Practice Relating to Rule 136. Recruitment of Child Soldiers
At the 27th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent in 1999, Thailand pledged “to prevent the recruitment of children below the age of 18 years into the situation of armed conflict”.
In 2004, in its second periodic report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Thailand stated that “the minimum age by law for conscription, pursuant to Military Service Act (1954), indicates that every Thai man who has attained the age of 20 years will be recruited into the armed forces or can volunteer to do so”.
In 2006, upon accession to the 2000 Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, Thailand made the following declaration:
1. Military service is compulsory by law. Thai men reaching the age of 18 have a duty to register on the inactive military personnel list. At the age of 21, selected inactive military personnel will become active military personnel. Inactive military personnel may also voluntarily apply to become active military personnel to serve in the national armed forces. Women are exempt from compulsory military service both in times of peace and in times of war, but are subjected to other duties assigned by law.
2. In times of war or national crisis, inactive military personnel (men aged over 18) may be recruited to participate in the armed forces.
3. Admittances to military schools such as Army Non-commissioned Officer School, Air technical Training School, Navy Non-Commissioned Officer School, Armed Forces Academies Preparatory School and Army, Naval, and Air Forces Academies is on a voluntary basis, depending on the success in the entrance examinations and subject to the consent of parents or legal guardians.
4. High school and university students regardless of gender may voluntarily apply to receive military training from the Army Reserve Command, with the consent of parents or legal guardians, without any exception. Students who complete 3 years’ training are exempt from military service (as active military personnel) when they reach the age of 21.
5. Non-governmental militias are prohibited by law, regardless of the age of persons concerned.
In 2009, 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, Thailand stated:
3. For the purposes of the implementation of the  Optional Protocol [on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict], 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. The most important legislative framework concerning the involvement of children in armed conflict is the Military Service Act of 1954. Under this Act:
23. Thai men reaching the age of 18 have a duty to register on the inactive military personnel list at the districts of their domiciles within the year in which they turn 18. They will be considered “inactive military personnel” from 1 January of the following year onwards.
24. Official documents for registration include:
Birth certificate or identity card
Once the documents are verified and approved by the district officer, a form known as Sor Dor 9 will be issued.
2. Call-up notice
26. Every male aged 21 must report for a physical examination within the year in which he reaches 21 at the district of his domicile.
27. Upon receiving a call-up notice, the inactive military personnel must report to the authority on the date and at the time and venue specified in the notice. Such notice will be issued only to those who have already registered on the inactive military personnel list, namely:
All males aged 21 in the year of conscription
All males aged between 22–29 years who have never undergone conscription or whose exemption status has expired[.]
28. … Selected inactive military personnel will become active military personnel. …
30. Thus, no person under 18 years is forcibly recruited to join the Thai armed forces … In no circumstances will a reduction in the age of inactive military personnel below 18 years be allowed, even in times of national crisis.
B.2. Voluntary recruitment
31. Inactive military personnel may also voluntarily apply to become active military personnel to serve in the national armed forces. Details of the application and qualifications of the applicants are specified in the Defense Ministerial Regulation of 2000 as follows:
(1) A person voluntarily applying to become active military personnel must be between 18–20 years of age and physically qualified. …
(2) Documents needed for the application include a Sor Dor 9 form (issued upon registration for inactive military personnel and indicating date of birth); a copy of passport; and letter of consent from parents or legal guardian;
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. These can be categorized into pre-undergraduate and undergraduate levels.
3.1 Pre-undergraduate level
33. Include: Armed Forces Academies Preparatory School, Royal Thai Air Force Band, Royal Thai Navy Band, Royal Thai Army Band, Military Technical Training School, Military Survey School, etc.
Minimum age for attendance: 12 years and over.
Military service status. For some schools, such as the Royal Army Band, students will be admitted into a military service upon completion of their studies. For other schools, such the Royal Thai Army Band, higher study is required. Admittance into military service for some schools is also based on a physical examination, general knowledge examination and consent from parents or legal guardian.
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. For some schools, students will be admitted into a military service upon completion of their studies. If the studies are financed by private means, the students are entitled to pursue careers outside the armed forces. Age of graduation in most cases is 18 years and over.
35. In addition to these schools, there are military training units at some educational institutes which are open to interested people of both genders who are over 16 years of age and have parental consent.
36. Thai laws have provisions prohibiting the recruitment of children below 18 years of age into its armed forces as mentioned in Chapter 2. Thailand does not have a policy which allows individuals or groups to establish operational bases on Thai soil which might affect the sovereignty and security of other countries. Thus, there are no armed groups operating within the territory of Thailand. Relevant agencies are required to carry out strict surveillance and supervision of temporary shelters to prevent covert cross-border recruitment of children taking refuge in these shelters. If there is evidence of any person taking away children taking temporary refuge in Thailand for recruitment purposes, such person will be criminalized according to the Thai Penal Code and the Child Protection Act of 2003, regardless of the offender’s nationality.
In 2011, in its combined third and fourth periodic reports to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Thailand stated: “Regarding the protection of children involved in armed conflict, the Military Service Act of 1954 requires Thai males to register for voluntary military service at the age of 18, and for compulsory military service at the age of 21.”