully protected.
18. Even though India does not face armed conflict, there are legislative provisions that prevent involvement of children in armed conflict and provide care and protection to children affected by armed conflict.
19. A child affected by armed conflict has been already defined by the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act (JJ Act), 2000, as a child in need of care and protection. Therefore, all the measures available under this Act are available for such children, which have a standard component of minimum standards to be adhered to. The Act was amended in 2006, making it more responsive to the emerging needs of juvenile justice.
20. The Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS), launched by the MWCD [Ministry of Women and Child Development] in 2009, is a centrally-sponsored scheme that provides a safe and secure environment for overall development of children in need of care and protection, including children in difficult circumstances, such as children affected by, or involved in armed conflict. The objective of the Scheme is to contribute to the improvement in the well-being of children in difficult circumstances, and to the reduction of vulnerabilities to situations and actions that lead to abuse, neglect, exploitation, abandonment and separation of children. These will be achieved by:
(a) Improved access to, and quality of, child protection services;
[(b)] Increased public awareness about the reality of child rights, situation and protection in India;
[(c)] Clearly articulated responsibilities and enforced accountability for child protection;
[(d)] Established and functioning structures at all Government levels for delivery of statutory and support services to children in difficult circumstances;
[(e)] Introduction of operational-evidence-based monitoring and evaluation. 
India, Initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, UN Doc. CRC/C/OPAC/IND/1, submitted 26 August 2011, §§ 5, 7 and 17–20.
[footnotes in original omitted]
Iraq
In 1988, during the Iran–Iraq War, the Iraqi President stated that “using children in war, without having the mature ability to make decisions, involves a violation of fundamental rights of the human being”. 
Iraq, Speech by the President of Iraq, 1 December 1988, Report on the Practice of Iraq, 1998, Chapter 1.1.
Iraq
In 2012, Iraq’s Ministry of Human Rights issued a press release entitled “The [D]eputy [M]inister of human rights for studies affairs heads the special committee related to children[’s] involvement in armed conflicts”, which stated:
[T]he [D]eputy [M]inister of human rights for studies affairs had chaired the meeting of the committee specialized in children[’s] involvement in armed conflicts on Wednesday the 8th of February 2012. … The meeting discussed [the] banning of children[’s] involvement in armed conflicts. 
Iraq, Ministry of Human Rights, “The [D]eputy [M]inister of human rights for studies affairs heads the special committee related to children[’s] involvement in armed conflicts”, Press Release, 8 February 2012.
Iraq
In 2012, 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, Iraq stated:
24. Article 13 (2) (z) of the Iraqi High Tribunal Act No. 10 of 2005, establishes the conscription or enlistment of children under the age of 15 years into the national armed forces or their use as active participants in hostilities [] as a war crime. Moreover, article 13 (4) (g) establishes the conscription or enlistment of children under the age of 15 years into armed forces or groups or their use as active participants in hostilities as a war crime. Although these offences are punishable under the Act, it is applicable only to offences committed from 17 July 1968 to 1 May 2003 and not to those committed subsequently.
25. While the Government of Iraq endeavours to fulfil its obligations in respect of international human rights law, there is no provision in the national legal system establishing the involvement of children in armed conflict as an offence or prescribing a penalty for doing so. A code on the rights of the child is being drafted that will include the relevant legal provisions, including those on child protection established under the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Protocols thereto and under international humanitarian law. The drafting committee for this report will raise this important point in the context of national debates relating to the finalization of the report by Iraqi government bodies. The Ministry of Human Rights, using its legislative authority to draft human rights legislation, will introduce a number of ideas and bills concerning the provision of appropriate protection to prevent the involvement of children in armed conflict. Meanwhile, the Child Welfare Authority within the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs is drafting a child protection strategy for Iraq. The current child protection strategy entered into force in 2009; currently, the Child Welfare Authority is formulating a child protection strategy that includes armed conflict.
III. Prohibition
39. Reference was made at the beginning of the report to the prohibition against the recruitment of children to the Iraqi armed forces and against the recruitment of children by any armed group. Iraqi legislation is in conformity with the Convention and the Optional Protocols thereto and seeks to protect children from all forms of exploitation, including involvement in armed conflict. Conscription has been suspended and therefore merits no further discussion at present.
40. It should be noted that the Government of the Republic of Iraq ratified the Protocol additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the protection of victims of international armed conflicts pursuant to Act No. 85 of 2001. Moreover, Iraq acceded to the International Labour Organization (ILO) Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention 1999 (No. 182) on 9 July 2001. 
Iraq, Initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, 18 October 2013, UN Doc. CAT/C/OPAC/IRQ/1, submitted 9 May 2012, §§ 24–25 and 39–40.
Ireland
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. 
Ireland, Initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, 5 February 2007, UN Doc. CRC/C/OPAC/IRL/1, submitted 1 December 2006, §§ 7–9.
Islamic Republic of Iran
The Report on the Practice of the Islamic Republic of Iran states: “Iraq denied using children at the battlefront and accused Iran of using children of Iraqi residents in Iran (sons of Iraqi dissidents) for propaganda.” 
Report on the Practice of the Islamic Republic of Iran, 1997, Chapter 5.3.
Israel
In 2008, 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, Israel stated:
[P]ersons aged 17–18, who volunteer for early military service, on their own initiative, pursuant to their written request, and according to the provisions declared by the State of Israel, are limited to military training until they attain 18 years, and do not take a direct part in hostilities. 
Israel, Initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, 15 April 2009, UN Doc. CRC/C/OPAC/ISR/1, submitted 18 March 2008, § 7.
Israel further stated that “members of the Israel Defence Force … aged under 18, are not posted in combat duty and therefore do not take a direct part in hostilities”. 
Israel, Initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, 15 April 2009, UN Doc. CRC/C/OPAC/ISR/1, submitted 18 March 2008, § 6.
Israel also stated:
There are no legal options to lower the recruitment age, in times of emergency and those who are not designated for service, but wish to do so, may assist in the performance of non-military activities that shall not constitute direct participation in hostilities. Therefore, any service volunteered for by persons under 18 will adhere to [the] objectives and spirit of the Optional Protocol, whilst still allowing these persons, to be actively engaged in civil aid of the State during a crisis. 
Israel, Initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, 15 April 2009, UN Doc. CRC/C/OPAC/ISR/1, submitted 18 March 2008, § 27.
Italy
In 1996, during a debate in the UN Security Council on the situation in Liberia, Italy described the warlords’ practice of deploying children for combat as “one of the most despicable actions”. It insisted that the international community should use every means available to stop such behaviour immediately, notably the inclusion of a provision in the future ICC Statute aimed at “bring[ing] to justice the perpetrators of such intolerable acts”. 
Italy, Statement before the UN Security Council, UN Doc. S/PV.3694, 30 August 1996, p. 6.
Lao People’s Democratic Republic
In 2009, in its second periodic report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR) stated:
2. Children in armed conflict (art. 38 [of the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child]), including physical and psychological recovery and social reintegration (art. 39 [of the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child]))
122. … Although article 49 of the Constitution stipulates that Lao citizens “shall have a duty to protect and defend peace and to perform military service in accordance with the provisions of the law”, article 3 of the Act on National Service Obligations provides that “male citizens of good health, aged between 18 and 28, must perform military service. Young women aged between 18 and 23 may be called upon to do so in case of need”. Therefore, no children below the age of 18 are enlisted in the armed forces. In time of war, children wi[ll] not be directly involved in combat, and the authorities responsible (Ministry of National defence and Ministry of security) will take the necessary measures to protect the civilian population, including children.
126. In the current situation where everything is normal, the Government applies the general principles of the [1989] Convention [on the Rights of the Child] where it can; in applying the provisions of article 38 of the Convention, it will, of course, respect those principles, except in emergency situations beyond its control.
129. Given that the provisions of articles 38 and 39 of the Convention do not reflect the actual situation in the Lao PDR, the Government is unable to assess the progress made or difficulties encountered in implementing those articles. It is, however, in the process of looking into the possibility of signing the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict. 
Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Second periodic report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, 10 August 2010, UN Doc. CRC/C/LAO/2, submitted 22 April 2009, §§ 122, 126 and 129.
Mexico
At the 27th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent in 1999, Mexico pledged “to promote the adoption of national and international standards prohibiting the military … participation in armed conflicts of persons under 18 years of age”. 
Mexico, Pledge made at the 27th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, Geneva, 31 October–6 November 1999.
Mexico
In 2008, 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, Mexico stated:
In accordance with the provisions of the Optional Protocol, Mexicans who join the Mexican Army or Air Force on active service must be at least 18 years of age, except when enrolled in the military education system. There is no … obligation for [children under the age of 18] … to take part in hostilities. 
Mexico, Initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, 7 January 2010, UN Doc. CRC/C/OPAC/MEX/1, submitted 7 October 2008, §§ 22 and 34–35.
[footnote in original omitted]
Mexico
In 2009, during a debate in the UN Security Council on children and armed conflict, Mexico’s permanent representative stated: “We condemn all acts that jeopardize the integrity of children, such as … [the] use of child soldiers”. 
Mexico, Statement by the permanent representative of Mexico to the UN in New York before the UN Security Council, 6114th meeting, UN Doc. S/PV.6114, 29 April 2009, p. 29.
Mexico
In 2010, during a debate in the UN Security Council on children in armed conflict, Mexico’s Secretary of Foreign Affairs stated:
Mexico will continue to guide the work of the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict inclusively and with determination and transparency until the end of its mandate as non-permanent member of the Security Council.
We would like to focus on five aspects … [including] promoting the implementation of action plans aimed at ending the … recruitment and use of children. 
Mexico, Statement by the Secretary of Foreign Affairs of Mexico before the UN Security Council, 6341th meeting, UN Doc. S/PV.6341, 16 June 2010, p. 13.
Mozambique
At the 27th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent in 1999, Mozambique pledged “to promote the adoption of national and international standards prohibiting the military … participation in armed conflicts of persons under 18 years of age”. 
Mozambique, Pledge made at the 27th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, Geneva, 31 October–6 November 1999.
Nepal
In 2007, in its comments to the conclusions and recommendations of the Committee against Torture, Nepal stated:
The security forces have not used children as spies or messengers. Since the United Nations Mission in Nepal has been entrusted with the task of monitoring and registration of the arms and combatants of the Maoists as per the [2006] Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the Government and Nepal Communist Party (Maoist), it is understandable that no child soldiers can remain in the Maoist side as well. 
Nepal, Comments by the Government of Nepal to the conclusions and recommendations of the Committee against Torture, 29 January 2008, UN Doc. CAT/C/NPL/CO/2/Add.1, submitted 1 June 2007, § 33.
Netherlands
Upon ratification of the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Netherlands stated that “it is of the opinion that States should not be allowed to involve children directly or indirectly in hostilities”. 
Netherlands, Reservations and declarations made upon ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, 6 February 1995, reprinted in UN Doc. CRC/C/2/Rev.4, 28 July 1995, p. 27.
New Zealand
In 2008, in its combined third and fourth periodic reports to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, New Zealand stated:
478. The Defence Force Orders for Personnel Administration (DFO 4) have been amended to expressly prohibit active service, both within and outside New Zealand, by members of the Armed Forces who are under the age of 18 years. Specifically, paragraph 2.11 of DFO 4 states:
Service members are not to be posted on active service unless they have reached the age of 18 years. In addition, Service members under 18 years of age are not to be posted on operational service outside New Zealand.
479. In addition, section 37 of the Defence Act 1990 has been amended by deleting the word “overseas” from the heading and now states that no person serving in the Armed Forces who is under 18 years is liable for active service.
480. The effect of these amendments is to ensure that members of the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) who have not reached the age of 18 years do not take a direct part in any hostilities, irrespective of whether the deployment meets the definition of active service or not. 
New Zealand, Third and fourth periodic reports to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, 14 June 2010, UN Doc. CRC/C/NZL/3-4, submitted 11 November 2008, §§ 478–480.
Nigeria
In 2003, in its second periodic report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Nigeria stated:
On the issue of voluntary enlistment in the armed forces, the stipulated age is 18 years. However, various armed forces divisions have their own schools where minor cadets are admitted and trained. However, beyond parade and disciplinary training, the children are not involved in military activities. There is no conscription of children into the armed forces in Nigeria. 
Nigeria, Second periodic report of Nigeria to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, 17 September 2004, UN Doc. CRC/C/70/Add.24, submitted 30 January 2003, § 48.
Norway
At the 27th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent in 1999, Norway pledged “to promote the adoption of national and international standards prohibiting the military … participation in armed conflicts of persons under 18 years of age”. 
Norway, Pledge made at the 27th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, Geneva, 31 October–6 November 1999.
Norway
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, Norway stated: “Norway meets the age-limit requirements that apply for taking a direct part in hostilities (art. 1) … and use of soldiers in armed groups that are distinct from the armed forces of the State (art. 4).” 
Norway, Initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, 6 March 2006, UN Doc. CRC/C/OPAC/NOR/1, submitted 30 January 2006, § 5.
Norway
In 2009, in a statement before the UN Security Council on children and armed conflict, made on behalf of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, the permanent representative of Finland stated:
The SC [Security Council] should refer violations against children in armed conflict to the ICC for investigation and prosecution when national governments fail to carry out their responsibility to protect these children. 
Norway, Statement by the permanent representative of Finland—on behalf of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden—on “Children and Armed Conflict”, before the UN Security Council, 29 April 2009.
Norway
In 2010, in a statement before the UN Security Council on the protection of civilians in armed conflict, the counsellor at Norway’s Permanent Mission to the UN stated: “We support the Secretary General’s proposals to include the … use of child soldiers in the mandate of all sanctions committees”. 
Norway, Statement by the Counsellor at the Permanent Mission of Norway to the UN on the “Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict”, before the UN Security Council, 7 July 2010.
Oman
In 2005, in its second periodic report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Oman stated: “The current law does not permit the direct involvement of children under 15 years of age in any war, since they are incapable of discernment.”  
Oman, Second periodic report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, 8 May 2006, UN Doc. CRC/C/OMN/2, submitted 28 April 2005, § 452.
Pakistan
In 2001, in its second periodic report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Pakistan stated: “Only persons over the age of 18 years can take part in hostilities.” 
Pakistan, Second periodic report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, 11 April 2003, UN Doc. CRC/C/65/Add.21, submitted 19 January 2001, § 359.
Pakistan
In 2008, in its combined third and fourth periodic reports to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Pakistan stated that “only persons over the age of 18 years can take part in hostilities”. 
Pakistan, Third and fourth periodic reports to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, 19 March 2009, UN Doc. CRC/C/PAK/3–4, submitted 4 January 2008, § 532.
Philippines
In 1993, in its initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, the Philippines stated: “Children are … not allowed to take part in the fighting and not to be used as guides, couriers and spies.” 
Philippines, Initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Doc. CRC/C/3/Add.23, 3 November 1993, § 200.
Philippines
In 2002, in a speech during the 6th Asia Pacific-Middle East Regional Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the President of the Philippines noted:
… I thank the work of the Red Cross and Red Crescent in soothing the suffering of the victims of terrorism even as I ask you to elevate other issues related to conflict or terrorism to a higher place in the agenda of your action and advocacy plan.
One, is an active campaign, I hope, against the employment of children and minors in combat. This comes to my mind, because just a week ago, I attended a surrender ceremony of former communist rebels and saw how they still continue to be recruited at such an early age to wage war against the government. I ask for your support and cooperation in facing this serious challenge to the community of civilized nations. 
Philippines, President of the Republic of the Philippines, Speech during the 6th Asia Pacific-Middle East Regional Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, 25 November 2002.
Philippines
In 2007, in its report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the 2000 Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, the Philippines stated:
The Philippine government does not at all allow the direct participation of the country’s minors in warfare. This is manifest in the policy of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to enlist into the armed forces only persons who are 18 years old and above. This policy is contained in the Memorandum Circular No. 13 on Selective Enlistment/Reenlistment of the Department of National Defense (DND) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines signed in July 1991. 
Philippines, Initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under Article 8(1) of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, UN Doc. CRC/C/OPAC/PHL/1, 7 November 2007, § 10.
Poland
In 2007, 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, Poland stated: “According to … Polish law, people under 18 … cannot participate in military actions.” 
Poland, Initial Report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, 19 February 2009, UN Doc. CRC/C/OPAC/POL/1, submitted 13 December 2007, § 3.
Poland
In 2009, in its written replies to the Committee on the Rights of the Child concerning its initial report under the 2000 Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, Poland stated with regard to a question on whether it assumes extraterritorial jurisdiction over the war crime of using children to participate actively in hostilities:
[D]raft art. 124, paragraph 2, of the Penal Code included in the government’s draft law amending the Penal Code act, the law Regulations Introducing the Penal Code, and the law Code of Penal Proceedings, provide for complementing the list of war crimes with, among other [things], penalising behaviour consisting in … “whoever breaching international law … uses such persons [under 18 years of age] to participate in hostilities.” The draft amendment is currently in the process of agreements between ministries. Once it becomes valid, all forms of using children in armed conflicts will be penalised as war crimes. 
Poland, Written replies by the Government of Poland to the Committee on the Rights of the Child concerning the list of issues raised in connection with the initial report of Poland under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, 17 September 2009, UN Doc. CRC/C/OPAC/POL/Q/1/Add.1, § 7.
Republic of Korea
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, the Republic of Korea stated:
4. The Republic of Korea remains committed to protecting children from involvement in armed conflict by respecting the principles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Protocol … Major national measures taken to implement the Optional Protocol are as follows:
(b) An amendment was made to a specific provision in the Air Force Regulations that had formerly stipulated that any person under the age of 18 among students at the Air Force Aerial Science High School would perform basic wartime duties in times of war. This amendment effectively prevents any person under the age of 18 from being involved in armed conflict under any circumstance. 
Republic of Korea, Initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, 1 April 2007, UN Doc. CRC/C/OPAC/KOR/1, 16 July 2007, § 4(b).
Russian Federation
In 2008, in a statement before the UN Security Council on the protection of civilians in armed conflict, the permanent representative of the Russian Federation stated: “The use of children in [armed] conflict is inadmissible.” 
Russian Federation, Statement by the permanent representative of the Russian Federation at a UN Security Council meeting on the protection of civilians in armed conflict, 5898th meeting, 27 May 2008.
Rwanda
In 2010, 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, Rwanda stated:
I. Summary
5. At the time of the drafting of this report, Rwanda is in the demobilisation phase in which children have been given special attention. Their demobilisation began in 1997 with children who had taken refuge in RPA [Rwanda Patriotic Army] and it has currently been extended to children belonging to armed groups in DRC [Democratic Republic of the Congo] who are disarmed and repatriated to be reintegrated into the society.
7. Measures taken in this area include the creation of a Rwanda Demobilisation and Reintegration Commission, which has a child protection unit, as well as the establishment of a demobilisation camp specifically for children. The camp receives children repatriated from DRC but the remaining major handicap is that these children come in very small numbers since armed groups continue to keep them in their rank and file.
III. General information
A. Situation of Children in Rwanda
21. According to estimates from Rwanda Demobilisation and Reintegration Commission and UNMIC [United Nations Mission for the Democratic Republic of the Congo], the number of Rwandan children who were involved in armed conflicts is estimated at 4,864. These children can be divided into two groups: 2,364 are children who belonged to Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA). The majority of these children joined RPA in search for security fleeing the Genocide, but they have all been demobilised and socially reintegrated. There are then children who belong to armed groups in DRC whose number is estimated at 2,500. At the time of writing this report, 702 of these children had been repatriated.
B. General Measures of implementation of the Protocol
1. Policy measures
24. 17. Rwanda formulated a national policy on orphans and other vulnerable children since January 2003. This policy contains strategies and measures to respond to various situations of vulnerability of the child. Under the National Policy on Orphans and other Vulnerable Children, children affected by armed conflicts are displaced, kidnapped or refugee children who are forced by the war, genocide, poverty or armed groups to take part in armed conflicts. Children who take part in armed conflicts are not only those who fight on the frontline, but also informers, cooks, carriers and others.
25. Specific objectives of the Policy on these children are the following:
(a) To guarantee the respect of the rights of the child during and after conflict situations
IV. Specific measures of implementation of the Protocol
Article 1: Measures taken, in particular legislative, administrative measures or otherwise, to ensure that members of the armed forces who have not attained the age of 18 years do not take a direct part in conflicts
1. The sense of the concept of “direct participation” in the legislation and in practice in Rwanda
71. As it has just been specified above, the Rwandan legislation prohibits military service for children (Presidential [Order Establishing Army General Statutes (2002)] … and Law [Relating to] the Rights and Protection of the [C]hild [A]gainst [V]iolence [(2001)] mentioned above). The concept of “direct participation” of the children in armed conflicts therefore does not apply to the legislation and practice in Rwanda.
72. However, concerning demobilisation and reintegration of Rwandan ex-child-soldiers, the fact of involvement is not limited to children who took direct part in conflicts and, on inspiration of the 1997 Cape Town Principles and Best Practices, it included those which carry out other activities, in particular cooks, carriers, messengers, those who accompany groups without necessarily being members of their families as well as girls recruited for sexual purposes or forced marriages.
2. Measures taken to prevent that a member of the armed forces who has not attained the age of 18 years is deployed or maintained in a region where conflicts [are] taking place, and obstacles met in the application of these measures
73. … Beyond the national territory, Rwandan children involved in armed conflicts in neighbouring countries, in particular in DRC, have been disarmed and demobilised and are hence repatriated to be reintegrated into the society. The Government uses intensive diplomatic measures both at the national level and international level so that children held hostages are identified and repatriated. 
Rwanda, Initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, 6 December 2011, UN Doc. CRC/C/OPAC/RWA/1, submitted 20 January 2010, §§ 5, 7, 21, 24, 25 and 71–73.
Serbia
In 2007, in its initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Serbia stated:
440. Recruited soldiers are sent to do their military service when they become 21 years of age, while, at personal request, a recruited person may be sent to do their military service when they become 18 years of age.
441. Persons younger than 15 years of age, according to the prevailing legislation, may not be engaged in any activities related to the defence of the country, while those who have become 15, in case of a state of war or a direct threat of war or a state of emergency, become subject to [a] working obligation. 
Serbia, Initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, 31 August 2007, UN Doc. CRC/C/SRB/1, submitted 30 May 2007, §§ 440–441.
