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