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