Lao People’s Democratic Republic
Practice Relating to Rule 136. Recruitment of Child Soldiers
The Law on National Defence Obligations (1995) of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic states:
National Defence Obligations in Time of Peace
Article 3. Criteria for Conscripts
All Lao citizens who are men of 18 to 28 years of age and in good health must join the army as conscripts. Women of 18 to 23 years of age may also be conscripted into the army in the event of necessity.
Article 4. Listing
Each year, village heads must list the persons who fully turn 17 within their respective villages, and then send the list to the relevant district military command in order to prepare [such persons] to be conscripts.
Article 5. Determination of Number
The Ministry of National Defence shall determine the number of persons to be conscripted into the army every year.
Article 6. Presentation
Each year on January 20, each district military command will notify men who are 18 years of age or older and who have already been listed, to present themselves to such district military command within a period of no more than 20 days commencing on the date they are notified.
Women, if called, also have to present themselves to the [relevant] district military command.
Article 7. Selection of Conscripts
In the selection, the older persons will be the ones first recruited.
Article 10. Term of Service as Conscripts
The term of service as conscripts is two years starting from the date of recruitment by the relevant district military command.
Article 14. Volunteering to be Regular Soldiers
Conscripts who wish to volunteer to serve further as regular soldiers in the army have the right to state their objective to the military commander to whom they are attached no later than three months prior to the completion of their term of service as conscripts.
Article 16. Reserve Forces
The reserve forces consist of those who have undergone national defence as conscripts, those who have resigned as regular soldiers, and persons who have not served as conscripts or regular soldiers and who are of 18 to 50 years of age and have good health.
[square brackets in original]
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:
II. Definition of the child
25. As stated in the first report (part III, paras. 43 to 45), anyone aged under 18 is considered a child under the Lao legal system generally. At this age, the child is still under the care of parents or [a] guardian, whose prior consent must be obtained before action of any sort is taken, including the following.
g) Voluntary enlistment, conscription into the armed forces and participation in hostilities: under the Act on National Service Obligations, every male Lao citizen aged between 18 and 28 who is in good health must perform military service; where necessary, women aged between 18 and 23 may be called-up; the minimum age for army conscription is thus 18 (see also paras. 122 and 123 below).
VIII. Special protection measures (arts. … 38 and 39 [of the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child], …)
2. Children in armed conflict (art. 38), including physical and psychological recovery and social reintegration (art. 39)
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 [D]efence and Ministry of [S]ecurity) will take the necessary measures to protect the civilian population, including children.
123. To prevent children under 18 being called up or joining the army, the Act on National Service Obligations provides that, every year, the Ministry of National Defence is to determine the number of conscripts needed (art. 5), whereupon the head of the village draws up a list of the young people in the village over 17 and sends it to the district military command post to prepare for conscription (art. 4); the latter then summons the young people over the age of 18 to attend within 20 days, at the latest, from receipt of the summons. If young women receive a summons, they too must present themselves (art. 6); following a medical check-up, the district Military Service Committee selects from among the conscripts those who are in good health, in accordance with the number stipulated by the Ministry of National Defence; in making that selection, the oldest have to be taken first (art. 7). Overall, there are two stages to the process of supervising and monitoring this situation, namely: (a) village level, at which the list of young people is drawn up; and (b) district level, at which the Military Service Committee selects the conscripts.
126. In the current situation where everything is normal, the Government applies the general principles of the  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.
128. … [N]o measure has been taken to demobilize child soldiers, as the Lao People’s Army contains no soldiers below the age of 18.
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.