UNICEF – Afghan child soldier

Child Soldier Global Report 2008

Optional Protocol: acceded 24 September 2003

Other treaties ratified

CRC (Convention on the Rights of the Child. Also, UN Committee on the Rights of the Child),

ICC (International Criminal Court)

In 2006 the government launched a National Strategy for Children at Risk. Designed by the Ministry of Martyrs, Disabled and Social Affairs, with the support of UNICEF and other partners, it was intended to improve care for vulnerable children and their families.

National recruitment legislation and practice

Afghanistan’s declaration on acceding to the Optional Protocol stated that “according to the Decree No. 20 dated 25 May 2003 on the voluntary enrolment to the Afghan National Army … the minimum age for recruitment of Afghan Citizen to an active military service is limited by the age of 22 to 28. All recruitments of personnel in the Afghan National Army is voluntary and is not forced or coerced”. A presidential decree (No. 97) issued in December 2003 amended the minimum age of recruitment into the ANA to 18. There was anecdotal evidence of the recruitment of under-18s by the ANA and unconfirmed reports of under-18s falsifying their identification records to join.[1]

Developments:  At a February 2007 ministerial meeting in Paris, Afghanistan and 58 other states endorsed the Paris Commitments to protect children from unlawful recruitment or use by armed forces or armed groups and the Paris Principles and guidelines on children associated with armed forces or armed groups. The documents reaffirmed international standards and operational principles for protecting and assisting child soldiers and followed a wide-ranging global consultation jointly sponsored by the French government and UNICEF.[2]

[1] US Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices 2006.


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