Somalia
In 2011, in its report to the Human Rights Council, Somalia stated:
75. Somalia has not ratified AP II [1977 Additional Protocol II] and it is therefore not directly applicable to Somalia as a matter of treaty law. The Government is aware that many provisions of AP II represent customary IHL rules and therefore apply to the situation in Somalia. Such provisions include Article 4 providing guarantees to persons taking no active part in hostilities … due to the fact that these norms are reflected in Common Article 3 of the [1949] Geneva Conventions.
81. The fighting in Somalia has been marked by widespread and systematic use of children as soldiers. The Government is aware of its international obligations prohibiting the use [of] children in hostilities. 
Somalia, Report to the Human Rights Council, 11 April 2011, UN Doc. A/HRC/WG.6/11/SOM/1, §§ 75 and 81.
South Africa
At the 27th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent in 1999, South Africa pledged “to promote the adoption of national and international standards prohibiting the military … participation in armed conflicts of persons under 18 years of age”. 
South Africa, Pledge made at the 27th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, Geneva, 31 October–6 November 1999.
Spain
Upon ratification of the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child, Spain expressed its disagreement at the Convention “permitting the recruitment and participation in armed conflict of children having attained the age of 15 years”. 
Spain, Declarations made upon ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, 6 December 1990, reprinted in UN Doc. CRC/C/2/Rev.4, 28 July 1995, p. 29.
Spain
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, Spain stated that in Spain the “involvement of persons aged under 18 in hostilities is … prohibited”. 
Spain, Initial report of Spain to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, 16 October 2006, UN Doc. CRC/C/OPAC/ESP/1, submitted 5 October 2006, § 12.
Spain further stated:
Spain was one of the group of countries which considered that the protection given in the Convention on the Rights of the Child was insufficient in this area and supported a stronger stand against the military recruitment of minors. To that end, it made the following declaration:
Spain, wishing to make common cause with those States and humanitarian organizations which have manifested their disagreement with the contents of article 28, paragraphs 2 and 3, of the Convention, also wishes to express its disagreement with the age limit fixed therein and to declare that the said limit appears insufficient, by permitting the … involvement in armed conflict of children having attained the age of 15 years. 
Spain, Initial report of Spain to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, 16 October 2006, UN Doc. CRC/C/OPAC/ESP/1, submitted 5 October 2006, § 20.
Sri Lanka
In 2008, 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, Sri Lanka stated:
1. The Government of Sri Lanka considers the recruitment of children for armed conflict as one of the most serious aspects of the armed conflict in Sri Lanka. … It is in direct contravention of the [1989] Convention on the Rights of the Child and the [2000] Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict, … to [both of] which [the] Government is a party. Sri Lanka ratified the Convention and the Optional Protocol on 11 August 1991 and 12 February 2002 respectively. Sri Lanka was one of the first countries to sign and ratify the Optional Protocol.
2. Sri Lanka also ratified the Convention [on the Worst Forms of Child Labour] No. 182 (1999), of the International Labour Organization on 1 March 2001. This defines child soldiering as one of the worst forms of child labour …
3. The Government has consistently maintained a zero tolerance approach towards … [the] use of children in armed conflict, in accordance with its obligations under the Convention and in particular, the Optional Protocol.
6. The Penal Code (Amendment) Act No. 16 of 2006 relating to the prohibition on the recruitment of children as combatants was enacted in Parliament on 1 January 2006. Therefore, engaging or recruiting children for use in armed conflict is now recognised as an offence. Any person convicted of this offence shall be liable to imprisonment of either description for a term not exceeding 30 years and to a fine.
7. The Government supported and welcomed the unanimous adoption of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1612 on children in armed conflict in July 2005. This resolution gives effect to a series of measures, including the establishment of a monitoring and reporting mechanism on children exposed to the armed conflict [including the use of child soldiers]. Accordingly, the Government established the Task Force for Monitoring and Reporting (TFMR) in July 2006 in collaboration with relevant United Nations agencies. Sri Lanka maintains close collaboration with the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict and presented an Aide-Memoire with relevant information in February 2008. Security Council resolution 1612 remains closely relevant to the Sri Lankan armed conflict situation which has existed for over two decades as it is one in which children have and continue to experience child recruitment … and other child rights violations. The monitoring and reporting mechanism set-up under the Security Council Resolution 1612 provides an opportunity to obtain comprehensive information on incidents involving children due to the conflict.
13. The LTTE [Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam] has been identified as a party that … use[s] children in situations of armed conflict in the report to the [UN] Secretary-General on children and armed conflict and in further reports in 2006 (S/2006/1006) and in 2007 (S/2007/758).
19. … The Government has called on all groups that have used children in armed conflict to cease the practice immediately and to release all minors in their custody.
36. The former Special Representative of the [UN] Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict Mr. Olara Otunnu was invited by the Government to visit Sri Lanka in May 1998 … The LTTE made the following commitments in relation to children in armed conflict to Mr. Otunnu during his meeting with the LTTE[:]
(a) The LTTE undertook not to engage children below the age of 18 years in combat … The LTTE leadership accepted that a framework to monitor these commitments would be put in place …
41. Children are not only forcibly recruited, but are coerced into becoming combatants and committing grave acts of violence. Such children are too young to resist, and are easily manipulated by adults who draw them into such violent acts. …
49. … [I]n 2003 … an Action Plan for Children Affected by War (the Action Plan) was signed between the Government, the LTTE and UNICEF in April 2003 … In the Action Plan, the LTTE made commitments to cease the practice of child recruitment and release all those already recruited. However, this commitment was not implemented.
58. … The Government maintains [towards] the … involvement of children in armed conflict a zero tolerance and [considers it a] non–negotiable issue. However, in the context of the ongoing fight against LTTE, the Government seeks the support of relevant international organizations to strengthen the capacity of institutions such as the NCPA, the HRCSL and the Office of the Commissioner General of Rehabilitation to protect children from being used as combatants …
61. Relevant changes have been made to the law, in particular to the Penal Code in order to address crimes against children. Thus section 358A(1)(d) of the Penal Code pronounces that any person who engages or recruits a child for use in armed conflict shall be guilty of an offence and shall on conviction be liable to imprisonment of either description for a term not exceeding thirty years and to a fine. Paragraph (b) of that subsection states that any person who subjects or causes any person to be subjected to forced or compulsory labour shall be guilty of an offence and shall on conviction be liable to imprisonment of either description for a term not exceeding twenty years and where the offence is committed in relation to a child for a term not exceeding thirty years and to a fine.
62. Sri Lanka is a signatory to the Paris Commitments to protect children from unlawful … use by armed forces or armed groups. …
81. The Government has collaborated with the United Nations to set up the TFMR, the monitoring and reporting mechanism set-up under … Security Council resolution 1612.
82. In conformity with resolution 1612 paragraph 2(a), the Objective of the TFMR is: (a) the systematic gathering of timely, objective, accurate and reliable information on the … use of child soldiers in violation of applicable international law … and (b) reporting to the Working Group of the Security Council on children and armed conflict as set up under resolution 1612.
83. In accordance with resolution 1612 and Section VI, paragraph 2 of the Terms of Reference of the Working Group of the Security Council on children and armed conflict, the TFMR will focus on violations against children affected by armed conflict beginning with its application against the party to the conflict listed in annex II of the Secretary General’s report (S/2005/72) as applicable to Sri Lanka.
84. The TFMR will also focus on the … use of child soldiers.
91. Pursuant to a decision taken by the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Human Rights (IMCHR) in November 2007, the Minister of Disaster Management and Human Rights established a multidisciplinary Committee to inquire into allegations of abduction and recruitment of children for use in armed conflict.
126. The NCPA is committed to prevent children being used as combatants. 
Sri Lanka, Initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, 15 February 2010, UN Doc. CRC/C/OPAC/LKA/1, submitted 16 June 2008, §§ 1–3, 6–7, 13, 19, 36(a), 41, 49, 58, 61–62, 81–84, 91 and 126.
Sri Lanka
In 2008, in its combined third and fourth periodic reports to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Sri Lanka stated:
Legislation was passed in a number of areas to strengthen children’s rights and enhance their protection. Th[is] included the following:
(c) The Penal Code (Amendment) Act No. 16 of 2006 … new section 358A has criminalized outstanding worst forms of child labour as stipulated in the International Labour Organization (ILO) [1999] Convention No. 182 [on the Worst Forms of Child Labour]: … [including] engagement … of children in armed conflict. 
Sri Lanka, Combined third and fourth periodic reports to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, 20 January 2010, UN Doc. CRC/C/LKA/3-4, submitted 24 October 2008, § 17(c).
Sri Lanka
In 2009, in its combined third and fourth periodic reports to the Committee against Torture, Sri Lanka stated:
61. Sri Lanka is, at present, successfully emerging from a protracted, 30 year armed conflict with the terrorist group, the LTTE [Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam]. The LTTE was well known for their use of children in armed conflict, sometimes as young as 14 years, for active combat and for suicide missions. The Government of Sri Lanka has, throughout the conflict, maintained its strong condemnation and unequivocal abhorrence … [of] the … use of children in armed conflict.
62. … The Government has consistently maintained a zero tolerance policy towards … [the] abduction and use of children in armed conflict …
66. Sri Lanka was among the first Member State[s] to volunteer to set up a National Task Force in accordance with United Nations Security Council resolutions 1539 and 1612 to monitor and report on these activities.
91. … [T]he Penal Code (Amendment) Bill on the recruitment of children as combatants was passed on the 1 of February 2006. There under the “engaging and recruiting children for use in armed conflict” was considered an offence. 
Sri Lanka, Combined third and fourth periodic reports to the Committee against Torture, 23 September 2010, UN Doc. CAT/C/LKA/3-4, submitted 17 August 2009, §§ 61–62, 66 and 91.
Sweden
At the 27th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent in 1999, Sweden pledged “to promote the adoption of national and international standards prohibiting the military … participation in armed conflicts of persons under 18 years of age”. 
Sweden, Pledge made at the 27th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, Geneva, 31 October–6 November 1999.
Switzerland
At the 27th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent in 1999, Switzerland pledged “to promote the adoption of national and international standards prohibiting the military … participation in armed conflicts of persons under 18 years of age”. 
Switzerland, Pledge made at the 27th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, Geneva, 31 October–6 November 1999.
Switzerland
In 2004, 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, Switzerland stated:
The measures taken by Switzerland to ensure that members of the armed forces who have not attained the age of 18 do not take a direct part in hostilities are contained in articles 8 and 11 of the Federal Act concerning the Army and Military Administration (LAAM) and article 8 of the Ordinance on the Recruitment of Conscripts (OREC). Under the LAAM, article 8, paragraph 2, the requirement to enlist takes effect at the beginning of the year in which a person subject to military service reaches the age of 19 and lapses at the end of the year in which he or she turns 25. Under the OREC, article 8, paragraph 1, only those conscripts who reach the age of 19 during any given year are called up to recruitment sessions. 
Switzerland, Initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, 15 July 2005, UN Doc. CRC/C/OPAC/CHE/1, submitted 28 July 2004, § 18.
[footnotes omitted]
Switzerland
Switzerland’s Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict Strategy (2009) states: “The rights and needs of children in armed conflicts are also inadequately taken into account and respected. For example, thousands of children are still being abducted, recruited or forced to participate in hostilities.” 
Switzerland, Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict Strategy, 2009, p. 3.
Switzerland
Switzerland’s ABC of International Humanitarian Law (2009) states:
Child soldiers
It is estimated that there are around 300,000 child soldiers in the world today. Some are recruited by force while others are volunteers, in some cases for ideological reasons and in others just as a way of obtaining food. The Optional Protocol of 2000 to the [1989] UN Convention on the Rights of the Child provides for measures to ensure the reintegration in society of children who have served as combatants. The Protocol completes and strengthens the provisions of the two [1977] Additional Protocols, prohibiting compulsory recruitment and direct participation in hostilities before the age of 18. Furthermore, it calls on the States Parties to adopt measures to prevent armed groups from recruiting persons below the age of 18 and from deploying them in combat operations. The recruitment of children below the age of 15 in armed forces or other armed groups is regarded as a War crime. 
Switzerland, Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, ABC of International Humanitarian Law, 2009, pp. 10–11.
Switzerland
In 2011, in a statement during an Interactive Dialogue with the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict at the 66th Session of the UN General Assembly, the permanent representative of Switzerland stated:
Switzerland is particularly concerned about two issues: the fact that more and more children –moreover very young and handicapped – are being used for the transport of explosives; and disrespect for the rules and standards related to detention. In this regard, Switzerland recalls that before being treated as offenders, children should be considered as victims, considering the often forced nature of their participation in hostilities. 
Switzerland, Statement by the permanent representative of Switzerland during an Interactive Dialogue with the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict at the 66th Session of the UN General Assembly, 12 October 2011.
Switzerland
In 2012, in its combined second, third and fourth periodic reports to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Switzerland stated:
537. The revised version of the laws implementing the [1998] Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, which entered into force on 1 January 2011, establishes that the offence of “recruitment or use of child soldiers” is a war crime under the Criminal Code and the Military Criminal Code. The provision punishes anyone who conscripts or enlists children under 15 into the armed forces or armed groups or makes them participate in armed conflict. 
Switzerland, Combined second, third and fourth periodic reports to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, 30 October 2013, UN Doc. CRC/C/CHE/2-4, submitted 19 July 2012, p. 118.
[footnotes in original omitted]
We highly value the important work of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Mrs Leila Zerrougui and support the Joint Campaign to End the Recruitment and Use of Children by Government Security Forces in Conflict by 2016, which has been launched yesterday by the Special Representative together with UNICEF. At the same time, we need to mobilise efforts to end the recruitment and use of children by armed non-State actors.
Despite repeated calls of the international community to put an end to grave violations against children’s rights in situations of armed conflict, the Secretary General’s list of parties to armed conflict that recruit or use children still contains more than 50 perpetrators, 46 of them being armed non-State actors. Switzerland welcomes the Special Representative’s efforts to engage with a number of these non-State actors to end grave violations against children and to finalize action plans. However, commitments from armed non-State actors are still very limited and there are several challenges to the conclusion of action plans with these groups, namely their ephemeral nature, government opposition or access restrictions.
Switzerland supports a project on “Improving Accountability for Children in Situations of Armed Conflict”, which is being implemented by the Liechtenstein Institute on Self- Determination and Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict. The project will - among other things - focus on information exchange and dialogue between armed non-State actors, the UN and civil society as a step toward increased implementation of action plans.
We will also continue to support the non-governmental organisation Geneva Call, which has access to armed non-State actors and engages them to sign deeds of commitments to prevent and put a ban on the recruitment and use of children in hostilities. Geneva Call’s approach is complementary to the work undertaken by the UN, NGOs and other stakeholders.  
Switzerland, Statement by the permanent representative of Switzerland before the UN Security Council during an open debate on children in armed conflict, 7 March 2014.
My delegation would also like to thank Ms. Leila Zerrougui for her annual report and to assure her of Switzerland's continued and firm support in fulfilling her mandate of improving the protection of children in armed conflict situations.
Switzerland welcomes the launch of the global initiative to end the recruitment and use of children by armed groups by 2016. Furthermore, my country encourages the Special Representative to continue, where possible, to conduct regular dialogues with non-state actors that are recruiting or using children, or committing serious violations of international law against them. 
Switzerland, Statement by the representative of Switzerland during an interactive dialogue with the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Violence against Children and the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict at the 25th session of the UN Human Rights Council, 13 March 2014, pp. 1–2.
Ms. Nyanjura,
Thank you for the testimony you just gave. I would like to commend the courage and inner strength you have shown in recent years. If, after all that you have endured, you are able to come and appeal for an end to be brought to the suffering of children in armed conflict, we - Switzerland, the international community - must respond to your courage with action. Your testimony is a call to action to defend human dignity by defending the dignity of child soldiers.
You are one of the 24,000 to 38,000 children abducted in Uganda since 1986 who have been used as soldiers, porters and slaves. As described by you, girls associated with armed forces or groups may be forced into marriage and exposed to unthinkable acts of violence. Even after committing themselves to releasing the children, armed groups often refuse to let the girls go by holding them captive as “wives”; this was the case for you.
We must do everything we can to protect young people from the horrors of war. We must unite to take action because children are all too often victims or even actors involved in the conflicts. …
Action plan to prevent the abuse of children within the context of the phenomenon of child soldiers
Switzerland … is committed to creating effective mechanisms to strengthen respect for international humanitarian law and, together with the ICRC, has launched an initiative in pursuit of this objective. In this regard, the fight against impunity is an important element – this is the reason why Switzerland is making a significant commitment to strengthening the International Criminal Court.
The protection of the weak is a central element of the strategy. This is why, in the future, Switzerland is going to make a more decisive commitment to the fight against the recruitment and use of child soldiers. The action plan presented today demonstrates Switzerland’s political commitment to strongly opposing the phenomenon of child soldiers. Because all children have the right to be children.
That is the message of our action plan.
This action plan revolves around three key elements:
I would like to briefly elaborate on each of these points.
International humanitarian law gives special protection to children in all types of armed conflict. Enlisting children under the age of 15 or their direct participation in hostilities is prohibited under international criminal law and international humanitarian law. Added to this is the protection conferred by the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict. This sets 18 as the minimum age for compulsory recruitment and direct participation in hostilities.
Switzerland is committed to achieving the universal ratification of the Optional Protocol and is working to ensure that states honour their commitments and comply with the minimum age for recruitment that is set at 18 years.
Such universal ratification is an important step. But it is not enough. Non-state armed groups pose a serious challenge: of the 59 armed actors currently violating children's rights, 51 are non-state armed groups. International law in itself is not effective enough in this area. This is because non-state actors often do not feel that this concerns them nor do they feel legally bound by it, even though they too are bound by humanitarian law. Solutions must therefore be found to lead non-state armed groups towards respecting the rights of children. One solution is through dialogue.
The value of dialogue has been repeatedly proven. Switzerland will, therefore, continue its efforts in this area. Switzerland works with experienced partners in this regard, such as the ICRC or Geneva Call.
Syrian Arab Republic
The Report on the Practice of the Syrian Arab Republic asserts that the Syrian Arab Republic considers Article 77 of the 1977 Additional Protocol I to be part of customary international law. 
Report on the Practice of the Syrian Arab Republic, 1997, Chapter 5.3.
Tajikistan
In 2008, in its second periodic report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Tajikistan stated: “Under the Criminal Code, the recruitment, training and financing of a minor for participation in armed conflict or military operations are punishable by deprivation of liberty for a term of from 7 to 15 years with forfeiture of property.” 
Tajikistan, Second periodic report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, 2 April 2009, UN Doc. CRC/C/TJK/2, submitted 21 February 2008, § 96.
Thailand
In 2004, in its second periodic report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Thailand stated:
There is no stipulation in law for the age of participation in hostilities, but according to Thai law, the minimum age for conscription into the armed forces is 21 years. Those who have completed their third year of military training in the reserves – the majority of whom are over 18 years of age – will be allowed to enter the military reserve corps. 
Thailand, Second periodic report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, 31 May 2005, UN Doc. CRC/C/83/Add.15, submitted 7 June 2004, § 99.
Thailand
In 2009, in its initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Childs under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, Thailand stated:
3. For the purposes of the implementation of the Optional Protocol, children under the consideration of Thailand include both Thai and non-Thai children, child immigrants and displaced children fleeing armed conflict, including those in the temporary shelters. Thailand seeks to ensure that all children in Thailand below the age of 18 years will not take a direct part in armed conflict and be forcibly recruited into the Thai armed forces or groups.
II. General principle
A.1. Legislative measures
22. Thailand has legislative provisions ensuring against any recruitment or coercion of a person under 18 years of age into its armed forces and combat. According to Thailand’s declaration to the United Nations, Thai males are not liable for compulsory military service until they reach 21 and non-governmental militias are prohibited by law, regardless of the age of persons concerned. …
30. Thus, no person under 18 years is forcibly recruited to join the Thai armed forces or coerced to engage in a combat. In no circumstances will a reduction in the age of inactive military personnel below 18 years be allowed, even in times of national crisis.
C.3.Schools and colleges under the Royal Thai Armed Forces
32. There are 18 schools and colleges under the supervision of the Royal Thai Armed Forces. …
3.2 Undergraduate level
34. Includes: Royal Thai Army Nursing College, Royal Thai Navy Nursing College, Royal Thai Air Force Nursing College, Phramongkutklao College of Medicine, Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy, Royal Thai Army Academy, Royal Thai Air Force Academy, etc.
Minimum age for attendance: 16 years and over.
Military service status. Students who have not graduated do not have the membership status of the armed forces and cannot participate in battles. 
Thailand, Initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, 19 July 2011, UN Doc. CRC/C/OPAC/THA/1, submitted 30 October 2009, §§ 3, 22, 30, 32 and 34.
Uganda
In 2007, 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, Uganda stated:
Efforts have been made to ensure that there are no children in any military force in Uganda; however, pockets of reports tend to indicate that some children could be engaged in armed conflict. The Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF), charged with most of the responsibility for military action indicates that there are no children in the military forces. However, interviews with stakeholders including children in some of the districts visited … report that there are some children in the forces and they actively participate in hostilities. This also goes for militias from … [certain] districts … who were mobilized by politicians, recruited and trained by the UPDF to fight [the] Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). This, however, is a result of lack of evidence of age due to poor birth registration practices. Children from conflict and non-conflict areas continue to join the armed forces lying about their ages. 
Uganda, Initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, 17 July 2008, UN Doc. CRC/C/OPAC/UGA/1, submitted 16 August 2007, § 14.
Ukraine
In 2008, in its first periodic report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the 2000 Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, Ukraine stated:
7. Under Ukrainian legislation, in particular article 30 of the Child Protection Act, children are prohibited from taking part in military operations or armed conflict.
15. Article 30 of the Child Protection Act sets forth the Ukrainian legal principles prohibiting child paramilitary organizations and groups and pro-war and violence propaganda. It is forbidden to involve children in military operations or armed conflict, set up child paramilitary organizations or groups or promote war and violence among children. … No cases of children under the age of 18 being enlisted or forcibly recruited for use in armed conflict were recorded in the 2006–2007 period. 
Ukraine, First periodic report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, 29 October 2009, UN Doc. CRC/C/OPAC/UKR/1, submitted 31 July 2008, §§ 7 and 15.
