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Armed Forces: Recruitment

Volume 481: debated on Tuesday 21 October 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will review the appropriateness of the minimum age at which people can join the armed forces; and if he will (a) make it his policy that those under the age of 18 years may not take a direct part in hostilities in any circumstances and (b) renew the Government's declaration on the UN optional protocol on the Convention on the Rights of the Child in relation to armed conflict. (228800)

The Government made clear in their interpretive declaration when ratifying the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict that the armed forces would continue to recruit from age 16, but made a clear commitment to take all feasible measures to ensure that those who had not yet reached the age of 18 years old did not take a direct part in hostilities. The Government remain committed to meeting their obligations under the protocol and there are no plans to change the interpretive declaration.