ForcesWatch's submission to the Armed Forces Bill committee raising concerns relating to the human rights of service personnel with the Armed Forces Bill Committee and making a number of recommendations to bring the UK into line with current international standards and improve terms of service.
Child Soldiers International is campaigning to stop the recruitment of under 18s into the British armed forces.They work to prevent the recruitment and use of children as soldiers, to secure their demobilisation and to ensure their rehabilitation and reintegration into society.
The present recruitment age of sixteen is too young to enter full time military training. If you are not old enough to vote, buy a pint in a pub, to ride a motorbike or even to buy fireworks are you not also too young to join the army?
An independent report by David Gee, published in 2007, highlighting the risks posed to young people through joining the military, how young people from disadvantaged communities are targeted, how information available to potential recruits is often misleading and how the terms of service are complicated, confusing and severely restricting. The research found that a large proportion join for negative reasons, including the lack of civilian career options.
ForcesWatch press release
ForcesWatch press release
Defence Secretary Liam Fox is being urged to uphold the right of armed forces personnel to be given a discharge if they develop a conscientious objection.
In their report on Children's Rights, the UK Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights recommended that the 'UK adopt a plan of action for implementing the Optional Protocol, including these recommendations, fully in the UK, together with a clear timetable for doing so.' The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child recommendations under the Optional Protocol were that the UK 'reconsider its active policy of recruitment of children into the armed forces' and a number of other measures.
United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict
The UK remains the only EU country to recruit 16 year olds into the military and one of very few EU countries to recruit 17 year olds. The UK has signed the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict yet there is evidence that the UK continues to target children from vulnerable groups and that safeguards to protect under-18s are not effective.
Quakers and Unitarians have welcomed the move by Julian Huppert, Liberal MP for Cambridge and Caroline Lucas, Green MP for Brighton, to table an Early Day Motion calling on Parliament to raise the age of recruitment into the armed forces to eighteen.