Ukraine
In 2008, in its third and fourth periodic reports to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Ukraine stated:
1. Protection against economic exploitation, including child labour (article 32 38 [of the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child])
149. … The law prohibits the recruitment of children for the worst forms of child labour, and their participation in arduous tasks … The worst forms of child labour prohibited by law are the following:
- … forced or compulsory labour, including forced or compulsory recruitment of children for use in armed conflicts. 
Ukraine, Third and fourth periodic reports to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, 3 March 2010, UN Doc. CRC/C/UKR/3-4, submitted 26 September 2008, § 149.
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
In 2000, in a declaration made upon signature of the 2000 Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict and confirmed upon ratification in 2003, the United Kingdom stated:
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland will take all feasible measures to ensure that members of its armed forces who have not attained the age of 18 years do not take a direct part in hostilities.
The United Kingdom understands that article 1 of the Optional Protocol would not exclude the deployment of members of its armed forces under the age of 18 to take a direct part in hostilities where:-
a) there is a genuine military need to deploy their unit or ship to an area in which hostilities are taking place; and
b) by reason of the nature and urgency of the situation:-
i) it is not practicable to withdraw such persons before deployment; or
ii) to do so would undermine the operational effectiveness of their ship or unit, and thereby put at risk the successful completion of the military mission and/or the safety of other personnel. 
United Kingdom, Declaration made upon signature and confirmed upon ratification of the 2000 Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, 7 September 2000 and 24 June 2003.
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
In 2003, in a written reply to questions in the House of Commons, the UK Secretary of State for International Development stated:
International humanitarian law, as embodied in the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their Additional Protocols, prohibits the recruitment or use of children under 15 in armed conflict and provides for the protection of children, particularly those separated from their families. The Statute of the International Criminal Court, to which the UK is a state party and which has been incorporated into national law, makes the recruitment and/or use of children under 15 a war crime.
The European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, now enshrined in the Human Rights Act 1998, forbids the use of torture, inhuman or degrading treatment which may include the forcing of children to take part in hostilities.
The UK is a Party to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which makes particular provision for the protection of all children under 18 years. It prescribes that the best interests of the child should be a primary consideration, severely restricts the circumstances in which children may be removed from their parents and protects children against arbitrary interference with their privacy and liberty. This Convention, along with International Labour Organisation Convention 182 (which the UK has ratified), prohibits the use of children in the worst forms of labour; and Convention 182 specifically prohibits the forced or compulsory recruitment of children for use in armed conflict.
The UK expects to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict later this year. This provides that states parties must take all feasible measures to ensure that members of their armed forces who have not attained the age of 18 years do not take a direct part in hostilities, and that children under 18 years are not compulsorily recruited into their armed forces. Non-state actors, such as insurgent groups, are prohibited from ever recruiting or using in hostilities children under 18. We take the Protocol seriously. That is why before we ratify, we need to be clear that the detailed procedures and administrative guidelines for the armed forces are finalised. These will give concrete form to our commitment. MOD [Ministry of Defence] officials, in consultation with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, are in the final stages of drafting an Explanatory Memorandum which will explain the steps being taken to meet that commitment. As part of the ratification process, we will lay the Explanatory Memorandum (EM) before Parliament. This does not require any changes to UK legislation.
The UK has many laws that prohibit the activities usually associated with the use of child soldiers, such as assault, forcing a child to perform illegal acts, deprivation of their liberty and making children take harmful drugs and alcohol.
The most effective way of tackling the use of child soldiers is to prevent, reduce and resolve armed conflicts. This is part of the wider issue of the impact of armed conflict on children generally, their families and communities. In addressing this, my Department is working with other UK Government Departments and other governments through appropriate regional mechanisms, the non-governmental community and the multilateral system to this end. UNICEF, with the support of my Department and other governments, works to effect the disarmament, demobilisation and rehabilitation of child soldiers, particularly back into the community and prevent their re-recruitment. Through a multi-year capacity building programme supported by my Department, UNICEF are collecting data on the situation of children affected by armed conflict globally, to better inform policy, guidance and programming on the wide range of issues involved.
My Department has also been supporting the work of the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Children and Armed Conflict, whose work (primarily of advocacy and raising awareness of the issues at all levels) features prominently in the Secretary-General’s report of 26 November 2002 to the Security Council on this issue.
Through its representation on the Security Council, the Government have been closely involved in the passing of eight resolutions since August 1999 addressing the issue of child soldiers and other children affected by armed conflict, and are currently involved in negotiations for a further resolution to strengthen the ability of the international community to take action to prevent the recruitment and use of children in armed conflicts. Along with the vast majority of other states, the Government have also ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and is taking steps to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention preventing the use of children in armed conflict. 
United Kingdom, House of Commons, Written answers by the Secretary of State for International Development, Hansard, 30 January 2003, Vol. 398, Written Answers, cols. 965W–966W.
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
In 2003, in a written ministerial statement in the House of Commons, the UK Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, stated:
Officials in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Ministry of Defence have completed all the necessary work to enable the Government to proceed to ratify the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict.
We intend to complete the ratification process with the United Nations as soon as possible. To begin the formal process, I have today laid before Parliament an Explanatory Memorandum which explains the steps taken to meet our commitment to the provisions of the Protocol.
In particular, since 1 September 2002 Army personnel under 18 are no longer routinely deployed on operations outside the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, although they may continue to participate in purely humanitarian missions where no hostile forces are involved. Furthermore, all three Services now have procedures in place to ensure that, wherever it is feasible to do so without undermining operational effectiveness or the safety of personnel, under 18s are removed from their units when there is deemed to be a greater than low risk of direct involvement in hostilities. 
United Kingdom, House of Commons, Written ministerial statement by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Hansard, 24 February 2003, Vol. 400, Written Ministerial Statements, col. 8WS.
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
In 2006, in a written answer to a question in the House of Commons concerning UN Security Council resolution 1612, the UK Minister of State for Trade, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, stated:
UN Security Council resolution 1612 deals with the recruitment of child soldiers, and calls for the monitoring of this practice in a number of countries including, Sri Lanka. Officials regularly make clear that the use of child soldiers in Sri Lanka cannot be tolerated and will continue to make such representations. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has identified the rights of the child as one of its top three human rights priorities. The UK has supported the establishment of a UN monitoring and reporting mechanism on children affected by armed conflict and is actively involved in the UN Security Council working group on children and armed conflict. We welcome the efforts of the UN Secretary-General’s special representative on children and armed conflict, and promote the ratification of the UN convention on the rights of the child and its optional protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict. 
United Kingdom, House of Commons, Written answer by the Minister of State for Trade, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Hansard, 9 October 2006, Vol. 450, Written Answers, col. 458W.
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
In 2007, 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, the United Kingdom stated:
Introduction
1. The United Kingdom ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict (the Optional Protocol) on 24 June 2003 and remains firmly committed to it. We recognize the importance of providing special treatment for young people under the age of 18 serving in the armed forces and accordingly we have robust and effective safeguards in place to ensure they are cared for properly and are not placed unnecessarily at risk. Every feasible step is taken in accordance with our obligations to prevent the involvement of young people under the age of 18 (under 18s) in hostilities.
2. The Government’s understanding of its obligations is clarified by the interpretive declaration it made upon signature and confirmed upon ratification. This made clear that the British Armed Forces would continue to recruit from age 16 but included a clear commitment to take all feasible measures to ensure those who had not yet reached the age of 18 did not take a direct part in hostilities. Accordingly, administrative guidelines and procedures are now in place to ensure that, wherever practicable, personnel aged under18 are withdrawn from their units before they are deployed on operations.
3. The introduction of the new administrative guidelines and procedures have been very successful in reducing the number of under 18s who have deployed into areas where they may be exposed to hostilities, with only 18 personnel aged under 18 deployed since the Optional Protocol was signed in 2003 (all of these from the Army) and none since July 2005. The vast majority of those that were deployed were within one week of their eighteenth birthdays or were removed from theatre within a week of their arrival. Only 4 under 18s were deployed for a period of greater than two weeks, which is a remarkably small number given that the United Kingdom has deployed well over 100,000 personnel on operations during the same period.
6. The most relevant provision of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) concerns the recruitment of children aged 15 into the armed forces. This Convention predates, and was largely superseded by, the provisions of the Optional Protocol. The Government considers that the above safeguards provide sufficient protection to under 18s serving in the armed forces and that they enable the United Kingdom to comply with its obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, including article 38, as well as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights.
Article 1
Participation in hostilities
7. The term “direct participation” is not used in United Kingdom legislation, as there is no relevant legislation covering this concept. In practice, it is understood that a person is taking a direct part in hostilities if they are deployed on operations where hostile forces are involved.
8. Once they have entered the armed forces, all recruits must undergo basic general military training followed by a period of more specialized professional training before joining the trained strength and thus becoming liable for employment in military operations. This training is thorough and takes time and so the number of personnel under the age of 18 on the trained strength has always over the last decade tended to be small; at 1 April 2007 it was 730 (90 Royal Navy, 630 Army and 10 Royal Air Force) which represented only 0.5 per cent of the total trained strength of the armed forces. Very few of these personnel (i.e. of those both under the age of 18 and on the trained strength) are posted to higher readiness (i.e. front line) units which are those liable to be deployed into actual combat. Therefore, the likelihood of service personnel under the age of 18 taking a direct part in hostilities is very small, even before the introduction of new protective measures which will serve to reduce the risk even further.
9. These measures include the introduction of single-service administrative guidelines and procedures … , and the newly revised and reissued Policy on the Care of Service Personnel under the Age of 18 … In addition:
- Service personnel under the age of 18 are not routinely deployed on any operations outside the United Kingdom, except where the operation does not involve personnel becoming engaged in, or exposed to, hostilities;
- Whilst Army personnel under the age of 18 may continue to undertake a limited range of duties with resident units in Northern Ireland, they do not participate in activities in direct support of the civil powers;
- Members of the Naval Service under the age of 18 are not permitted to deploy on operations in the land environment;
- Members of the Naval Service under the age of 17 are not drafted to operational ships or Royal Marine units;
- Under 18s are not deployed as aircrew;
- In line with United Nations policy, personnel under the age of 18 are not deployed on United Nations peacekeeping operations.
10. However, some units, especially ships and submarines of the Royal Navy already deployed away from the United Kingdom, may find themselves diverted at very short notice from normal peacetime duties around the world to operations in which there is a genuine risk of direct involvement in hostilities. In these circumstances, it might not always be feasible to remove or replace personnel: either because the geographic location of the vessel or unit makes their removal physically impossible, or because it would not be practicable to remove them from their units without undermining its operational effectiveness or risking the successful completion of the mission and/or the safety of other personnel. But the Government does not consider their deployment in these circumstances to be inconsistent with its obligations under article 1 of the Optional Protocol. The United Kingdom explained its interpretation of article 1 in the declaration it made at the time of signature. The purpose of this declaration was simply to cover such rare occurrences and is not a signal of intent to deploy under 18s contrary to the spirit and terms of the Protocol. Such instances and the numbers involved are likely to be very few, partly for the reasons set out above and also because the armed forces will continue their previous policies and practices to protect those members under the age of 18.
11. Unfortunately, our processes are not infallible and the pressures on units prior to deployment have meant that there have been instances where soldiers have been inadvertently deployed to an operational theatre before their eighteenth birthday. To prevent further occurrences, the operational location (OPLOC) system used for tracking personnel when they arrive in the operational theatre provides a warning message when someone who is under 18 is entered, and daily checks are conducted to ensure that under 18s have not entered an operational theatre.
12. As a direct result of the measures we have taken, the number of personnel under 18 deployed on operations has reduced from approximately 300 between 1999 and 2003 to only 18 since the Optional Protocol was ratified in 2003. None have been deployed since July 2005. The vast majority of those who were deployed were within one week of their eighteenth birthdays or were removed from theatre within a week of their arrival. Only four under 18s were deployed for a period of greater than two weeks. Although these procedures have proved themselves to be robust, we are investigating the scope for using new information technology (IT) systems to reduce still further the risk of unintentional deployments. None of these personnel aged under 18 was taken prisoner whilst deployed.
Article 6
Implementation and enforcement
52. We were satisfied at the time of ratification that the provisions of the Optional Protocol were already fully implemented in United Kingdom policies and procedures and therefore no amendment to legislation was required to give effect to the Protocol in domestic law. For the same reasons, no subsequent review of domestic legislation has been necessary. There are no plans to remove the reservations lodged at the time of ratification. Details of the new protective measures that have been introduced to reduce the risk of under 18s being involved in hostilities are set out in paragraphs 8 to 11 above.
60. No legal provisions criminalizing the recruitment of children have been adopted, as that is not necessary to ensure the effective implementation and enforcement of the Optional Protocol within the United Kingdom. 
United Kingdom, Initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, UN Doc. CCPR/C/OPAC/GBR/1, 3 September 2007, submitted 16 July 2007, §§ 1–3, 6–12, 52 and 60.
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
In 2007, in its combined third and fourth periodic reports to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, the United Kingdom stated:
629. The United Kingdom ratified the [2000] Optional Protocol [on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict] on 24 June 2003 and remains firmly committed to it. The UK Government recognises the importance of providing special treatment for children under the age of 18 serving in the Armed Forces and the need to have robust and effective safeguards in place to ensure they are not placed unnecessarily at risk.
630. The UK Government made a further declaration upon ratification relating to the involvement of under 18s in hostilities. This included a clear commitment to take all feasible measures to ensure those who had not yet reached the age of 18 years old do not take a direct part in hostilities. Accordingly, administrative guidelines and procedures are now in place to ensure that, wherever practicable, under 18s are withdrawn from their units before they are deployed on operations. The introduction of these guidelines have been successful in reducing the number of under 18s who have deployed into areas where they may be exposed to hostilities, with only eighteen children (aged under 18) deployed since the Optional Protocol was signed in 2003 (all of these from the Army) and none since July 2005. The vast majority of those that were deployed were within one week of their eighteenth birthdays or were removed from theatre within a week of their arrival. Only four under 18s were deployed for a period of greater than two weeks compared to well over 100,000 adult personnel deployed by the UK on operations during the same period. The declaration also set out a number of exceptional and well-defined circumstances in which it might not be feasible to prevent the direct involvement of under 18s in hostilities. There are no plans to withdraw this declaration. 
United Kingdom, Third and fourth periodic reports to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, 25 February 2008, UN Doc. CRC/C/GBR/4, submitted 16 July 2007, §§ 629–630.
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
In 2007, in a written answer to a question in the House of Commons, the UK Minister of State for the Middle East, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, stated:
We have been seriously concerned by reports that have criticised parties to the Sri Lanka conflict including the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and the Karuna faction for the recruitment and use of child soldiers in violation of applicable international law. We deplore this practice: there can be no excuse for failing to observe such basic human rights. The UK is a member of the UN Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict. We fully support the Working Group’s conclusions of 13 June 2007, which strongly condemned the unlawful recruitment and use of child soldiers and all other violations and abuses committed against children by the LTTE and the Karuna faction and called for an immediate end to these practices. 
United Kingdom, House of Commons, Written answer by the Minister of State for Middle East, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Hansard, 29 October 2007, Vol. 465, Written Answers, cols. 825W–826W.
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
In 2008, in its written replies to the issues raised by the Committee on the Rights of the Child with regard to the UK’s initial report under the 2000 Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, the UK stated:
The interpretive declaration made by the United Kingdom (UK) [on Article 1 of the 2000 Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict] included a clear commitment to take all feasible measures to ensure members of the Armed Forces who have not yet reached the age of 18 years old do not take a direct part in hostilities. Accordingly, administrative guidelines and procedures are in place to ensure that under-18s are withdrawn before their units are deployed on operations. There are no plans to withdraw or amend the declaration. 
United Kingdom, Written replies from the Government of the United Kingdom to the Committee on the Rights of the Child concerning the list of issues to be taken up in connection with the initial report of the United Kingdom under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, 4 September 2008, UN Doc. CRC/C/OPAC/GBR/Q/1/Add.1, submitted 1 September 2008, § 1.
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
In 2009, in response to a question in the House of Commons, the UK Secretary of State for Defence wrote:
There are no plans to review the operation of the interpretative declaration on article 1 of the [2000] Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict. Government policy is that Service Personnel under the age of 18 are not routinely deployed on operations outside the UK. The exception to this is where the operation does not involve personnel becoming engaged in or exposed to hostilities, such as disaster relief. The MOD [Ministry of Defence] believes that its policies on under 18s are robust and compliant with national and international law. We remain fully committed to meeting our obligations under the [Optional Protocol to the] United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict. 
United Kingdom, House of Commons, Written Statement by the Secretary of State for Defence, Hansard, 13 October 2009, Vol. 497, Written Statements, col. 795W.
United States of America
In 1987, the deputy legal adviser of the US Department of State affirmed: “We support … the principle that … all feasible measures be taken in order that children under the age of fifteen do not take a direct part in hostilities.” 
United States, Remarks of Michael J. Matheson, Deputy Legal Adviser, US Department of State, The Sixth Annual American Red Cross-Washington College of Law Conference on International Humanitarian Law: A Workshop on Customary International Law and the 1977 Protocols Additional to the 1949 Geneva Conventions, American University Journal of International Law and Policy, Vol. 2, 1987, p. 428.
United States of America
In 1996, during a debate in the UN Security Council on the situation in Liberia, the United States stated that “the era of the child soldier in Liberia must come to an end immediately” and that it “is an outrage by any standard of civilization that children under the age of 15, numbering between 4,000 and 6,000, are toting automatic weapons, slaughtering innocent civilians and ignoring the rule of law”. It denounced again what it called this “abhorrent practice”. 
United States, Statement before the UN Security Council, UN Doc. S/PV.3694, 30 August 1996, pp. 5 and 15.
United States of America
According to the Report on US Practice, “Articles 4, 5 and 6 [of the 1977 Additional Protocol II] reflect general US policy on treatment of persons in the power of an adverse party in armed conflicts governed by common Article 3” of the 1949 Geneva Conventions. The report also notes: “It is the opinio juris of the US that persons detained in connection with an internal armed conflict are entitled to humane treatment as specified in Articles 4, 5 and 6 [of the 1977 Additional Protocol II].” 
Report on US Practice, 1997, Chapter 5.3.
United States of America
In 2005, in its third periodic report to the Human Rights Committee, the United States stated:
Prior to U.S. ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on [the Involvement of] Children in Armed Conflict [which came into effect for the United States on 23 January, 2003], it was the practice of the U.S. Department of Defense that individuals under the age of 18 should not be stationed in combat situations. See Regular Army and Army Reserve Enlistment Program, Army Regulation 601-210, Headquarters, Department of the Army, 1 December 1988, Chapter 2. However, coincident with ratification of the Optional Protocol, each branch of the U.S. military has adopted policies that fulfill the obligation assumed by the United States under the Optional Protocol that all feasible measures should be taken to ensure that persons under the age of 18 do not take a direct part in hostilities. 
United States, Third periodic report to the Human Rights Committee, 29 November 2005, UN Doc. CCPR/C/USA/3, § 378.
United States of America
In 2007, 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, the United States stated:
To implement the terms of Article 1 of the Protocol, U.S. Military Services have adopted an implementation plan. The implementation plans have been tailored to meet the unique mission requirements of each Service. The implementation plans went into effect in January 2003. The plans relate to the date (not year) of birth of the individual. Summaries of each Service implementation plan … follow:
Army. The Army will not assign soldiers outside the United States, either on permanent or temporary duty orders, until they reach their eighteenth birthdate. For those soldiers under eighteen who were already overseas at the time the implementation plan went into effect, commanders were to take all feasible measures to ensure these soldiers not take a direct part in hostilities until they reached 18 years of age.
Navy. Sailors who have not reached their eighteenth birthdate will not be assigned to ships and squadrons that are scheduled to deploy at a date earlier than their eighteenth birthday.
Air Force. The Air Force will not assign airmen who have not reached their eighteenth birthdate to hostile fire/imminent danger areas.
Marine Corps. The Marine Corps has directed commanders who have operational and administrative control of Marines who have not reached their eighteenth birthdate to track and manage the assignment of those Marines such that all feasible measures are taken to ensure they do not take a direct part in hostilities. This responsibility may not be delegated below the battalion or squadron commander level. 
United States, Initial Report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, U.N. Doc. CRC/C/OPAC/USA/1 (2007), 22 June 2007, submitted on 8 May 2007, § 17.
United States of America
In May 2008, in a joint press briefing given in Geneva by the US Ambassador-at-Large and Director, Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, and by the Deputy Assistant Secretary, Detainee Affairs, Department of Defense, the Defense representative stated:
[T]he vast majority of all individuals who do voluntarily serve in the [US] military are 18 or older when they begin; more than 90 percent.
Even within that category for those who are 17, generally their training is concluded by the time they hit their 18th birthday, and in the instances where it is not we have put in effect policies that take all feasible measures to ensure that no one at the age of 17 takes direct participation in hostilities.
So as part of our acceding to this protocol [2000 Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict] and taking this responsibly, we’ve gone through a number of revisions to the way in which we use our armed forces and to take those exceptional measures to ensure that we have in fact taken all feasible measures to ensure that a 17 year old does not take direct participation in hostilities; exactly as is required under the optional protocol. 
United States, Statement by the Deputy Assistant Secretary, Detainee Affairs, Department of Defense, at a press briefing with the Ambassador-at-Large and Director, Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, Geneva, 21 May 2008.
Uruguay
Upon ratification of the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child, Uruguay stated that “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”. 
Uruguay, Declarations made upon ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, 20 November 1990, reprinted in UN Doc. CRC/C/2/Rev.4, 28 July 1995, p. 32.
Uruguay
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 … participation in armed conflicts of persons under 18 years of age”. 
Uruguay, Pledge made at the 27th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, Geneva, 31 October–6 November 1999.
Uruguay
In 2003, in its second periodic report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Uruguay stated: “Article 13 of the new children’s code specifically provides that children and young people cannot participate in hostilities in armed conflicts or be trained for that purpose.” 
Uruguay, Second periodic report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, 13 October 2006, UN Doc. CRC/C/URY/2, submitted 18 December 2003, § 327.
Uzbekistan
In 2010, in its combined third and fourth periodic reports to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Uzbekistan stated:
The definition of the child in article 3 of the [2008 Rights of the Child (Safeguards)] Act fully coincides with the one provided in article 1 of the [1989] Convention [on the Rights of the Child], namely every human being below the age of 18 unless, under the law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier. 
