Practice Relating to Rule 136. Recruitment of Child Soldiers
Ukraine’s Military Service Law (1992) states that 18 years is the recruitment age for the armed forces. Adolescents of 15 to 17 years old can enter military schools after having passed a medical examination. Military education and military service for persons who have not reached 15 years of age are forbidden.
In 2008, in its first periodic report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, Ukraine stated:
8. The Constitution provides for military conscription with a view to preparing the population to defend the country. Under article 65 of the Constitution, citizens are obliged to defend their homeland and Ukrainian independence and territorial integrity, and respect its national symbols. Citizens perform military service in accordance with the law and are bound by the Constitution to defend their homeland and Ukrainian independence and territorial integrity.
9. Children under the age of 18 years are not conscripted into the Ukrainian Armed Forces. Under article 15 of the Military (General Conscription and Service) Act, physically fit males who have attained the age of 18 by the day of their enlistment but are not yet 25 years of age and who do not have the right to be exempt from or to defer national service are called up during times of peace.
10. Unlawful conscription for national service is punishable under the Code of Administrative Offences.
13. Ukrainian legislation identifies the following main (insofar as the Optional Protocol is concerned) categories of citizens who can be found in the country’s armed forces:
- Those called up for national service in times of peace after reaching 18 years of age (Military (General Conscription and Service) Act, art. 15)
- Those enlisted (contractually) for military service after reaching 19 years of age (Military (General Conscription and Service) Act, art. 20)
- Cadets or students of higher military academies or higher education institutes with military studies departments enlisted for military service or training on condition that they turn 17 in the year that they enrol in training (Military (General Conscription and Service) Act, art. 20)
Article 4 [of the 2000 Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict concerning the recruitment of children by armed groups]
15. … 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.
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.