Uzbekistan, Combined third and fourth periodic reports to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, 26 January 2012, UN Doc. CRC/C/UZB/3-4, submitted 22 February 2010, § 310.
In the report, Uzbekistan also stated: “Since every child has an inalienable right to life and health care, Uzbekistan opposes children’s participation in armed conflicts and their recruitment for military service.” 
Uzbekistan, Combined third and fourth periodic reports to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, 26 January 2012, UN Doc. CRC/C/UZB/3-4, submitted 22 February 2010, § 919.
Uzbekistan
In 2011, 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, Uzbekistan stated:
Uzbekistan opposes the recruitment and use of children in armed conflicts in violation of the rules of international law and has established criminal liability for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes with a view to safeguarding the life, health and welfare of children and protecting their interests. 
Uzbekistan, Initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, 26 January 2012, UN Doc. CRC/C/OPAC/UZB/1, submitted 24 January 2011, § 12.
In the report, Uzbekistan also stated:
26. Uzbekistan acceded to the [2000] Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict on 12 December 2008, the year that marked the sixtieth anniversary of the [1948] Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Optional Protocol entered into force in the territory of Uzbekistan on 23 January 2009.
68. Inasmuch as the legislation of Uzbekistan is in complete conformity with the provisions of article 38 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict, it is planned to intensify informational/awareness-raising, educational and publishing activities in this field, improve the efficiency of the national system for monitoring observance of the rights of the child, including in matters covered by the Optional Protocol, and stimulate the social partnership between the State and civil society institutions in this sphere.
Article 1
69. Uzbekistan fully recognizes and supports the provisions of the Protocol intended to ensure that servicemen who have not attained the age of 18 years do not take a direct part in hostilities. 
Uzbekistan, Initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, 26 January 2012, UN Doc. CRC/C/OPAC/UZB/1, submitted 24 January 2011, §§ 26 and 68–69.
Venezuela
In 2011, 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, Venezuela stated:
I. Introduction
6. This report describes the measures taken by the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to follow all the parameters established by the United Nations for effectively protecting children and adolescents throughout the country, so as to ensure that they … are not recruited or drafted into compulsory military service.
III. Commitments undertaken by the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela upon ratifying the Optional Protocol: information on articles 1 to 7
A. Article 1
1. Legislative measures to prohibit the direct participation of children and adolescents in hostilities
23. With regard to the primary obligation mentioned in article 1 of the [2000] Optional Protocol [on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict], on measures to prohibit the participation of children and adolescents in hostilities, the Organic Act on Child Protection requires the Government to ensure that all legislation relating to the content of and limits on the rights and guarantees of children and adolescents is in line with the express provisions of the Convention, as well as other international treaties and instruments.
24. The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela has amended its legislation, including article 78 of the 1999 Constitution [on the protection of children], to deal specifically with this issue. The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela has adopted the doctrine of comprehensive protection of children and adolescents, as embodied in the Organic Act on Child Protection, which provides protection for children and adolescents from the moment of conception to the age of 18 years.
25. The current Civil Code, which was passed in 1982, includes the following: Book I, Of Individuals. Title I. Of individuals in general and individuals in regard to their nationality. Chapter I, of individuals in general, article 18: An individual is an adult when he or she reaches the age of eighteen (18). An adult has capacity for all acts of civil life, with the exceptions established in special provisions.
27. Article 4 of the Act amending the Conscription and Military Enlistment Act7 sets the age of military service, as follows: “For the purposes of this Act, the age for military service shall be between 18 and 60 years. Consequently, Venezuelans included in this age group shall be required to register and shall be eligible for military service.”
28. The Venezuelan Government has always respected the fundamental rights of all children and adolescents living within the national territory. During the period covered by this report, 2003–2010, no cases have arisen in which children and adolescents have taken a direct part in armed hostilities, nor have they been forcibly recruited into the National Bolivarian Armed Forces. This is in line with article 1 of the Optional Protocol.
31. Pursuant to article 23 of the Constitution and bearing in mind that it is a party to the [1989] Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela undertook, in its periodic report of 2006 to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, to guarantee the human rights of all children and adolescents in the country. In particular, it referred to the prohibition against supplying or facilitating weapons of war, ammunition or explosives to children and adolescents.
32. The laws adopted by the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela on this matter include the Organic Act on Child Protection. Article 92(d) of that Act, in the section on the rights, guarantees and duties of children, includes the prohibition against selling or facilitating weapons, ammunition and explosives to children and adolescents. Anyone who fails to comply with or violates this rule shall be subject to a criminal penalty, on the grounds of failing to provide due protection …
33. In keeping with the spirit and purpose of the Optional Protocol, article 79(b) of the Organic Act on Child Protection, on prohibitions designed to protect the right to information and to a healthy environment, prohibits the sale or facilitation to children and adolescents or the public exhibition, through any type of multimedia, books, magazines, etc., of any information that advocates violence and incites children and adolescents to participate in armed conflict.
2. Other legislative measures designed to prevent the participation of children and adolescents in hostilities
35. The Organic Act on the National Bolivarian Armed Forces stipulates, in article 52, that military service is open to all Venezuelan men and women of military age. Article 50 provides that members of combat forces must be male and female citizens who work in public or private institutions and volunteer to be registered, organized and trained by the general military command, provided they are over 18 years of age. Article 51 stipulates that the territorial militia shall be made up of male and female citizens over the age of 18 years, who voluntarily organize to perform duties relating to the comprehensive defence of the nation, in accordance with the principle of shared responsibility between the Government and society.
C. Article 3
2. State protection for children and adolescents who choose private and/or public military educational units
72. The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela offers the necessary protection to children and adolescents who choose to enrol in private and public military educational units. Accordingly, the fundamental protection provided is to be found in the Constitution, the Organic Act on Child Protection and the Organic Act on Education, which safeguard the personal wellbeing of Venezuelan children by not allowing military exercises that endanger the lives of children and adolescents and not allowing them to participate in military operations during armed conflicts.
D. Article 4
1. Armed groups and legislative measures
73. Concerning the obligation of the Venezuelan State not to allow any armed group to recruit or use children and adolescents in hostilities, legislation has been passed that clearly and categorically prohibits all armed groups from enlisting or recruiting children and adolescents. Moreover, any such activity constitutes an infringement of the duty to provide protection and gives rise to punitive action.
74. There are no armed groups in the territory of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, and there have been no reports of children or adolescents having participated in armed conflicts, either in the past or at present.
76. One of the main goals of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is to build a just and peace-loving society. Consequently, there are no irregular armed groups that might recruit children and adolescents for the purpose of involving them in armed conflict.
104. The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela respects the rights of all children and adolescents and therefore is in full agreement with the provisions of inter-American humanitarian law, which has been the underlying premise for encouraging, promoting and respecting their fundamental guarantees. International humanitarian law provides that minors, especially those who are under 15 years of age, must not participate directly in hostilities …
F. Article 6
2. Implementation of the [2000] Optional Protocol [on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict]. Case of the Hacienda Daktary paramilitary forces
110. Article 6, paragraph 3 of the Optional Protocol provides that “States Parties shall take all feasible measures to ensure that persons within their jurisdiction recruited or used in hostilities contrary to this Protocol are demobilized or otherwise released from service. States Parties shall, when necessary, accord to these persons all appropriate assistance for their physical and psychological recovery and their social reintegration.”
111. The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela was the first State party to implement the Optional Protocol, thus fulfilling its obligation to comply with international human rights instruments. It has been recognized by organizations such as the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) for its efforts to protect children and adolescents. It has implemented its comprehensive protection systems to safeguard the human rights of children and adolescents, providing them appropriate treatment as victims at all times. This was the case in 2004, when paramilitary forces that included adolescents were discovered at a property near Caracas. 
Venezuela, Initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, 12 September 2013, UN Doc. CRC/C/OPAC/VEN/1, submitted 5 July 2011, §§ 6, 23–25, 27–28, 31–33, 35, 72–74, 76, 104 and 110–111.
[footnote in original omitted]
Viet Nam
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, Initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, UN Doc. CRC/C/OPAC/VNM/1, 12 December 2005, submitted 8 November 2005, § 40.
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”. 
Viet Nam, Initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, 12 December 2005, UN Doc. CRC/C/OPAC/VNM/1, submitted 8 November 2005, § 59.
Subsequently, the Committee on the Rights of the Child asked Viet Nam to clarify the information contained in that concluding statement. 
Committee on the Rights of the Child, Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, List of issues for the State party to be taken up in connection with the consideration of the initial report of Viet Nam (CRC/C/OPAC/VNM/1), UN Doc CRC/C/OPAC/VNM/Q/1, 20 June 2006, § 3.
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. 
Viet Nam, Written replies by the Government of Viet Nam concerning the list of issues (CRC/C/OPAC/VNM/Q/1) received by the Committee on the Rights of the Child relating to the consideration of the Initial report of Viet Nam under Article 8(1) of the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict (CRC/C/OPAC/VNM/1), 28 August 2006, UN Doc. CRC/C/OPAC/VNM/Q/1/Add. 1, submitted 28 August 2006, p. 2.
Zimbabwe
In 2013, in its second periodic report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Zimbabwe stated:
In terms of the National Service Act … persons can volunteer to join the army only at the age of 18 years. Where an emergency arises, the law obliges the government to recruit persons of 18 years and above for national service. The minimum age of participation in hostilities is therefore 18 years. 
Zimbabwe, Second periodic report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, 13 April 2015, UN Doc. CRC/C/ZWE/2, submitted 27 May 2013, § 374.
UN Security Council
In a resolution adopted in 1996 on Liberia, the UN Security Council condemned the practice of some factions of “deploying children for combat”. It referred to such practice as “inhumane and abhorrent”. 
UN Security Council, Res. 1071, 30 August 1996, § 9, voting record: 15-0-0.
In a further resolution adopted the same year on the same subject, the Security Council also condemned in the strongest possible terms the practice of “deploying children for combat” and demanded that the warring parties “immediately cease this inhumane and abhorrent activity”. 
UN Security Council, Res. 1083, 27 November 1996, § 6, voting record: 15-0-0.
UN Security Council
In a resolution adopted in 1999 on children and armed conflict, the UN Security Council strongly condemned “the targeting of children in situations of armed conflict, including … use of children in armed conflict in violation of international law”. 
UN Security Council, Res. 1261, 25 August 1999, § 2, voting record: 15-0-0.
UN Security Council
In a resolution adopted in 2003 on children and armed conflict, the UN Security Council:
Noting the fact that the conscription or enlistment of children under the age of 15 into the national armed forces or using them to participate actively in hostilities is classified as a war crime by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, …
3. Calls upon all parties to armed conflict, who are recruiting or using children in violation of the international obligations applicable to them, to immediately halt such recruitment or use of children;
5. Notes with concern the list [annexed to the report of the Secretary-General of 26 November 2002, related to the protection of children affected by armed conflict], and calls upon all States identified in this list to provide information on steps they have taken to halt their recruitment or use of children in armed conflict in violation of the international obligations applicable to them. 
UN Security Council, Res. 1460, 30 January 2003, preamble and §§ 3 and 5, voting record: 15-0-0.
UN Security Council
In a resolution adopted in 2003 on the situation concerning the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the UN Security Council:
Reiterates its demand expressed in its resolution 1460 that all parties to the conflict provide information without delay on steps they have taken to halt their recruitment or use of children in armed conflict in violation of the international obligations applicable to them, as well as its demands with regard to the protection of children contained in its resolutions 1261, 1314, 1379 and 1460. 
UN Security Council, Res. 1468, 20 March 2003, § 15, voting record: 15-0-0.
UN Security Council
In a resolution adopted in 2003 on the situation in Liberia, the UN Security Council called upon “the Government of Liberia and all parties, particularly the LURD [Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy] and other armed rebel groups … to end the use of child soldiers and to prevent sexual violence and torture”. 
UN Security Council, Res. 1478, 6 May 2003, § 8., voting record: 15-0-0.
UN Security Council
In a resolution adopted in 2003 on the situation in Côte d’Ivoire, the UN Security Council demanded that “in accordance with its resolution 1460 (2003), all parties to the conflict who are recruiting or using children in violation of the international obligations applicable to them, immediately halt such recruitment or use of children”. 
UN Security Council, Res. 1479, 13 May 2003, § 15, voting record: 15-0-0.
UN Security Council
In a resolution on the situation concerning the Democratic Republic of the Congo adopted in 2003, the UN Security Council:
Strongly condemns the continued recruitment and use of children in the hostilities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, especially in North and South Kivu and in Ituri, and reiterates the request addressed to all the parties, in Security Council resolution 1460 (2003) to provide the Special Representative of the Secretary-General with information on the measures that they have taken to put an end to the recruitment and use of children in their armed components, as well as the requests concerning the protection of children set forth in resolution 1261 (1999) and subsequent resolutions. 
UN Security Council, Res. 1493, 28 July 2003, § 13, voting record: 15-0-0.
UN Security Council
In a resolution adopted in 2003 on the situation in Liberia, the UN Security Council:
Gravely concerned by the use of child soldiers by armed rebel militias, government forces, and other militias,
9. Recognizes the importance of the protection of children in armed conflict, in accordance with its resolution 1379 (2001) and related resolutions;
10. Demands that all parties cease all use of child soldiers, that all parties cease all human rights violations and atrocities against the Liberia population, and stresses the need to bring to justice those responsible. 
UN Security Council, Res. 1509, 19 September 2003, preamble and §§ 9 and 10, voting record: 15-0-0.
UN Security Council
In a resolution adopted in 2004 on children and armed conflict, the UN Security Council:
Noting the fact that the conscription or enlistment of children under the age of 15 or using them to participate actively in hostilities in both international and non-international armed conflict is classified as a war crime by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, …
1. Strongly condemns the recruitment and use of child soldiers by parties to armed conflict in violation of international obligations applicable to them, …
5. Takes note with deep concern of the continued recruitment and use of children by parties mentioned in the Secretary-General’s report [of 10 November 2003] in situations of armed conflict which are on its agenda, in violation of applicable international law relating to the rights and protection of children …
6. Also takes note with deep concern of the continued recruitment and use of children by parties in other situations of armed conflict mentioned in the Secretary-General’s report, in violation of applicable international law relating to the rights and protection of children, calls on these parties to halt immediately their recruitment or use of children and expresses, on the basis of timely, objective, accurate and reliable information received from relevant stakeholders, its intention to consider taking appropriate steps to further address this issue, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, its resolutions 1379 (2001) and 1460 (2003) and the present resolution. 
UN Security Council, Res. 1539, 22 April 2004, preamble and §§ 1 and 5–6, voting record: 15-0-0.
UN Security Council
In a resolution adopted in 2005 on children and armed conflict, the UN Security Council:
1. Strongly condemns the recruitment and use of child soldiers by parties to armed conflict in violation of international obligations applicable to them and all other violations and abuses committed against children in situations of armed conflict;
16. Urges Member States, United Nations entities, regional and subregional organizations and other parties concerned, to take appropriate measures to control illicit subregional and cross-border activities harmful to children, including illicit exploitation of natural resources, illicit trade in small arms, abduction of children and their use and recruitment as soldiers as well as other violations and abuses committed against children in situations of armed conflict in violation of applicable international law. 
UN Security Council, Res. 1612, 26 July 2005, §§ 1 and 16, voting record: 15-0-0.
UN Security Council
In a resolution adopted in 2005 on the situation in Côte d’Ivoire, the UN Security Council reiterated “its firm condemnation of all violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, including the use of child soldiers, in Côte d’Ivoire”.  
UN Security Council, Res. 1643, 15 December 2005, preamble, voting record: 15-0-0.
UN Security Council
In a resolution adopted in 2006 on the protection of civilians in armed conflict, the UN Security Council:
Reaffirms also its condemnation in the strongest terms of all acts of violence or abuses committed against civilians in situations of armed conflict in violation of applicable international obligations with respect in particular to … (iv) the recruitment and use of child soldiers … and demands that all parties put an end to such practices. 
UN Security Council, Res. 1674, 28 April 2006, § 5, voting record: 15-0-0.
UN Security Council
In a resolution adopted in 2006 on the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the UN Security Council:
12. Recalls the terms of paragraph 13 of resolution 1493, and once again strongly condemns the continued use and recruitment of children in the hostilities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo;
13. Decides that, for a period expiring on 31 July 2007, the provisions of paragraphs 13 to 16 of resolution 1596 [referring to the requirement of States to take measures to prevent the entry into or transit through their territories of certain individuals] shall extend to the following individuals, operating in the Democratic Republic of the Congo …
– Political and military leaders recruiting or using children in armed conflict in violation of applicable international law;
– Individuals committing serious violations of international law involving the targeting of children in situations of armed conflict, including killing and maiming, sexual violence, abduction and forced displacement. 
UN Security Council, Res. 1698, 31 July 2006, §§ 12–13, voting record: 15-0-0.
UN Security Council
In a resolution adopted in 2007 on the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the UN Security Council:
Recalling its resolution 1612 (2005) and its previous resolutions on children and armed conflict, and once again strongly condemning the continued recruitment and use of children in violation of applicable international law, in the hostilities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. 
UN Security Council, Res. 1771, 10 August 2007, preamble, voting record: 15-0-0.
UN Security Council
In a resolution adopted in 2007 on the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the UN Security Council:
3. … also demands, recalling its resolution 1698 (2006), that all armed groups, in particular the forces of Laurent Nkunda and the FDLR [Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda], immediately stop recruiting and using children and release all children associated with them;
15. Reiterates its call upon the Congolese authorities to put an end to impunity, by bringing to justice without delay perpetrators of grave violations of human rights and of international humanitarian law, with special attention to those responsible for recruitment and use of children. 
UN Security Council, Res. 1794, 21 December 2007, §§ 3 and 15, voting record: 15-0-0.
UN Security Council
In 1998, in a statement by its President, the UN Security Council stated:
The Security Council expresses its grave concern at the harmful impact of armed conflict on children.
The Security Council strongly condemns the … use [of children] in hostilities in violation of international law, and calls upon all parties concerned to put an end to such activities.
The Security Council calls upon all parties concerned to comply strictly with their obligations under international law, in particular their obligations under the Geneva Conventions of 1949, the Additional Protocols of 1977 and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child of 1989”. …
The UN Security Council, while dealing with situations of armed conflict, expresses its readiness … to support efforts aimed at obtaining commitments to put to an end the … use of children in armed conflicts. 
UN Security Council, Statement by the President, UN Doc. S/PRST/1998/18, 29 June 1998.
UN Security Council
In 1998, in a statement by its President, the UN Security Council condemned the use of child soldiers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. 
UN Security Council, Statement by the President, UN Doc. S/PRST/1998/26, 31 August 1998.
UN Security Council
In 2003, in a statement by its President on the situation in Côte d’Ivoire, the UN Security Council expressed its concern at “the continued existence of regional factors of instability, particularly the use of … child soldiers”. 
UN Security Council, Statement by the President, UN Doc. S/PRST/2003/7, 18 June 2003, p. 1.
UN Security Council
In 2004, in a statement by its President on the protection of civilians in armed conflict, the UN Security Council strongly condemned the “recruitment and use of child soldiers by parties to armed conflict in violation of international obligations applicable to them”. 
UN Security Council, Statement by the President, UN Doc. S/PRST/2004/46, 14 December 2004, p. 2.
UN Security Council
In 2005, in a statement by its President regarding children and armed conflict, the UN Security Council stated:
The Security Council has considered the matter of children and armed conflict and took note with deep concern of the continued recruitment and use of children by parties to armed conflict in violation of international obligations applicable to them, as reported by the Secretary-General in his fifth report (S/2005/72). It reiterates its commitment to address in all its forms the impact of armed conflict on children.
The Council reaffirms its strong condemnation of the recruitment and use of child soldiers by parties to armed conflict in violation of international obligations applicable to them and of all other violations and abuses committed against children in situations of armed conflict. It urges all parties to armed conflict to halt immediately such intolerable practices.
The Council recalls all its previous resolutions, which provide a comprehensive framework for addressing the protection of children affected by armed conflict. It reiterates its determination to ensure respect for its resolutions and other international norms and standards for the protection of children affected by armed conflict.
The Council recalls particularly paragraph 2 of its resolution 1539 (2004) dated 22 April 2004, requesting the Secretary-General, taking into account the proposals contained in his report as well as any other relevant elements, to devise urgently an action plan for a systematic and comprehensive monitoring and reporting mechanism, which utilizes expertise from the United Nations system and the contributions of national Governments, regional organizations, non-governmental organizations in their advisory capacity and various civil society actors, in order to provide timely, objective, accurate and reliable information on the recruitment and use of child soldiers in violation of applicable international law and on other violations and abuses committed against children affected by armed conflict, for consideration in taking appropriate action.
The Council takes note of the Secretary-General’s proposal for an Action Plan for the establishment of a monitoring, reporting and compliance mechanism, in accordance with this request and with paragraph 15 (b) of resolution 1539 (2004) and has started consideration of the Secretary- General’s proposal.
The Council reiterates the crucial need for a systematic and comprehensive monitoring and reporting mechanism, and its determination to ensure compliance and to put an end to impunity. The Council further reiterates its intention to complete expeditiously the process of the establishment of the mechanism.
In this regard, it has started work on a new resolution with the aim of its early adoption and with due consideration of views expressed by the United Nations Member States during the open debate held on 23 February 2005, in order to take forward the implementation of its previous resolutions with a view to ending the recruitment or use of child soldiers in violation of applicable international law and other violations and abuses committed against children affected by armed conflict situations, and promoting their reintegration and rehabilitation. 
UN Security Council, Statement by the President, UN Doc. S/PRST/2005/8, 23 February 2005, pp. 1–2.
UN Security Council
In 2006, in a statement by its President on children and armed conflict, the UN Security Council stated:
The Security Council strongly condemns the continuing recruitment and use of children in armed conflict in violation of applicable international law … by parties to armed conflict.
The Security Council also reiterates its call on relevant parties to armed conflict that have not already done so to prepare and implement, as a matter of priority, concrete time-bound action plans to halt recruitment and use of children in violation of applicable international law, as called for in Security Council resolution 1539 (2004). 
UN Security Council, Statement by the President, UN Doc. S/PRST/2006/48, 28 November 2006, p. 2.
UN General Assembly
In a resolution adopted in 1996 on the situation of human rights in the Sudan, the UN General Assembly expressed its deep concern about “the use of children as soldiers by all the parties, despite repeated calls from the international community to put an end to this practice”. 
UN General Assembly, Res. 51/112, 12 December 1996, preamble, voting record: 100-16-50-19.
UN General Assembly
In a resolution adopted in 2003 on Afghanistan, the UN General Assembly:
welcomes … the accession of the Transitional Administration on 24 September 2003 to the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict, and urges Afghan groups to refrain from the recruitment or use of children contrary to international standards, while stressing the importance of demobilizing and reintegrating child soldiers and other war-affected children. 
UN General Assembly, Res. 58/27 B, 5 December 2003, § 14, adopted without a vote.
UN General Assembly
In a resolution adopted in 2003 on special assistance for the economic recovery and reconstruction of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the UN General Assembly:
Urges all parties concerned in the region to cease any recruitment, training and use of child soldiers, which are contrary to international law, welcomes the initial steps taken by the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to demobilize and reintegrate child soldiers, in particular through education, and urges the Government and all parties to continue their efforts in this context, and to take into account the particular needs of girl ex-combatants. 
UN General Assembly, Res. 58/123, 17 December 2003, § 9, voting record: 169-1-0-21.
UN General Assembly
In a resolution adopted in 2003 on assistance to unaccompanied refugee minors, the UN General Assembly:
7. Calls upon all States and other parties to armed conflict to comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law, human rights law and refugee law and, in this regard, calls upon States parties to respect fully the provisions of the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 and related instruments, and to respect the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which accord children affected by armed conflict special protection and treatment;
8. Condemns all acts of exploitation of unaccompanied refugee minors, including their use as soldiers or human shields in armed conflict and their forced recruitment into military forces, and any other acts that endanger their safety and personal security.
9. Acknowledges that education is among the most effective initial means of ensuring protection for unaccompanied minors, especially girls, by shielding them from exploitative activities such as child labour, military recruitment or sexual exploitation and abuse. 
UN General Assembly, Res. 58/150, 22 December 2003, §§ 7–9, adopted without a vote.
UN General Assembly
In a resolution adopted in 2003 on the rights of the child, the UN General Assembly:
44. Recognizes the inclusion in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, as a war crime, of crimes involving sexual violence and crimes of conscripting or enlisting children under the age of 15 years or using them to participate actively in hostilities in both international and non-international armed conflicts;
45. Urges all States and all other parties to armed conflicts to end the recruitment and use of children in situations of armed conflict contrary to international law and to ensure their demobilization, effective disarmament and rehabilitation, physical and psychological recovery and reintegration into society. 
UN General Assembly, Res. 58/157, 22 December 2003, §§ 44–45, voting record: 179-1-0-11.
UN General Assembly
In a resolution adopted in 2003 on the situation of human rights in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the UN General Assembly:
2. Condemns:
(g) The continuing recruitment and use of child soldiers by armed forces and groups, in particular in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which are contrary to international law;
4. Urges all parties to the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo:
(e) To put an immediate end to the recruitment and use of child soldiers, which are in contravention of international law and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child. 
UN General Assembly, Res. 58/196, 22 December 2003, §§ 2(g) and 4(e), voting record: 81-2-91-17.
UN General Assembly
In a resolution adopted in 2003 on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, the UN General Assembly urged the Government of Myanmar to “put an immediate end to the recruitment and use of child soldiers, inter alia, by some armed ethnic groups, and ensure their disarmament, demobilization and reintegration”. 
UN General Assembly, Res. 58/247, 23 December 2003, § 6(c), adopted without a vote.
UN General Assembly
In a resolution adopted in 2004 on emergency international assistance for peace, normalcy and reconstruction of war-stricken Afghanistan, the UN General Assembly:
Welcomes the progress of the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process for ex-combatants, including child soldiers, by the Government of Afghanistan and the efforts of the international community to assist in this process, and urges all Afghan parties to continue their efforts in this regard; recognizing the efforts of the Government of Afghanistan, reiterates the importance of ending the use of children contrary to international law, while welcoming the recent accession by Afghanistan to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Optional Protocol thereto on the involvement of children in armed conflict; and stresses the importance of the demobilization and reintegration of child soldiers and care for other war-affected children, and notes in this regard the value of preparing an action plan to address this issue. 
UN General Assembly, Res. 59/112 B, 8 December 2004, § 4, adopted without a vote.
UN General Assembly
In a resolution adopted in 2004 on the situation of human rights in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the UN General Assembly urged all parties to the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo:
To put an immediate end to the recruitment and use of child soldiers, which is contrary to international law and to the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, with the understanding that, under the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Optional Protocol thereto on the involvement of children in armed conflict, and in accordance with Security Council resolution 1539 (2004) of 22 April 2004 on children and armed conflict, persons under the age of 18 are entitled to special protection, and to provide information without delay on measures taken to discontinue such practices. 
UN General Assembly, Res. 59/207, 20 December 2004, § 5(e), voting record: 76-2-100-13.
UN General Assembly
In a resolution adopted in 2004 on the rights of the child, the UN General Assembly:
45. Recognizes the inclusion in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, as a war crime, of … crimes of conscripting or enlisting children under the age of 15 years or using them to participate actively in hostilities in both international and non-international armed conflicts;
46. Strongly condemns any recruitment and use of children in armed conflict contrary to international law, and urges all States and other parties to armed conflict that are engaged in such practices to end them;
47. Recognizes the efforts of States, the United Nations system and civil society to end the recruitment and use of children in armed conflict;
48. Calls upon States:
(b) To take all feasible measures to ensure the demobilization and effective disarmament of children used in armed conflicts and to implement effective measures for their rehabilitation, physical and psychological recovery and reintegration into society, taking into account the rights and the specific needs and capacities of girls;
(c) To take all feasible measures, as a matter of priority, to prevent the recruitment and use of children by armed groups, as distinct from the armed forces of a State, including the adoption of legal measures necessary to prohibit and criminalize such practices. 
UN General Assembly, Res. 59/261, 23 December 2004, §§ 54–47 and 48(b) and (c), voting record: 166-2-1-22.
UN General Assembly
In a resolution adopted in 2004 on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, the UN General Assembly called upon the Government of Myanmar to end the “use of child soldiers and to extend full cooperation to relevant international organizations in order to ensure the demobilization of child soldiers, their return home and their rehabilitation”. 
UN General Assembly, Res. 59/263, 23 December 2004, § 3(i), adopted without a vote.
UN General Assembly
In a resolution adopted in 2005 on the 2005 World Summit Outcome, the UN General Assembly called upon States “to take effective measures, as appropriate, to prevent the recruitment and use of children in armed conflict, contrary to international law, by armed forces and groups, and to prohibit and criminalize such practices”. 
UN General Assembly, Res. 60/1, 16 September 2005, § 117, adopted without a vote.
UN General Assembly
In a resolution adopted in 2005 on emergency international assistance for peace, normalcy and reconstruction of war-stricken Afghanistan, the UN General Assembly:
4. Welcomes the completion of the disarmament and demobilization of child soldiers in the Afghan Military Forces, stresses the importance of the reintegration of child soldiers and of care for other war-affected children, commends the Government of Afghanistan for its efforts in this regard, and encourages continued efforts in cooperation with the United Nations;
5. Expresses its concern about the recruitment and use of child soldiers by illegal armed groups in Afghanistan, reiterates the importance of ending the use of children contrary to international law, and welcomes the accession by Afghanistan to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the two optional protocols thereto. 
UN General Assembly, Res. 60/32B, 30 November 2005, §§ 4–5, adopted without a vote.
UN General Assembly
In a resolution adopted in 2005 on the situation of human rights in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the UN General Assembly urged all parties to the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo:
To put an immediate end to the recruitment and use of child soldiers, which is contrary to international law and to the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, with the understanding that, under the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Optional Protocol thereto on the involvement of children in armed conflict, and in accordance with Security Council resolutions 1539 (2004) of 22 April 2004 and 1612 (2005) of 26 July 2005 on children and armed conflict, persons under the age of 18 are entitled to special protection. 
UN General Assembly, Res. 60/170, 16 December 2005, § 5(c), voting record: 102-3-67-19.
UN General Assembly
In a resolution adopted in 2005 on the rights of the child, the UN General Assembly:
31. Strongly condemns the use of children in armed conflict … as well as other violations and abuses committed against children affected by armed conflict, and urges all States and other parties to armed conflict that are engaged in such practices to end them;
33. Calls upon States:
(b) To take all feasible measures to ensure the demobilization and effective disarmament of children used in armed conflicts and to implement effective measures for their rehabilitation, physical and psychological recovery and reintegration into society, in particular through educational measures, taking into account the rights and the specific needs and capacities of girls;
(d) To take all necessary measures, in accordance with international humanitarian law and human rights law, as a matter of priority, to prevent the recruitment and use of children by armed groups, as distinct from the armed forces of a State, including the adoption of policies that do not tolerate the recruitment and use of children in armed conflict, and legal measures necessary to prohibit and criminalize such practices. 
UN General Assembly, Res. 60/231, 23 December 2005, §§ 31 and 33(b) and (d), voting record: 130-1-0-60.
UN General Assembly
In a resolution adopted in 2005 on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, the UN General Assembly:
2. Expresses grave concern at:
(a) The …continuing recruitment and use of child soldiers …
3. Strongly calls upon the Government of Myanmar:
(e) To put an immediate end to the recruitment and use of child soldiers and to extend full cooperation to relevant international organizations in order to ensure the demobilization of child soldiers, their return home and their rehabilitation in accordance with Security Council resolutions 1539 (2004) of 22 April 2004 and 1612 (2005), and stresses the need for the Government of Myanmar to maintain close dialogue with the United Nations Children’s Fund and to cooperate with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict in accordance with Council resolutions 1539 (2004) and 1612 (2005). 
UN General Assembly, Res. 60/233, 23 December 2005, §§ 2(a) and 3(e), adopted without a vote.
UN General Assembly
In a resolution adopted in 2006 on the situation in Afghanistan, the UN General Assembly:
12. Also welcomes the completion of the disarmament and demobilization of child soldiers in the Afghan Military Forces, stresses the importance of the reintegration of child soldiers and of care for other children affected by war, commends the Government of Afghanistan for its efforts in this regard, and encourages it to continue efforts in cooperation with the United Nations;
13. Expresses its concern about the recruitment and use of child soldiers by illegal armed groups in Afghanistan, reiterates the importance of ending the use of children contrary to international law, and welcomes the accession by Afghanistan to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the two optional protocols thereto. 
UN General Assembly, Res. 61/18, 28 November 2006, §§ 12–13, adopted without a vote.
UN General Assembly
In a resolution adopted in 2006 on the rights of the child, the UN General Assembly:
16. Also condemns the abduction of children, in particular extortive abduction and abduction of children in situations of armed conflict, including for the recruitment and use of children in armed conflicts, and urges States to take all appropriate measures to secure their unconditional release, rehabilitation, reintegration and reunification with their families;
35. Strongly condemns any recruitment or use of children in armed conflict contrary to international law, as well as other violations and abuses committed against children affected by armed conflict, and urges all States and other parties to armed conflict that are engaged in such practices to end them;
36. Calls upon States:
(b) To take all feasible measures to ensure the demobilization and effective disarmament of children used in armed conflicts and to implement effective measures for their rehabilitation, physical and psychological recovery and reintegration into society, in particular through educational measures, taking into account the rights and the specific needs and capacities of girls;
(f) To take all necessary measures, in accordance with international humanitarian law and human rights law, as a matter of priority, to prevent the recruitment and use of children by armed groups, as distinct from the armed forces of a State, including the adoption of policies that do not tolerate the recruitment and use of children in armed conflict, and legal measures necessary to prohibit and criminalize such practices. 
UN General Assembly, Res. 61/146, 19 December 2006, §§ 16, 35, 36(b) and (f), voting record: 185-1-0-6.
UN General Assembly
In a resolution adopted in 2006 on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, the UN General Assembly expressed grave concern at the “continuing recruitment and use of child soldiers” and strongly called upon the Government of Myanmar to “put an immediate end to the recruitment and use of child soldiers”. 
UN General Assembly, Res. 61/232, 22 December 2006, §§ 2(a) and 3(c), voting record: 82-25-45-40.
UN General Assembly
In a resolution adopted in 2007 on the situation in Afghanistan, the UN General Assembly:
12. Welcomes the completion of the disarmament and demobilization of child soldiers in the Afghan Military Forces, stresses the importance of the reintegration of child soldiers and of care for other children affected by war, commends the Government of Afghanistan for its efforts in this regard, and encourages it to continue efforts in cooperation with the United Nations …
13. Expresses its concern about the ongoing recruitment and use of child soldiers by illegal armed and terrorist groups in Afghanistan, reiterates the importance of implementing Security Council resolution 1612 (2005) on children and armed conflict and of ending the use of children contrary to international law, and welcomes the accession by Afghanistan to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the two optional protocols thereto. 
UN General Assembly, Res. 62/6, 11 November 2007, §§ 12–13, adopted without a vote.
UN General Assembly
Through a resolution adopted in 2007, the UN General Assembly adopted the “Supplement to the World Programme of Action for Youth to the Year 2000 and Beyond”. 
UN General Assembly, Res. 62/126, 18 December 2007, § 2, adopted without a vote.
According to the Supplement:
47. Governments should consider, as a matter of priority, the ratification and effective implementation of the Convention concerning the Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour, 1999 (Convention No. 182) of the International Labour Organization.
48. Governments should take all feasible measures to ensure that members of their armed forces who have not attained the age of 18 years do not take direct part in hostilities and that those who have not attained the age of 18 years are not compulsorily recruited into their armed forces.
49. Governments should take all necessary measures, in accordance with international humanitarian law and human rights law, as a matter of priority, to prevent the recruitment and use of children by armed groups, as distinct from the armed forces of a State, including the adoption of policies that do not tolerate the recruitment and use of children in armed conflict, and the legal measures necessary to prohibit and criminalize such practices.
51. Governments should provide opportunities for all youth who have been engaged in active combat, whether voluntarily or by force, to demobilize and contribute to society’s development if they seek to do so. In this regard, Governments should establish programmes to provide opportunities for youth ex-combatants to retool and retrain so as to facilitate their employment in economic activity and their reintegration into society, including family reunification.
52. Governments should take all appropriate measures to promote physical and psychological recovery and social reintegration of children and young victims of armed conflicts, in particular by restoring access of those children and youth to health care and education, including through Education for All programmes, as well as to put in place effective youth employment strategies to help provide a decent living for young people and to facilitate their reintegration into society. 
UN General Assembly, Res. 62/126, 18 December 2007, annex: §§ 47–49 and 51–52, adopted without a vote.
UN General Assembly
In a resolution adopted in 2007 on the rights of the child, the UN General Assembly:
39. Strongly condemns any recruitment or use of children in armed conflict contrary to international law, as well as other violations and abuses committed against children affected by armed conflict, and urges all States and other parties to armed conflict that are engaged in such practices to end them;
41. Calls upon States:
(b) To take all feasible measures to ensure the demobilization and effective disarmament of children used in armed conflicts and to implement effective measures for their rehabilitation, physical and psychological recovery and reintegration into society, in particular through educational measures, taking into account the rights and the specific needs and capacities of girls;
(f) To take all feasible measures, in accordance with international humanitarian law and human rights law, as a matter of priority, to prevent the recruitment and use of children by armed groups, as distinct from the armed forces of a State, including the adoption of policies that do not tolerate the recruitment and use of children in armed conflict, and legal measures necessary to prohibit and criminalize such practices;
53. Also condemns all kinds of abduction of children, in particular extortive abduction and abduction of children in situations of armed conflict, including for the recruitment and use of children in armed conflicts, and urges States to take all appropriate measures to secure their unconditional release, rehabilitation, reintegration and reunification with their families. 
UN General Assembly, Res. 62/141, 18 December 2007, §§ 39, 41(a) and (f) and 53, voting record: 183-1-0-8.
UN General Assembly
In a resolution adopted in 2007 on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, the UN General Assembly strongly called upon the Government of Myanmar:
To put an immediate end to the continuing recruitment and use of child soldiers, in violation of international law, by all parties, to intensify measures to ensure the protection of children from armed conflict and to pursue its collaboration with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict. 
UN General Assembly, Res. 62/222, 22 December 2007, § 4(g), voting record: 83-22-47-40.
UN Economic and Social Council
In a resolution adopted in 2007 on the Supplement to the World Programme of Action for Youth to the Year 2000 and Beyond, ECOSOC recommended to the UN General Assembly that it adopt a draft resolution that stated:
48. Governments should take all feasible measures to ensure that members of their armed forces who have not attained the age of 18 years do not take direct part in hostilities and that those who have not attained the age of 18 years are not compulsorily recruited into their armed forces.
49. Governments should take all necessary measures, in accordance with international humanitarian law and human rights law, as a matter of priority, to prevent the recruitment and use of children by armed groups, as distinct from the armed forces of a State, including the adoption of policies that do not tolerate the recruitment and use of children in armed conflict, and the legal measures necessary to prohibit and criminalize such practices. 
ECOSOC, Res. 2007/27, 27 July 2007, §§ 48–49, voting record: 49-1-0.
UN Commission on Human Rights
In a resolution adopted in 1998 on the elimination of violence against women, the UN Commission on Human Rights called upon States “to protect children, especially the girl child, in situations of armed conflict against participation, … through adherence to the applicable principles of international human rights and humanitarian law”. 
UN Commission on Human Rights, Res. 1998/52, 17 April 1998, § 9(g), adopted without a vote.
UN Commission on Human Rights
In a resolution adopted in 1998 on the abduction of children from northern Uganda, the UN Commission on Human Rights concurred with the comments of the Committee on the Rights of the Child on “the involvement of children in the conflict in northern Uganda, in particular the recommendation on measures to stop … the use of children as child soldiers”. 
UN Commission on Human Rights, Res. 1998/75, 22 April 1998, preamble and § 2, voting record: 24-1-27.
UN Commission on Human Rights
In a resolution adopted in 1998 on the rights of the child, the UN Commission on Human Rights called upon all States and other parties to armed conflict “to end the use of children as soldiers”. 
UN Commission on Human Rights, Res. 1998/76, 22 April 1998, § 12(b), adopted without a vote.
UN Commission on Human Rights
In a resolution adopted in 2003 on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, the UN Commission on Human Rights expressed grave concern at “systematic use of child soldiers” and strongly urged the Government of Myanmar:
To put an immediate end to the recruitment and use of child soldiers and to extend full cooperation to relevant international organizations in order to ensure the demobilization of child soldiers, their return home and their rehabilitation in accordance with Security Council resolution 1460 (2003) of 30 January 2003. 
UN Commission on Human Rights, Res. 2003/12, 16 April 2003, §§ 3(c) and 5(e), adopted without a vote.
UN Commission on Human Rights
In a resolution adopted in 2003 on the situation of human rights in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the UN Commission on Human Rights:
3. Condemns:
(g) The continuing recruitment and use of child soldiers by armed forces and groups in the territory of the Democratic Republic of the Congo;
4. Urges all parties to the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo:
(d) To put an immediate end to the recruitment and use of child soldiers, which are in contravention of international law, mindful that under the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict persons under 18 are entitled to special protection, and to provide information without delay on measures taken to discontinue such practices. 
UN Commission on Human Rights, Res. 2003/15, 17 April 2003, §§ 3(g) and 4(d), adopted without a vote.
UN Commission on Human Rights
In a resolution adopted in 2003 on the situation of human rights in Burundi, the UN Commission on Human Rights:
Urges all parties to the conflict to end the use of children as soldiers, welcomes the commitment made in that regard by the Transitional Government and the signature of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict and encourages the Transitional Government to ratify it. 
UN Commission on Human Rights, Res. 2003/16, 17 April 2003, § 19, adopted without a vote.
UN Commission on Human Rights
In a resolution adopted in 2003 on assistance to Somalia in the field of human rights, the UN Commission on Human Rights condemned:
All violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law, including the forced or compulsory recruitment of children for use in armed conflict, [and] the use of these children in armed conflict by the militias. 
UN Commission on Human Rights, Res. 2003/78, 25 April 2003, § 6(c), adopted without a vote.
UN Commission on Human Rights
In a resolution adopted in 2003 on the rights of the child, the UN Commission on Human Rights called upon States:
(a) To end the recruitment of children and their use in armed conflicts contrary to international law, including obligations assumed under the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict and the Convention concerning the prohibition and immediate action for the elimination of the worst forms of child labour (No. 182) of the International Labour Organization;
(d) To take all feasible measures to prevent recruitment and use of children by armed groups, as distinct from the armed forces of a State, including the adoption of legal measures necessary to prohibit and criminalize such practices;
(e) To take all feasible measures to ensure the demobilization and effective disarmament of children used in armed conflicts and to implement effective measures for their rehabilitation, physical and psychological recovery and reintegration into society, taking into account the rights, and the specific needs and capacities of girls. 
UN Commission on Human Rights, Res. 2003/86, 25 April 2003, § 41(a), (d) and (e), adopted without a vote.
UN Commission on Human Rights
In a resolution adopted in 2004 on the abduction of children in Africa, the UN Commission on Human Rights:
3. Demands the immediate demobilization and disarmament of all child soldiers who have been recruited or used in armed conflicts in contravention of international law;
4. Calls for the immediate and unconditional release and safe return of all abducted children to their families and communities. 
UN Commission on Human Rights, Res. 2004/47, 20 April 2004, §§ 3–4, adopted without a vote.
UN Commission on Human Rights
In a resolution adopted in 2004 on the rights of the child, the UN Commission on Human Rights:
42. Calls upon States:
(a) To end the recruitment of children and their use in armed conflicts contrary to international law, including obligations assumed under the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict and the Convention concerning the Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour, 1999 (No. 182) of the International Labour Organization;
(c) To take all feasible measures to prevent recruitment and use of children by armed groups, as distinct from the armed forces of a State, including the adoption of legal measures necessary to prohibit and criminalize such practices;
(d) To take all feasible measures to ensure the demobilization and effective disarmament of children used in armed conflicts and to implement effective measures for their rehabilitation, physical and psychological recovery and reintegration into society, taking into account the rights and the specific needs and capacities of girls.
44. Calls upon:
(a) All States and other parties to armed conflict to respect fully international humanitarian law and, in this regard, calls upon States parties to respect fully the provisions of the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 and the Additional Protocols thereto of 1977;
(b) Armed groups that are distinct from the armed forces of a State not, under any circumstances, to recruit or use in hostilities persons under the age of 18 years. 
UN Commission on Human Rights, Res. 2004/48, 20 April 2004, §§ 42(a) and (c)–(d) and 44(a)–(b), voting record: 52-1-0.
UN Commission on Human Rights
In a resolution adopted in 2004 on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, the UN Commission on Human Rights expressed grave concern at “systematic use of child soldiers” and strongly urged the Government of Myanmar:
To put an immediate end to the recruitment and use of child soldiers and to extend full cooperation to relevant international organizations in order to ensure the demobilization of child soldiers, their return home and their rehabilitation in accordance with Security Council resolution 1460 (2003) of 30 January 2003. 
UN Commission on Human Rights, Res. 2004/61, 21 April 2004, §§ 3(d) and 5(h), adopted without a vote.
UN Commission on Human Rights
In a resolution adopted in 2004 on assistance to Somalia in the field of human rights, the UN Commission on Human Rights condemned “[t]he forced or compulsory recruitment of children for use in armed conflict [and] the use of these children in armed conflict by the militias”. 
UN Commission on Human Rights, Res. 2004/80, 21 April 2004, § 9(d), adopted without a vote.
UN Commission on Human Rights
In a resolution adopted in 2004 on technical cooperation and advisory services in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the UN Commission on Human Rights urged all parties:
To put an end to the recruitment and use of child soldiers, which are contrary to international law and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, bearing in mind that, under the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Optional Protocol thereto on the involvement of children in armed conflict, persons under the age of 18 are entitled to special protection, and to provide information on measures taken to discontinue such practices.  
UN Commission on Human Rights, Res. 2004/84, 21 April 2004, § 4(f), adopted without a vote.
UN Commission on Human Rights
In a resolution adopted in 2005 on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, the UN Commission on Human Rights expressed grave concern at “systematic use of child soldiers” and called upon the Government of Myanmar:
To put an immediate end to the recruitment and use of child soldiers and to extend full cooperation to relevant international organizations in order to ensure the demobilization of child soldiers, their return home and their rehabilitation in accordance with Security Council resolutions 1460 (2003) of 30 January 2003 and 1539 (2004) of 14 April 2004 by the Army, but stresses the need for full implementation of the plan and the need to maintain close dialogue with the United Nations Children’s Fund, as well as to cooperate with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict. 
UN Commission on Human Rights, Res. 2005/10, 14 April 2005, §§ 3(f) and 5(c), adopted without a vote.
UN Commission on Human Rights
In a resolution adopted in 2005 on abduction of children in Africa, the UN Commission on Human Rights:
1. Condemns the practice of abduction of children for various purposes, inter alia, for involvement in armed forces or armed groups, for participation in hostilities, for sexual exploitation and forced labour;
2. Also condemns the abduction of children from camps of refugees and internally displaced persons by armed forces and armed groups, and their subjection of children to participation in fighting, torture, killing and rape as victims and as perpetrators;
3. Demands the immediate demobilization and disarmament, reintegration and, where applicable, repatriation of all child soldiers, particularly girls, who have been recruited or used in armed conflicts in contravention of international law;
4. Calls for the immediate and unconditional release and safe return of all abducted children to their families, extended families and communities;
5. Calls upon African States:
(a) To pay particular attention to the protection of refugee and internally displaced children, especially unaccompanied and separated children, who are exposed to the risk of being abducted or becoming involved in armed conflicts;
(c) To take adequate measures to prevent the abduction and recruitment of children by armed forces and armed groups and their participation in hostilities, through, inter alia, the adoption of legal measures to prohibit and criminalize such practices and practical measures such as prompt and comprehensive birth registration of all children (including refugee and internally displaced children), documentation of children, preservation of family unity and its facilitation in case of separation, access to education, health care, vocational training and employment. 
UN Commission on Human Rights, Res. 2005/43, 19 April 2005, §§ 1–4 and 5(a) and (c), adopted without a vote.
UN Commission on Human Rights
In a resolution adopted in 2005 on the rights of the child, the UN Commission on Human Rights:
2. Urges once again the States that have not yet done so to consider signing and ratifying or acceding to the Convention on the Rights of the Child as a matter of priority and, concerned at the great number of reservations to the Convention, urges States parties to withdraw reservations incompatible with the object and purpose of the Convention and to consider reviewing other reservations with a view to withdrawing them;
3. Urges States that have not yet done so to consider signing and ratifying or acceding to the Optional Protocols to the Convention on the involvement of children in armed conflict and on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography;
4. Calls upon States parties to implement the Convention and its Optional Protocols fully and in accordance with the best interests of the child by, inter alia, putting in place effective national legislation and policies …
34. Recognizes the inclusion in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, as a war crime, of crimes involving sexual violence and crimes of conscripting or enlisting children under the age of 15 years or using them to participate actively in hostilities in both international and non-international armed conflicts;
36. Strongly condemns any recruitment and use of children in armed conflicts contrary to international law, and urges all parties to armed conflict to end such practice, and all other violations against children, including killing or maiming, rape or other sexual violence, abduction, denial of humanitarian access, attacks against schools and hospitals and the forced displacement of children and their families;
38. Calls upon States:
(b) To take all feasible measures to prevent recruitment and use of children by armed groups, as distinct from the armed forces of a State, including the adoption of legal measures necessary to prohibit and criminalize such practice, and the adoption of measures to prevent rerecruitment, in particular education;
(c) To take all feasible measures, in particular educational measures, to ensure the demobilization and effective disarmament of children used in armed conflicts and to implement effective measures for their rehabilitation, physical and psychological recovery and reintegration into society, taking into account the rights and the specific needs of the girl child;
39. Calls upon:
(a) All States and other parties to armed conflict to respect fully international humanitarian law and, in this regard, calls upon States parties to respect fully the provisions of the Geneva Conventions, of 12 August 1949, and the Additional Protocols thereto of 8 June 1977;
(b) Armed groups that are distinct from the armed forces of a State not, under any circumstances, to recruit or use in hostilities persons under the age of 18 years. 
UN Commission on Human Rights, Res. 2005/44, 19 April 2005, §§ 2–4, 34, 36, 38(b)–(c) and 39(a)–(b), voting record: 52-1-0.
UN Commission on Human Rights
In a resolution adopted in 2005 on advisory services and technical assistance in Burundi, the UN Commission on Human Rights encouraged “the parties that have not yet done so to stop using child soldiers”. 
UN Commission on Human Rights, Res. 2005/75, 20 April 2005, § 14, adopted without a vote.
UN Commission on Human Rights
In a resolution adopted in 2005 on technical cooperation and advisory services in Nepal, the UN Commission on Human Rights:
Firmly condemns the recruitment and use of a large number of children in Maoist forces and urges the members of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) to stop the recruitment of children as well as to demobilize immediately those currently participating in these groups, as set out in Security Council resolution 1539 (2004). 
UN Commission on Human Rights, Res. 2005/78, 20 April 2005, § 5, adopted without a vote.
UN Commission on Human Rights
In a resolution adopted in 2005 on assistance to Somalia in the field of human rights, the UN Commission on Human Rights:
7. Firmly condemns:
(c) The forced or compulsory recruitment of children for use in armed conflict, the use of these children in armed conflict by the militias …
9. Also calls upon:
(a) All parties to … prevent any act likely to increase tension and insecurity, particularly the forced or compulsory recruitment of children for use in armed conflict and to pay serious attention to their protection, as set out in human rights and international humanitarian standards, in particular those pertaining to internal armed conflict. 
UN Commission on Human Rights, Res. 2005/83, 21 April 2005, §§ 7(c) and 9(a), adopted without a vote.
UN Commission on Human Rights
In a resolution adopted in 2005 on technical cooperation and advisory services in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the UN Commission on Human Rights urged all parties “to put a stop to the recruitment and use of child soldiers in violation of international law and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child”. 
UN Commission on Human Rights, Res. 2005/85, 21 April 2005, § 5(g), adopted without a vote.
UN Secretary-General
In 1998, in a report on UNOMSIL in Sierra Leone, the UN Secretary-General welcomed the commitment of the government and the Civil Defence Force not to send children under the age of 18 into combat. 
UN Secretary-General, First progress report on the UNOMSIL, UN Doc. S/1998/750, 12 August 1998, §§ 43 and 59.
UN Secretary-General
In 1999, in a report on the protection of civilians in armed conflict, the UN Secretary-General recommended that the UN Security Council
urge Member States to support the proposal to raise the minimum age for … participation in hostilities to 18, and accelerate the drafting of an optional protocol on the situation of children in armed conflict to the Convention on the Rights of the Child for consideration by the General Assembly. 
UN Secretary-General, Report on the protection of civilians in armed conflicts, UN Doc. S/1999/957, 8 September 1999, § 42 and Recommendation 8.
UN Secretary-General
In 2000, in his report on the establishment of a Special Court for Sierra Leone, the UN Secretary-General stated: “Violations of common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions and of Article 4 of Additional Protocol II thereto committed in an armed conflict not of an international character have long been considered customary international law.” 
UN Secretary-General, Report on the establishment of a Special Court for Sierra Leone, UN Doc. S/2000/915, 4 October 2000, § 14.
UN Observer Mission in El Salvador
In 1992, in a report on El Salvador, the Director of the Human Rights Division of ONUSAL noted:
60. … ONUSAL observers were able to verify that [a] huge number of children under 15 were in the FMLN [Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional] ranks. When this situation was taken up with the Political and Diplomatic Commission of FMLN, it pledged to respect the international norms in force [Article 4(3)(c) of the 1977 Additional Protocol II], which did not entirely prove to be the case.
101. … FMLN was recommended to observe the rules of international humanitarian law concerning the prohibition of … participation [of minors under the age of 15] in hostilities.  
ONUSAL, Director of the Human Rights Division, Report, UN Doc. A/46/955-S/24375, 12 August 1992, Annex, §§ 60 and 101.
OAU Council of Ministers
In a resolution adopted in 1996 on the plight of African children in situation of armed conflicts, the OAU Council of Ministers:
5. Exhorts all African countries, in particular the warring parties in those countries embroiled in civil wars, to keep children out of war situations …
7. Reaffirms that the use of children in armed conflicts constitutes a violation of their rights and should be considered as war crimes. 
OAU, Council of Ministers, Res. 1659 (LXIV), 1–5 July 1996, §§ 5 and 7.
In another resolution adopted at the same session, the Council of Ministers expressed extreme “concern about the increasing use of children in armed conflicts”. 
OAU, Council of Ministers, Res. 1662 (LXIV), 1–5 July 1996, § 8.
International Conference of the Red Cross (1986)
The 25th International Conference of the Red Cross in 1986 adopted a resolution on protection of children in armed conflict in which it recalled that, in accordance with Article 77 of the 1977 Additional Protocol I, “the Parties to the conflict shall take all feasible measures in order that children who have not attained the age of fifteen do not take a direct part in hostilities”. It also expressed “its deep concern that children under the age of 15 years are trained for military combat” and recommended that “in all circumstances children should be educated to respect humanitarian principles”. 
25th International Conference of the Red Cross, Geneva, 23–31 October 1986, Res. IX, § 4.
International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent (1995)
The 26th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent in 1995 recommended that “parties to conflict refrain from arming children under the age of 18 years and take every feasible step to ensure that children under the age of 18 years do not take part in hostilities”. It took note of “the efforts of the Movement to promote a principle of … non-participation in armed conflicts of children under the age of 18 years”. 
26th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, Geneva, 3–7 December 1995, Res. II, § C(d) and (f).
African Conference on the Use of Children as Soldiers
In the Maputo Declaration on the Use of Children as Soldiers, the participants at the African Conference on the Use of Children as Soldiers in 1999 solemnly declared that “the use of any child under 18 years of age by any armed force or armed group is wholly unacceptable, even where that child claims or is claimed to be a volunteer”. They called upon all African States to bring to justice “those who continue to recruit or use children as soldiers”. They also condemned “the use of children as soldiers by armed opposition groups” and called upon these groups “to demobilise or release into safety children already being used as soldiers”. 
African Conference on the Use of Children as Soldiers, Maputo, 19–22 April 1999, Maputo Declaration on the Use of Children as Soldiers, §§ 1–3.
Inter-Parliamentary Conference (1999)
In a resolution adopted on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Geneva Conventions in 1999 on the contribution of parliaments to ensuring respect for and promoting International humanitarian law, the 102nd Inter-Parliamentary Conference requested all States “to take all feasible measures to ensure that children who have not attained the age of 18 years do not take part in hostilities or military action … and to ensure the early adoption of the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict”. 
102nd Inter-Parliamentary Conference, Berlin, 10–15 October 1999, Resolution on the contribution of parliaments to ensuring respect for and promoting international humanitarian law on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Geneva Conventions, § 4.
International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent (1999)
The Plan of Action for the years 2000–2003 adopted in 1999 at the 27th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent requested that:
1. All the parties to an armed conflict take effective measures to respect and ensure respect for international humanitarian law and to ensure, in particular, in accordance with their relevant obligations under international humanitarian law, that:
(f) … all measures, including penal measures, are taken to stop the participation of children under the age of 15 years in armed hostilities … which constitute[s] a violation of international humanitarian law …
7. The International Federation, National Societies and the ICRC will continue their efforts in pursuance of decisions taken within the International Movement and notably the Plan of Action for Children Affected by Armed Conflict (CABAC), to “promote the principle of … non-participation of children below the age of 18 years in armed conflicts”. 
27th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, Geneva, 31 October–6 November 1999, Res. I, Annex 2, Plan of Action for the years 2000–2003, Actions proposed for final goal 1.1, §§ 1(f) and 7.
International Criminal Court
In the Lubanga case before the ICC in 2006, Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, a former president of the Union des Patriotes Congolais (UPC) and commander-in-chief of the Forces patriotiques pour la libération du Congo (FPLC), was charged, inter alia, with the war crimes of enlisting, conscripting and using children under the age of 15 years to participate actively in hostilities, punishable under Article 8(2)(b)(xxvi) and (e)(vii) of the 1998 ICC Statute. 
ICC, Lubanga case, Warrant of Arrest, 10 February 2006.
In its decision on the confirmation of charges in 2007, the Pre-Trial Chamber stated:
259. Regarding the involvement of children in armed conflicts, Article 77(2) of Protocol Additional I to the Geneva Conventions states that:
The Parties to the conflict shall take all feasible measures in order that children who have not attained the age of fifteen years do not take a direct part in hostilities […].
260. According to the commentary on Article 77(2) of Protocol Additional I to the Geneva Conventions, the intention of the drafters of the article was clearly to keep children under fifteen outside armed conflict, and consequently they should not be required to perform services such as the gathering and transmission of military information, transportation of arms and ammunition or the provision of supplies.
261. “Active participation” in hostilities means not only direct participation in hostilities, combat in other words, but also covers active participation in combat-related activities such as scouting, spying, sabotage and the use of children as decoys, couriers or at military check-points.
262. In this respect, the Chamber considers that this article does not apply if the activity in question is clearly unrelated to hostilities. Accordingly, this article does not apply to food deliveries to an airbase or the use of domestic staff in married officers’ quarters.
263. Nevertheless, the Chamber finds that articles 8(2)(b)(xxvi) and 8(d)(e)(vii) [of the 1998 ICC Statute] apply if children are used to guard military objectives, such as the military quarters of the various units of the parties to the conflict, or to safeguard the physical safety of military commanders (in particular, where children are used as bodyguards). These activities are indeed related to hostilities in so far as i) the military commanders are in a position to take all the necessary decisions regarding the conduct of hostilities, ii) they have a direct impact on the level of logistical resources and on the organisation of operations required by the other party to the conflict whose aim is to attack such military objectives.
3. Discrete elements in the two articles: “into the national armed forces” or “into armed forces or groups”
268. Under article 8(c)(b)(xxvi) of the Statute, conscripting or enlisting children under the age of fifteen years into national armed forces and using them to participate actively in hostilities constitutes a serious violation of the laws and customs applicable in international armed conflict, within the established framework of international law.
269. This article of the Statute derives from Article 77 of Protocol Additional I to the Geneva Conventions, which deals with the protection of children during armed conflicts not of an international character.
270. Pursuant to Article 77(2) of Protocol Additional I to the Geneva Conventions, “[t]he Parties to the conflict shall take all feasible measures in order that children who have not attained the age of fifteen years do not take part in hostilities and, in particular, they shall refrain from recruiting them into their armed forces.”
271. The Chamber considers that the expression “national armed forces” must first be defined. In this regard, Article 43 of Protocol Additional I to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 defines the armed forces of a Party to a conflict as consisting of all organised armed forces, groups or units which are under a command responsible to that Party for the conduct of its subordinates, even if that Party is represented by a government or an authority not recognized by an adverse Party. Such armed forces must be subject to an internal disciplinary system which, inter alia, enforces compliance with the rules of international law applicable in armed conflict.
272. The Chamber notes that, in the context of a conflict of an international character, Protocol I does not require that the armed forces be governmental forces. In this regard, the Chamber refers to the commentary on the Protocol, which states that “it is perfectly clear that the Protocol has extended its field of application to entities which are not States. […] If they conform to the requirements of the present article, liberation movements fighting against colonial domination […] and resistance movements representing a pre-existing subject of international law may be “Parties to the conflict” within the meaning of the Conventions and the Protocol. However, the authority which represents them must have certain characteristics of a government, at least in relation to its armed forces.”
273. The commentary on Article 43 of Protocol I states that the notion of “party to the conflict” is fairly wide, involving not only resistance movements representing a pre-existing subject of international law and governments in exile, but also those fighting for conflicts of “self-determination” or “national liberation”.
274. Furthermore, the Chamber notes that Article 1 of the 1907 Hague Regulations concerning the Laws and Customs of War, which has become part of customary law, also requires militia and volunteer corps that are not part of an army to fulfil the following conditions: be commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates; have a fixed distinctive emblem recognizable at a distance; carry arms openly; and conduct their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war.
275. With regard to the term “national”, which qualifies armed forces in the context of article 8(d)(b)(xxvi) of the Statute, the Chamber recalls that the context of international armed conflict is not restricted solely to the use of force between two states, but that it extends to certain situations in which parties to the conflict may be organised armed forces or groups. The issue raised here is whether the adjective “national” qualifying “armed forces” limits the scope of the application of this provision to “governmental” armed forces.
276. In this regard, Article 31 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, entitled “General rule of interpretation”, provides that:
1. A treaty shall be interpreted in good faith in accordance with the ordinary meaning to be given to the terms of the treaty in their context and in the light of its object and purpose.
[…]
4. A special meaning shall be given to a term if it is established that the parties so intended.
277. Firstly, the ordinary meaning of the adjective “national” does not necessarily lead to an interpretation of the term as meaning governmental armed forces. In this regard, the Chamber notes that the Appeals Chamber of the ICTY defined the term “national” within the meaning of Article 4(1) of the Forth Geneva Convention for the purpose of determining who can be considered a “protected person” under the Convention.
278. On this point, the Appeals Chamber of the ICTY held in Tadić that “in modern inter-ethnic armed conflicts such as that in the former Yugoslavia, new States are often created during the conflict and ethnicity rather than nationality may become the grounds for allegiance. Or, put another way, ethnicity may become determinative of national allegiance. […] In such conflicts, not only the text and the drafting history of the Convention but also, and more importantly, the Convention’s object and purpose suggest that allegiance to a Party to the conflict and, correspondingly, control by this Party over persons in a given territory, may be regarded as the crucial test.”
279. In The Prosecutor v. Delalić et al., the Appeals Chamber of the ICTY held that “Bosnia Serb victims should be regarded as protected persons for the purposes of Geneva Convention IV because they were arrested and detained mainly on the basis of their Serb identity and they were clearly regarded by the Bosnian authorities as belonging to the opposing party in an armed conflict and as posing a threat to the Bosnian State.”
280. Accordingly, the Chamber observes that the Appeals Chamber of the ICTY has construed the term “national” in Article 4(1) of the Fourth Geneva Convention as referring not solely to nationality as such, but also to the fact of belonging to the opposing party in an armed conflict.
281. Secondly, interpreting the term “national” to mean “governmental” can only undermine the object and purpose of the Statute of the Court, which is none other than to ensure that “the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole” must no longer go unpunished.
282. Thus, construing the term “national” to mean “governmental” might present the judge with a genuine paradox. Indeed, he or she might be led to consider that an alleged perpetrator can be held responsible if he or she belongs to a party to a conflict which is linked to a State (the armed forces of a State, such as the UPDF), but would escape prosecution if he or she belonged to a party to the same conflict described as an armed group (such as the FPLC).
283. Moreover, Article 32 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, entitled “Supplementary means of interpretation” states that:
Recourse may be had to supplementary means of interpretation, including the preparatory work of the treaty and the circumstances of its conclusion, in order to confirm the meaning resulting from the application of article 31, or to determine the meaning when the interpretation according to article 31:
a. Leaves the meaning ambiguous or obscure; or
b. Leads to a result which is manifestly absurd or unreasonable.
284. In fact, on the basis of basic humanitarian considerations and common sense, it would be absurd that Thomas Lubanga Dyilo could incur criminal responsibility for the crime of enlisting or conscripting children under the age of fifteen years only in the context of an internal armed conflict solely because the FPLC, as an armed force, could not be described as a “national armed force” within the meaning of article 8(2)(b)(xxvi) of the Statute. This would be tantamount to admitting that the perpetrator of such a crime could escape prosecution simply because his or her acts were committed in the context of an international armed conflict. The drafters of the Statute wanted to include under article 8 of the Statute a larger array of criminal conduct committed in the context of an international armed conflict.
285. Thus, the Chamber considers that, under article 8(2)(b)(xxvi) of the Statute, the term “the national armed forces” is not limited to the armed forces of a State. 
ICC, Lubanga case, Decision on the Confirmation of Charges, 29 January 2007, §§ 259–263 and 268–285.
In its judgment in 2012, the ICC Trial Chamber I stated:
542. … The Chamber notes the reference in Article 8(2)(b) [of the 1998 ICC Statute] to “the established framework of international law”, which applies equally to the crimes set out in Article 8(2)(b). The crime of “conscripting or enlisting children under the age of fifteen years into the national armed forces or using them to participate actively in hostilities” as set out in Article 8(2)(b)(xxvi) of the Statute falls within “the established framework of international law” as one of the “other serious violations of the laws and customs applicable in international armed conflict”. The prohibition is based on Article 77(2) of Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949. This Protocol applies to armed conflicts between States, as indicated by Common Article 2 of the Geneva Conventions. It follows that for the purposes of Article 8(2)(b)(xxvi) of the Statute, “international armed conflict” includes a military occupation.
X. CONSCRIPTION AND ENLISTMENT OF CHILDREN UNDER THE AGE OF 15 OR USING THEM TO PARTICIPATE ACTIVELY IN HOSTILITIES(ARTICLE 8(2)(e)(vii) OF THE STATUTE
A. The Law
568. Given the Chamber’s conclusion that the UPC [Union des Patriotes Congolais] was engaged in a non-international armed conflict throughout the period of the charges, it is unnecessary to interpret or discuss Article 8(2)(b)(xxvi). Subject to one significant difference in wording (conscription or enlistment of children into “national armed forces” (Article 8(2)(b)(xxvi) of the Statute) as opposed to “armed forces or groups” (Article 8(2)(e)(vii) of the Statute), the elements of these two crimes are similar. Therefore, the extent to which the crimes of conscription, enlistment and use of children below the age of 15 under Article 8(2)(b)(xxvi) have previously been the subject of interpretation and consideration will be relevant to the Chamber’s analysis of Article 8(2)(e)(vii).
569. Article 8(2)(e)(vii) of the Statute, the first treaty to include these offences as war crimes, provides:
2. [...]
(e) Other serious violations of the laws and customs applicable in armed conflicts not of an international character, within the established framework of international law, namely, any of the following acts:
[…]
(vii) Conscripting or enlisting children under the age of fifteen years into armed forces or groups or using them to participate actively in hostilities;
[…]
The corresponding Elements of Crimes read as follows:
The perpetrator conscripted or enlisted one or more persons into an armed force or group or used one or more persons to participate actively in hostilities.
Such person or persons were under the age of 15 years.
The perpetrator knew or should have known that such person or persons were under the age of 15 years.
The conduct took place in the context of and was associated with an armed conflict not of an international character.
The perpetrator was aware of the factual circumstances that established the existence of an armed conflict.
570. The Chamber’s conclusions on Elements 3 and 5 are addressed separately in the context of Section XI(A)(5). The Chamber has also discussed the definition of an “[organised] armed group” elsewhere in this judgment.
571. The Elements of Crimes require that the relevant “conduct took place in the context of and was associated with an armed conflict not of an international character”. Given the plain and ordinary meaning of this provision, it is unnecessary to discuss its interpretation in detail: it is sufficient to show that there was a connection between the conscription, enlistment or use of children under 15 and an armed conflict that was not international in character. The remaining Elements and the relevant applicable law are analysed below.
2. The Chamber’s Analysis and Conclusions
600. Addressing the three relevant acts, namely conscripting, enlisting children under the age of 15 or using them to participate actively in hostilities, in each instance the conduct is not defined in the Statute, the Rules or the Elements of Crimes. Accordingly, the scope of the activities covered by Article 8(2)(e)(vii) of the Statute must be determined in accordance with Articles 21 and 22(2) of the Statute …
603. The jurisprudence of the SCSL has been considered by the Trial Chamber. Although the decisions of other international courts and tribunals are not part of the directly applicable law under Article 21 of the Statute, the wording of the provision criminalising the conscription, enlistment and use of children under the age of 15 within the Statute of the SCSL is identical to Article 8(e)(vii) of the Rome Statute, and they were self-evidently directed at the same objective. The SCSL’s case law therefore potentially assists in the interpretation of the relevant provisions of the Rome Statute.
604. Article 4(3)(c) of Additional Protocol II to the 1949 Geneva Conventions includes an absolute prohibition against the recruitment and use of children under the age of 15 in hostilities (in the context of an armed conflict not of an international character):
children who have not attained the age of fifteen years shall neither be recruited in the armed forces or groups nor allowed to take part in hostilities;
In addition, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, a widely ratified human rights treaty, requires the State Parties to “take all feasible measures to ensure that persons who have not attained the age of fifteen years do not take a direct part in hostilities”, and to “refrain from recruiting any person who has not attained the age of fifteen years into their armed forces” in all types of armed conflicts (“armed conflicts which are relevant to the child”).
605. These provisions recognise the fact that “children are particularly vulnerable [and] require privileged treatment in comparison with the rest of the civilian population”. The principal objective underlying these prohibitions historically is to protect children under the age of 15 from the risks that are associated with armed conflict, and first and foremost they are directed at securing their physical and psychological well-being. This includes not only protection from violence and fatal or non-fatal injuries during fighting, but also the potentially serious trauma that can accompany recruitment (including separating children from their families, interrupting or disrupting their schooling and exposing them to an environment of violence and fear).
606. It is to be noted that the potentially broad concept of “children associated with armed conflict” was referred to throughout the trial. This expression does not form part of the wording of any of the charges the accused faces, but instead – as submitted by the defence – it is clearly designed to afford children with the greatest possible protection. Although it is to be stressed that the Chamber has applied the provisions of the Statute as opposed to this more general concept, Ms Coomaraswamy gave relevant background evidence that children in this context frequently undertake a wide range of tasks that do not necessarily come within the traditional definition of warfare. As a result, they are exposed to various risks that include rape, sexual enslavement and other forms of sexual violence, cruel and inhumane treatment, as well as further kinds of hardship that are incompatible with their fundamental rights.
b) Using children under the age of 15 to participate actively in hostilities
619. As with “conscripting” and “enlisting” children under the age of 15 into armed forces or groups, the prohibition against “using them to participate actively in hostilities” is generally intended to protect children from the risks that are associated with armed conflict, for the reasons described above.
620. The prohibition against using children under the age of 15 to participate actively in hostilities is not dependent on the individuals concerned having been earlier conscripted or enlisted into the relevant armed force or group. As set out in paragraph 609 above, if Article 8(2)(e)(vii) of the Statute is taken on its own, the position is potentially ambiguous, given it reads “[c]onscripting or enlisting children under the age of fifteen years into armed forces or groups or using them to participate actively in hostilities” (emphasis added). However, the Elements of Crimes clarifies the issue by requiring “1. The perpetrator conscripted or enlisted one or more persons into an armed force or group or used one or more persons to participate actively in hostilities. 2. Such person or persons were under the age of 15 years” (emphasis added). Therefore, consistently with Article 22(2) of the Statute, a child can be “used” for the purposes of the Statute without evidence being provided as regards his or her earlier “conscription” or “enlistment” into the relevant armed force or group.
621. The Elements of the Crimes require that “the conduct took place in the context of and was associated with an armed conflict”. The travaux préparatoires of the Statute suggest that although direct participation is not necessary, a link with combat is nonetheless required. The Preparatory Committee’s draft Statute had postulated a broader interpretation in one of the footnotes:
The words “using” and “participate” have been adopted in order to cover 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. It would not cover activities clearly unrelated to the hostilities such as food deliveries to an airbase or the use of domestic staff in an officer’s married accommodation. However, use of children in a direct support function such as acting as bearers to take supplies to the front line, or activities at the front line itself, would be included within the terminology. (emphasis added)
622. The Pre-Trial Chamber, by reference to the approach of the Preparatory Committee, decided that a child does not actively participate in hostilities if the activity in question was “clearly unrelated to hostilities.” The Pre-Trial Chamber distinguished between two categories of participation, first:
“Active participation” in hostilities means not only direct participation in hostilities, combat in other words, but also covers active participation in combat-related activities such as scouting, spying, sabotage and the use of children as decoys, couriers or at military check-points.
In the Pre-Trial Chamber’s formulation, guarding military objectives or acting as a bodyguard were also activities related to hostilities, inter alia, when “they have a direct impact on the level of logistic resources and on the organisation of operations required by the other party to the conflict”.
623. Second, the Pre-Trial Chamber considered that children who were engaged in activities “clearly unrelated to hostilities” and carry out tasks such as “food deliveries to an airbase or the use of domestic staff in married officer’s quarters” do not actively participate in hostilities.
624. As indicated above, the SCSL has examined the scope of active participation in hostilities in a number of decisions when applying Article 4(c) of its Statute, which is identical to Article 8(e)(vii) of the Rome Statute. In the AFRC case, ostensibly relying on the approach of the Preparatory Committee, the SCSL determined that the use of children to participate actively in hostilities is not restricted to children directly involved in combat, noting:
An armed force requires logistical support to maintain its operations. Any labour or support that gives effect to, or helps maintain, operations in a conflict constitutes active participation. Hence carrying loads for the fighting faction, finding and/or acquiring food, ammunition or equipment, acting as decoys, carrying messages, making trails or finding routes, manning checkpoints or acting as human shields are some examples of active participation as much as actual fighting and combat.
625. The SCSL therefore held that the concept of “using” children to participate actively in hostilities encompasses the use of children in functions other than as front line troops (participation in combat), including support roles within military operations.
626. The Special Representative (CHM-0003) suggested that the Trial Chamber should focus “in each case […] [on] whether the child’s participation served an essential support function to the armed force” and she referred to the SCSL jurisprudence in the AFRC Trial Judgment set out above. The Trial Chamber in that case held that:
‘Using’ children to ‘participate actively in the hostilities’ encompasses putting their lives directly at risk in combat.
627. The use of the expression “to participate actively in hostilities”, as opposed to the expression “direct participation” (as found in Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions) was clearly intended to import a wide interpretation to the activities and roles that are covered by the offence of using children under the age of 15 actively to participate in hostilities. It is noted in this regard that Article 4(3)(c) of Additional Protocol II does not include the word “direct”.
628. The extent of the potential danger faced by a child soldier will often be unrelated to the precise nature of the role he or she is given. Those who participate actively in hostilities include a wide range of individuals, from those on the front line (who participate directly) through to the boys or girls who are involved in a myriad of roles that support the combatants. All of these activities, which cover either direct or indirect participation, have an underlying common feature: the child concerned is, at the very least, a potential target. The decisive factor, therefore, in deciding if an “indirect” role is to be treated as active participation in hostilities is whether the support provided by the child to the combatants exposed him or her to real danger as a potential target. In the judgment of the Chamber these combined factors – the child’s support and this level of consequential risk – mean that although absent from the immediate scene of the hostilities, the individual was nonetheless actively involved in them. Given the different types of roles that may be performed by children used by armed groups, the Chamber’s determination of whether a particular activity constitutes “active participation” can only be made on a case-by-case basis.
629. Notwithstanding the conclusions set out above, and given the submissions made at various stages of the proceedings, the Chamber needs finally to address how the issue of sexual violence is to be treated in the context of Article 8(2)(e)(vii) of the Statute. It is to be noted that although the prosecution referred to sexual violence in its opening and closing submissions, it has not requested any relevant amendment to the charges. During the trial the legal representatives of victims requested the Chamber to include this conduct in its consideration of the charges, and their joint request led to Decisions on the issue by the Trial Chamber and the Appeals Chamber (viz. whether it was permissible the change the legal characterisation of the facts to include crimes associated with sexual violence). Not only did the prosecution fail to apply to include rape and sexual enslavement at the relevant procedural stages, in essence it opposed this step. It submitted that it would cause unfairness to the accused if he was tried and convicted on this basis.
630. In accordance with the jurisprudence of the Appeals Chamber, the Trial Chamber’s Article 74 Decision shall not exceed the facts and circumstances (i.e. the factual allegations) described in the charges and any amendments to them. The Trial Chamber has earlier pointed out that “[f]actual allegations potentially supporting sexual slavery are simply not referred to at any stage in the Decision on the Confirmation of Charges”. Regardless of whether sexual violence may properly be included within the scope of “using [children under the age of 15] to participate actively in hostilities” as a matter of law, because facts relating to sexual violence were not included in the Decision on the Confirmation of Charges, it would be impermissible for the Chamber to base its Decision pursuant to Article 74(2) on the evidence introduced during the trial that is relevant to this issue.
631. In due course, the Chamber will consider whether these matters ought to be taken into account for the purposes of sentencing and reparations.
B. The Facts
5. Use of child soldiers
820. As set out above, those who actively participated in hostilities included a wide range of individuals, from those on the front line, who participated directly, through to those who were involved in a myriad of roles supporting the combatants. The decisive factor in deciding whether an indirect role is to be treated as active participation in hostilities is whether the support provided by the child to the combatants exposed him or her to real danger by becoming a potential target. The ages of the children are dealt with in the Chamber’s consideration of the detailed evidence relating to each of them, as set out below.
6. Overall Conclusions as regards conscription, enlistment and use of children under the age of 15 within the UPC/FPLC
909. It is alleged that the accused conscripted and enlisted children under the age of 15 years into the armed forces of the UPC/FPLC and that he used them to participate actively in hostilities between 1 September 2002 and 13 August 2003.
910. The Chamber has already set out its conclusion that the UPC/FPLC was an armed group.
b) Use of children under 15 to participate actively in hostilities
915. The testimony of P-0002, P-0016, P-0017, P-0024, P-0030, P-0038, P-0046, P-0055, D-0019 and D-0037 and the documentary evidence has demonstrated that children under the age of 15 were within the ranks of the UPC/FPLC between 1 September 2002 and 13 August 2003. The evidence of P-0038, P-0016, P-0012, P-0046, P-0014, D-0019 and D-0037 proves that children were deployed as soldiers in Bunia, Tchomia, Kasenyi, Bogoro and elsewhere, and they took part in fighting, including at Kobu, Songolo and Mongbwalu. The evidence of witnesses P-0016 and P-0024 establishes that the UPC used children under the age of 15 as military guards. The evidence of P-0017 reveals that a special “Kadogo Unit” was formed, which was comprised principally of children under the age of 15. The evidence of P-0014, P- 0017, D-0019, P-0038 and P-041, as well as the video footage EVD-OTP- 00572, demonstrates that commanders in the UPC/FPLC frequently used children under the age of 15 as bodyguards. The accounts of P-0030, P-0055, P-0016 and P-0041, along with the video evidence, clearly prove that children under the age of 15 acted as bodyguards or served within the presidential guard of Mr Lubanga.
916. In all the circumstances, the evidence has established beyond reasonable doubt that children under the age of 15 were conscripted, enlisted and used by the UPC/FPLC to participate actively in hostilities between 1 September 2002 and 13 August 2003.
XII. DISPOSITION
1358. For the foregoing reasons and on the basis of the evidence submitted and discussed before the Chamber at trial, and the entire proceedings, pursuant to Article 74(2) of the Statute, the Chamber finds Mr Thomas Lubanga Dyilo:
GUILTY of the crimes of conscripting and enlisting children under the age of fifteen years into the FPLC and using them to participate actively in hostilities within the meaning of Articles 8(2)(e)(vii) and 25(3)(a) of the Statute from early September 2002 to 13 August 2003. 
ICC, Lubanga case, Judgment, 14 March 2012, §§ 542, 568–571, 600, 603–606, 619–631, 820, 909–910, 915–916 and 1358.
[footnotes in original omitted]
International Criminal Court
In the Katanga case before the ICC in 2007, the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber I issued an arrest warrant for Germain Katanga, the alleged former commander of an armed group known as the Force de résistance patriotique en Ituri (FRPI) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He was charged, inter alia, with the war crime of using children under the age of 15 years to participate actively in hostilities, punishable under Article 8(2)(b)(xxvi) or (e)(vii) of the 1998 ICC Statute. 
ICC, Katanga case, Warrant of arrest, 2 July 2007, p. 6.
International Criminal Court
In the Ngudjolo Chui case before the ICC in 2007, the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber I issued an arrest warrant for Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui, a Congolese national and alleged former leader of an armed group known as the Front des nationalistes et intégrationnistes (FNI). At the time his arrest warrant was issued, he was a colonel in the National Army of the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC). He was charged, inter alia, with the war crime of using children under the age of 15 years to participate actively in hostilities, punishable under Article 8(2)(b)(xxvi) or (e)(vii) of the 1998 ICC Statute. 
ICC, Ngudjolo Chui case, Warrant of arrest, 2 July 2007, p. 6.
International Criminal Court
In the Katanga and Chui case before the ICC, the accused, respectively the alleged commander of the Front for Patriotic Resistance of Ituri (FRPI) and the alleged former leader of the Nationalist and. Integrationist Front (FNI) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, were charged with jointly committing through other persons various crimes against humanity and war crimes under Articles 7 and 8 of the 1998 ICC Statute. In its decision on the confirmation of charges in 2008, the Pre-Trial Chamber considered the offence of using children to participate in hostilities, stating:
247. The war crime provided for in article 8(2)(b)(xxvi) of the [1998 ICC] Statute is defined as “using” children under the age of fifteen “to participate actively in hostilities.” According to the [2000 ICC] Elements of Crimes, in addition to establishing a nexus between the crime and an international armed conflict and the perpetrator’s awareness of the factual circumstances establishing the existence of such a conflict, this war crime requires the following three elements: (i) “the perpetrator […] used one or more persons to participate actively in hostilities”; (ii) “such person or persons were under the age of fifteen”; and (iii) “the perpetrator knew or should have known that such person or persons were under the age of fifteen years.”
248. The Chamber observes that this war crime can be committed by a perpetrator against individuals in his own party to the conflict. Thus, the allegiance of the child who is used in hostilities is not relevant for the purposes of this provision, as long as the child in question is under the age of fifteen.
250. The Chamber considers that the definition of the phrase “active participation in hostilities” set out in the Lubanga Decision is relevant to this Decision. With regard to the specific context of the war crime of using children in hostilities, the phrase applies to cases in which:
[…] children are used to guard military objectives, such as military quarters of the various units of the parties to the conflict, or to safeguard the physical safety of military commanders (in particular, where children are used as bodyguards). These activities are indeed related to hostilities in so far as (i) the military commanders are in a position to take all necessary decisions regarding the conduct of hostilities; (ii) they have a direct impact on the level of logistic resources and on the organisation of operations required by the other party to the conflict whose aim is to attack such military objectives. [ICC, Lubanga case, Decision on the confirmation of charges, § 263]
251. In respect of the subjective elements of this war crime, the perpetrator must satisfy the intent and knowledge requirement of article 30(1) and (2) of the Statute as well as a negligence standard set out in the phrase “should have known” with regard to the requirement that the victim be under the age of fifteen. Therefore this offence encompasses, first and foremost, cases of dolus directus of the first or second degrees.
252. The negligence standard of “should have known” is met when the perpetrator:
(i) did not know that the victim was under the age of fifteen years at the time he used the victim to participate actively in hostilities, and
(ii) lacked such knowledge because he did not act with due diligence in the relevant circumstances (i.e. the perpetrator “should have known” and his lack of knowledge resulted from his failure to comply with his duty to act with due diligence) [ICC, Lubanga case, Decision on the confirmation of charges, §§ 357–359]. 
ICC, Katanga and Chui case, Decision on the confirmation of charges, 30 September 2008, §§ 247–248 and 250–252.
[footnotes in original omitted]
In its judgment in the Ngudjolo Chui case of 18 December 2012, the ICC Trial Chamber II acquitted Mr Ngudjolo Chui of all the charges against him. 
ICC, Ngudjolo Chui case, Judgment, 18 December 2012, Disposition.
Special Court for Sierra Leone
In the Koroma case before the SCSL in 2003, the accused, the leader of the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC), a senior leader of the AFRC/Revolutionary United Front (RUF), a senior member of the Junta regime, and exercising the powers of the President of the Republic of Sierra Leone from May 1997 to February 1998, was charged, inter alia, with:
Conscripting or enlisting children under the age of 15 years into armed forces or groups, or using them to participate actively in hostilities, an OTHER SERIOUS VIOLATION OF INTERNATIONAL HUMANITARIAN LAW, punishable under Article 4.c. of the [2002 Statute of the Special Court for Sierra Leone]. 
SCSL, Koroma case, Indictment, 7 March 2003, § 47, Count 11.
[emphasis in original]
It was alleged that:
… throughout the Republic of Sierra Leone, AFRC/RUF routinely conscripted, enlisted and/or used boys and girls under the age of 15 to participate in active hostilities. Many of these children were first abducted, then trained in AFRC/RUF camps in various locations throughout the country, and thereafter used as fighters. 
SCSL, Koroma case, Indictment, 7 March 2003, § 47.
Special Court for Sierra Leone
In the Bockarie case before the SCSL in 2003, the accused, a senior member of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), Junta and Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC)/RUF forces, was charged, inter alia, with:
Conscripting or enlisting children under the age of 15 years into armed forces or groups, or using them to participate actively in hostilities, an OTHER SERIOUS VIOLATION OF INTERNATIONAL HUMANITARIAN LAW, punishable under Article 4.c. of the [2002 Statute of the Special Court for Sierra Leone]. 
SCSL, Bockarie case, Indictment, 7 March 2003, § 49, Count 11.
[emphasis in original]
It was alleged that:
… throughout the Republic of Sierra Leone, AFRC/RUF routinely conscripted, enlisted and/or used boys and girls under the age of 15 to participate in active hostilities. Many of these children were first abducted, then trained in AFRC/RUF camps in various locations throughout the country, and thereafter used as fighters. 
SCSL, Bockarie case, Indictment, 7 March 2003, § 49.
Due to the accused’s death, the indictment was withdrawn. 
SCSL, Bockarie case, Withdrawal of Indictment, 8 December 2003.
Special Court for Sierra Leone
In the Sankoh case before the SCSL in 2003, the accused, the leader of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), a senior leader in the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC)/RUF, and a senior member of the Junta regime, was charged, inter alia, with:
Conscripting or enlisting children under the age of 15 years into armed forces or groups, or using them to participate actively in hostilities, an OTHER SERIOUS VIOLATION OF INTERNATIONAL HUMANITARIAN LAW, punishable under Article 4.c. of the [2002 Statute of the Special Court for Sierra Leone]. 
SCSL, Sankoh case, Indictment, 7 March 2003, § 50, Count 11.
[emphasis in original]
It was alleged that:
… throughout the Republic of Sierra Leone, AFRC/RUF routinely conscripted, enlisted and/or used boys and girls under the age of 15 to participate in active hostilities. Many of these children were first abducted, then trained in AFRC/RUF camps in various locations throughout the country, and thereafter used as fighters. 
SCSL, Sankoh case, Indictment, 7 March 2003, § 50.
Due to the accused’s death, the indictment was withdrawn. 
SCSL, Sankoh case, Withdrawal of Indictment, 8 December 2003.
Special Court for Sierra Leone
In the Fofana and Kondewa case before the SCSL in 2004, the accused, senior members of the Civil Defence Forces (CDF), were charged, inter alia, with the use of child soldiers as a serious violation of international humanitarian law, punishable under Article 4(c) of the 2002 Statute of the Special Court for Sierra Leone. 
SCSL, Fofana and Kondewa case, Indictment, 4 February 2004, § 29, Count 8.
In its judgment in 2007, the Trial Chamber stated:
193. In defining the phrase “using children to participate actively in hostilities”, the Chamber has considered the Commentary given on the relevant statutory provision in the Rome Statute establishing the ICC on the issue, which states inter alia:
The words “using” and “participate [actively]” have been adopted in order to cover both direct participation in combat and also active participation in military activities linked to combat such as scouting, spying, sabotage and use of children as decoys, couriers or at military checkpoints. It would not cover activities clearly unrelated to the hostilities such as food deliveries to an airbase or the use of children in a direct support function such as acting as bearers to take supplies to the front line, or activities at the front line itself, would be included within the terminology.
194. The Chamber recognises that the phrase “armed forces or groups” has been the subject of a variety of legal interpretations. Noting some treaty variations in the use of this phrase, as is the case with the reference in the Brussels Declaration of 1874 of “militia and volunteer corps” and levees en masse as loyal combatants, and similar usages in the Hague Convention II of 1899, the Hague Convention of 1907, and the Geneva Conventions of 1949, the Chamber deems it appropriate to adopt the definition of “armed groups” given in the Tadic Appeal Judgement to the effect that:
One should distinguish the situation of individuals acting on behalf of a State without specific instructions, from that of individuals making up an organised and hierarchically structured group, such as a military unit or, in case of war or civil strife, armed bands of irregulars or rebels. Plainly, an organised group differs from an individual in that the former normally has a structure, a chain of command and a set of rules as well as the outward symbols of authority. Normally a member of the group does not act on his own but conforms to the standards prevailing in the group and is subject to the authority of the head of the group. [emphasis in original Tadic Appeal Judgement]
In the Chamber’s view, such a group may be either State or Non-State controlled.
195. The Chamber concludes that the specific elements of enlisting children under the age of 15 years into armed forces or groups are:
(i) One or more persons were enlisted, either voluntarily or compulsorily, into an armed force or group by the Accused;
(ii) Such person or persons were under the age of 15 years;
(iii) The Accused knew or had reason to know that such person or persons were under the age of 15 years; and
(iv) The Accused intended to enlist the said persons into the armed force or group.
196. The specific elements of using children under the age of 15 years to participate actively in hostilities are as follows:
(i) One or more persons were used by the Accused to actively participate in hostilities;
(ii) Such person or persons were under the age of 15 years;
(iii) The Accused knew or had reason to know that such person or persons were under the age of 15 years; and
(iv) The Accused intended to use the said persons to actively participate in hostilities.
197. The Appeals Chamber ruled that the offence of recruitment of child soldiers had crystallised under customary international law prior to the events alleged in the Indictment. In so finding, it dismissed the applicant’s argument that the offences listed under Article 4(c) of the [2002 Statute of the Special Court for Sierra Leone] did not constitute crimes during the time of the events. Enlistment is clearly a form of recruitment. However, the “use” of child soldiers, in ordinary language, could not be said to be a form of recruitment. While the Appeals Chamber did not enunciate specially on “using child soldiers to participate actively in hostilities” the Chamber, having considered the dismissal by the Appeals Chamber of the whole Motion relating to Article 4(c) in its totality, and having considered the available authorities, considers that “using child soldiers to participate actively in hostilities” was also proscribed under customary international humanitarian law prior to the event charged in the Indictment. Indeed, this is the only logical conclusion. For it would make no sense to say that recruiting children under 15 years of age for the armed forces was prohibited, but using them to fight was not.
198. The Indictment also charges the Accused with “initiation” of child soldiers, which is not listed as an offence in the Statute. However, it is the opinion of the Chamber that evidence of “initiation” may be of relevance in establishing liability under Article 4(c) of the Statute.
199. It is the Chamber’s view that the rules of international humanitarian law apply equally to all parties in an armed conflict, regardless of the means by which they were recruited. Furthermore, the Chamber is mindful that special protection provided by Article 4(3)(d) of Additional Protocol II remains applicable in the event that children under the age of 15 are conscripted, enlisted, or used to participate in hostilities. 
SCSL, Fofana and Kondewa case, Judgment, 2 August 2007, §§ 193–199.
In its judgment in 2008, the Appeals Chamber, considering the crime of using child soldiers to participate actively in hostilities under Article 4.c of the 2002 Statute of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, stated:
125. The Appeals Chamber is of the view that the crime of … using [children] to participate actively in hostilities may be committed irrespective of the number of children …
139. The Appeals Chamber affirms that the crime of recruitment by way of … using [children] to participate actively in hostilities constitutes a crime under customary international law entailing individual criminal responsibility. Pursuant to Article 4.c. of the [2002] Statute [of the Special Court for Sierra Leone], the crime of … using [children] to participate actively in hostilities constitutes another serious violation of international humanitarian law. The actus reus requires that the accused … used children to participate actively in hostilities.
144. In the context of this case, in which the armed group is not a conventional military organisation, “enlistment” cannot narrowly be defined as a formal process. The Appeals Chamber regards “enlistment” in the broad sense as including any conduct accepting the child as a part of the militia. Such conduct would include making him participate in military operations. 
SCSL, Fofana and Kondewa case, Judgment on Appeal, 28 May 2008, §§ 125, 139 and 144.
[footnotes in original omitted]
Special Court for Sierra Leone
In the Brima case before the SCSL in 2005, the three accused, all former non-commissioned officers in the Sierra Leone Army who became senior members of the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) that seized power from the elected government of the Republic of Sierra Leone in May 1997, were charged, inter alia, with:
Conscripting or enlisting children under the age of 15 years into armed forces or groups, or using them to participate actively in hostilities, an OTHER SERIOUS VIOLATION OF INTERNATIONAL HUMANITARIAN LAW, punishable under Article 4.c. of the [2002 Statute of the Special Court for Sierra Leone]. 
SCSL, Brima case, Further Amended Consolidated Indictment, 18 February 2005, § 65, Count 12.
[emphasis in original]
It was alleged that:
… throughout the Republic of Sierra Leone, AFRC/RUF [Revolutionary United Front] routinely conscripted, enlisted and/or used boys and girls under the age of 15 to participate in active hostilities. Many of these children were first abducted, then trained in AFRC/RUF camps in various locations throughout the country, and thereafter used as fighters. 
SCSL, Brima case, Further Amended Consolidated Indictment, 18 February 2005, § 65.
In its judgment, the Trial Chamber considered the law relating to the use of child soldiers:
727. … The Accused are … charged with conscripting or enlisting children under the age of 15 years into armed forces or groups, or using them to participate actively in hostilities (“conscripting, enlisting or using child soldiers”), an “other serious violation of international humanitarian law”, punishable under Article 4(c) of the [2002 Statute of the Special Court for Sierra Leone].
728. The question of whether this crime is recognised as a crime entailing individual criminal responsibility under customary international was examined by the Appeals Chamber Norman case, Decision on Preliminary Motion Based on Lack of Jurisdiction (Child Recruitment), 31 May 2004 (“Appeal Decision on Child Recruitment”)], which found that, prior to November 1996, the crime had crystallised as customary law, regardless of whether committed in internal or international armed conflict, and held that:
[c]hild recruitment was criminalised before it was explicitly set out as a criminal prohibition in treaty law and certainly by November 1996, the starting point of the time frame relevant to the indictments. As set out above, the principle of legality and the principle of specificity are both upheld.
(a) Elements of the Crime
729. Guided once more by the Rome Statute, the Trial Chamber adopts the following elements of the crime of conscripting or enlisting children under the age of 15 years into armed forces or groups, or using them to participate actively in hostilities:
1. The perpetrator conscripted or enlisted one or more persons into an armed force or group or used one or more persons to participate actively in hostilities;
2. Such person or persons were under the age of 15 years;
3. The perpetrator knew or should have known that such person or persons were under the age of 15 years;
4. The conduct took place in the context of and was associated with an armed conflict;
5. The perpetrator was aware of factual circumstances that established the existence of an armed conflict. [see Rome Statute, Elements of Crimes, Article 8(2)(b)(xxvi)]
733. The actus reus of the crime can be satisfied by “conscripting” or “enlisting” children under the age of 15, or by “using” them to participate actively in the hostilities.
734. “Conscription” implies compulsion, in some instances through the force of law. While the traditional meaning of the term refers to government policies requiring citizens to serve in their armed forces, the Trial Chamber observes that Article 4(c) allows for the possibility that children be conscripted into “[armed] groups”. While previously wars were primarily between well established States, contemporaneous armed conflicts typically involve armed factions which may not be associated with, or acting on behalf, a State. To give the protection against crimes relating to child soldiers its intended effect, it is justified not to restrict “conscription” to the prerogative of States and their legitimate Governments, as international humanitarian law is not grounded on formalistic postulations. Rather, the Trial Chamber adopts an interpretation of “conscription” which encompasses acts of coercion, such as abductions and forced recruitment, by an armed group against children, committed for the purpose of using them to participate actively in hostilities.
735. “Enlistment” entails accepting and enrolling individuals when they volunteer to join an armed force or group. Enlistment is a voluntary act, and the child’s consent is therefore not a valid defence.
736. “Using” children to “participate actively in the hostilities” encompasses putting their lives directly at risk in combat. As a footnote attached to the Preparatory Conference on the establishment of the International Criminal Court states
The words “using” and “participate” have been adopted in order to cover both participation in combat and also active participation in military activities linked to combat such as scouting, spying, sabotage and use of children as decoys, couriers or at military checkpoints.
737. It is the Trial Chamber’s view that the use of children to participate actively in hostilities is not limited to participation in combat. An armed force requires logistical support to maintain its operations. Any labour or support that gives effect to, or helps maintain, operations in a conflict constitutes active participation. Hence carrying loads for the fighting faction, finding and/or acquiring food, ammunition or equipment, acting as decoys, carrying messages, making trails or finding routes, manning checkpoints or acting as human shields are some examples of active participation as much as actual fighting and combat.
738. The elements of “armed forces or groups” entail that the armed forces or groups must be under responsible command, which entails a degree of organization which should be such as to enable the armed groups to plan and carry out concerted military operations and to impose discipline within the armed group. 
SCSL, Brima case, Judgment, 20 June 2007, §§ 727–729 and 733–738.
Subsequently, each of the three accused was found guilty, inter alia, of the charge of committing acts of “conscripting or enlisting children under the age of 15 years into armed forces or groups, or using them to participate actively in hostilities”. 
SCSL, Brima case, Judgment, 20 June 2007, XIII. Disposition, §§ 2113–2123.
Brima and Kanu were each sentenced to 50 years’ imprisonment; Kamara was sentenced to 45 years’ imprisonment. 
SCSL, Brima case, Sentencing Judgment, 19 July 2007, VI. Disposition.
Special Court for Sierra Leone
In the Sesay case before the SCSL in 2006, the accused Sesay and Kallon, senior commanders in the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), Junta and Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC)/RUF forces, and the accused Gbao, senior commander in the RUF and AFRC/RUF forces, were charged, inter alia, with:
Conscripting or enlisting children under the age of 15 years into armed forces or groups, or using them to participate actively in hostilities, an OTHER SERIOUS VIOLATION OF INTERNATIONAL HUMANITARIAN LAW, punishable under Article 4.c. of the [2002 Statute of the Special Court for Sierra Leone]. 
SCSL, Sesay case, Corrected Amended Consolidated Indictment, 2 August 2006, § 68, Count 12.
[emphasis in original]
It was alleged that:
… throughout the Republic of Sierra Leone, AFRC/RUF routinely conscripted, enlisted and/or used boys and girls under the age [o]f 15 to participate in active hostilities. Many of these children were first abducted, then trained in AFRC/RUF camps in various locations throughout the country, and thereafter used as fighters. 
SCSL, Sesay case, Corrected Amended Consolidated Indictment, 2 August 2006, § 68.
In its judgment in the case in 2009, the Trial Chamber set out the elements of the crime of using children to participate actively in hostilities, stating:
188. In defining the phrase “using children to participate actively in hostilities”, the Chamber has expressed its agreement with the following Commentary on the relevant statutory provision in the ICC Statute which states inter alia:
The words “using” and “participate [actively]” have been adopted in order to cover both direct participation in combat and also active participation in military activities linked to combat such as scouting, spying, sabotage and use of children as decoys, couriers or at military checkpoints. It would not cover activities clearly unrelated to the hostilities such as food deliveries to an airbase or the use of domestic staff in an officer’s accommodation. However, use of children in a direct support function such as acting as bearers to take supplies to the front line, or activities at the front line itself, would be included within the terminology.
193. This Chamber holds that the specific elements of using children under the age of 15 years to participate actively in hostilities are as follows:
(i) One or more persons were used by the Accused to actively participate in hostilities;
(ii) Such person or persons were under the age of 15 years;
(iii) The Accused knew or had reason to know that such person or persons were under the age of 15 years; and
(iv) The Accused intended to use the said persons to actively participate in hostilities.
194. It is the Chamber’s view that the rules of international humanitarian law apply equally to all parties in an armed conflict, regardless of the means by which they were recruited. Furthermore, the Chamber is mindful that the special protection provided by Article 4(3)(d) of [the 1977] Additional Protocol II remains applicable in the event that children under the age of 15 are conscripted, enlisted, or used to participate actively in the hostilities. 
SCSL, Sesay case, Judgment, 2 March 2009, §§ 188 and 193–194.
[footnotes in original omitted]
In its judgment in 2009, the Appeals Chamber stated:
The Appeals Chamber has previously held that the prohibition on … using child soldiers existed in customary international law at the times relevant to the offences in this case, and that violation of this prohibition incurs individual criminal responsibility in customary international law. In reaching those holdings, the Appeals Chamber observed that a significant body of conventional international law imposes an obligation on parties to “take all feasible measures” to ensure that children are not … used in hostilities. The accused are under a duty to act with due diligence to ensure that children under the age of 15 are not … used in combat. Failure to exercise such due diligence to ascertain the age of recruits does not relieve an accused of his liability for their … use. 
SCSL, Sesay case, Judgment on Appeal, 26 October 2009, § 923.
[footnotes in original omitted]
Special Court for Sierra Leone
In the Taylor case before the SCSL in 2007, the accused, former president of the Republic of Liberia, was charged, inter alia, with:
Conscripting or enlisting children under the age of 15 years into armed forces or groups, or using them to participate actively in hostilities, an OTHER SERIOUS VIOLATION OF INTERNATIONAL HUMANITARIAN LAW, punishable under Article 4.c. of the [2002 Statute of the Special Court for Sierra Leone]. 
SCSL, Taylor case, Second Amended Indictment, 29 May 2007, § 22, Count 9.
[emphasis in original]
It was alleged that:
Between about 30 November 1996 and about 18 January 2002, throughout the Republic of Sierra Leone, members of RUF [Revolutionary United Front], AFRC [Armed Forces Revolutionary Council], AFRC/RUF Junta or alliance, and/or Liberian fighters, assisted and encouraged by, acting in concert with, under the direction and/or control of, and/or subordinate to the ACCUSED, routinely conscripted, enlisted and/or used boys and girls under the age of 15 to participate in active hostilities. Many of these children were first abducted, then trained in AFRC and/or RUF camps in various locations throughout the country, and thereafter used as fighters. 
SCSL, Taylor case, Second Amended Indictment, 29 May 2007, § 22.
[emphasis in original]
Human Rights Committee
In its concluding observations on the consolidated second and third periodic reports of the Philippines in 2003, the Human Rights Committee stated:
The Committee is concerned that the measures of protection of children are inadequate and the situation of large numbers of children, particularly the most vulnerable, is deplorable. While recognizing that certain legislation has been adopted in this respect, many problems remain in practice, such as:
d) Children as young as 13 allegedly being used by armed groups without adequate measures of protection by the State (art. 24 [of the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights]);
The State party should:
c) Take all appropriate measures to ensure protection of children who have been involved in armed conflict and provide them with adequate assistance and counseling for their rehabilitation and reintegration into society (art. 24) … 
Human Rights Committee, Concluding observations on the consolidated second and third periodic reports of the Philippines, UN Doc. CCPR/CO/79/PHL, 1 December 2003, § 17.
[emphasis in original]
Committee on the Rights of the Child
In its concluding observations on the report of Uganda in 1997, the Committee on the Rights of the Child expressed its concern about the “involvement of children as child soldiers” in northern Uganda and recommended that:
Awareness of the duty to fully respect the rules of international humanitarian law, in the spirit of article 38 of the Convention [on the Rights of the Child], inter alia with regard to children, should be made known to the parties to the armed conflict in the northern part of the State party’s territory, and that violations of the rules of international humanitarian law entail responsibility being attributed to the perpetrators. Furthermore, the Committee recommends that the State party take measures to stop … the use of children as child soldiers in the area of the armed conflict. 
Committee on the Rights of the Child, Concluding observations on the report of Uganda, UN Doc. CRC/C/15/Add.80, 21 October 1997, §§ 19 and 34.
Council of Delegates (1991)
At its Budapest Session in 1991, the Council of Delegates adopted a resolution on child soldiers in which it invited “States and other parties to armed conflicts to strengthen the protection of children in armed conflicts through unilateral declarations or bilateral or regional instruments setting at eighteen the minimum age for participation in hostilities”. 
International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, Council of Delegates, Budapest Session, 28–30 November 1991, Res. 14, § 2.
Council of Delegates (1993)
At its Birmingham Session in 1993, the Council of Delegates adopted a resolution on child soldiers in which it expressed its deep concern about “the great number of children who bear arms in armed conflicts” and requested the ICRC and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, in cooperation with the Henry Dunant Institute, “to draw up and implement a Plan of Action for the Movement aimed at promoting the principle of … non-participation of children below the age of eighteen in armed conflicts”. 
International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, Council of Delegates, Birmingham Session, 29–30 October 1993, Res. 4, preamble and § 4.
ICRC
In 1994, in a Memorandum on Respect for International Humanitarian Law in Angola, the ICRC stated: “Those under the age of 15 shall not be … authorized to take a direct or indirect part in hostilities.” 
ICRC, Memorandum on Respect for International Humanitarian Law in Angola, 8 June 1994, § I, IRRC, No. 320, 1997, p. 503.
ICRC
In 1994, in a statement before the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly, the ICRC recalled the relevant treaty provisions prohibiting the participation of children in hostilities. Underscoring the constant violations of these strict provisions, the ICRC pleaded for fuller compliance with the existing rules, and expressed the full support of the ICRC for the adoption of an optional protocol to the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child that would forbid any involvement in hostilities of children under 18. 
ICRC, Statement before the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly, 11 November 1994, p. 2.
Council of Delegates (1995)
At its Geneva Session in 1995, the Council of Delegates adopted a resolution on children in armed conflicts which endorsed
the Plan of Action for the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, prepared by the International Federation and the ICRC, in cooperation with the Henry Dunant Institute, which aims to promote the principle of non-participation … of children below the age of 18 years in armed conflicts. 
International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, Council of Delegates, Geneva Session, 1–2 December 1995, Res. 5, § 2.
ICRC
In 1996, in a statement before the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly, the ICRC stated:
The shocking reality of armed conflicts is that, in many instances, children below the age of 15 take part in hostilities, in breach of existing international standards contained in IHL instruments and in the Convention on the Rights of the Child. 
ICRC, Statement before the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly, 12 November 1996, p. 1.
ICRC
In 1997, in a working paper on war crimes submitted to the Preparatory Committee for the Establishment of an International Criminal Court, the ICRC listed allowing children under the age of 15 years to take part in hostilities as a serious violation of IHL in international and non-international armed conflicts that should be subject to the jurisdiction of the ICC.  
ICRC, Working paper on war crimes submitted to the Preparatory Committee for the Establishment of an International Criminal Court, 14 February 1997, §§ 2(v) and 3(xii).
Council of Delegates (1997)
At its Seville Session in 1997, the Council of Delegates adopted a resolution on peace, IHL and human rights in which it appealed to all National Societies
to promote the Movement’s position on the 18-year age limit for … participation in hostilities with a view to encouraging their respective governments to adopt national legislation … in line with this position.
It asked National Societies that had already adopted the 18-year age limit for participation
to urge their governments to make their positions known to other governments, and to encourage their respective governments to participate in and support the process of drafting an optional protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on involvement of children in armed conflicts. 
International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, Council of Delegates, Seville Session, 25–27 November 1997, Res. 8, §§ 5 and 6.
ICRC
In 1998, in a statement before the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly, the ICRC welcomed the adoption of the ICC Statute, which included in its list of war crimes the use of children under 15 to participate actively in hostilities. The ICRC noted:
The notion of participation must be understood to include both taking a direct part in the fighting and active participation in related activities, such as reconnaissance, espionage and sabotage. The same applies to the use of children as decoys, as messengers or at military checkpoints. 
ICRC, Statement before the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly, 21 October 1998, p. 2.
Council of Delegates (1999)
At its Geneva Session in 1999, the Council of Delegates adopted a resolution on children affected by armed conflict in which it encouraged all National Societies
to support, particularly through contacts with their government, the adoption of international instruments implementing the principle of non-participation … of children below the age of 18 in armed conflicts with a view to such instruments being applicable to all situations of armed conflict and to all armed groups. 
International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, Council of Delegates, Geneva Session, 29–30 October 1999, Res. 8, § 4.
Turku Declaration of Minimum Humanitarian Standards
The Turku Declaration of Minimum Humanitarian Standards, adopted by an expert meeting convened by the Institute for Human Rights of Åbo Akademi University in Turku/Åbo, Finland in 1990, states: “Children who have not yet attained the age of fifteen years shall not be allowed to take part in acts of violence. All efforts shall be made not to allow persons below the age of 18 to take part in acts of violence.” 
Turku Declaration of Minimum Humanitarian Standards, adopted by an expert meeting convened by the Institute for Human Rights, Åbo Akademi University, Turku/Åbo, 30 November–2 December 1990, Article 10, IRRC, No. 282, p. 334.
Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A)
The Report on SPLM/A Practice states: “The SPLM/A still … deploys in combat children under the age of 15 years, which is against the Convention on the Rights of the Child.” 
Report on SPLM/A Practice, 1998, Chapter 5.3.