resources: research and reports

August 2013

This paper, published by ForcesWatch and Child Soldiers International, indicates that the risk of fatality in Afghanistan for British Army recruits aged 16 and completed training has been twice as high as it has for those enlisting at 18 or above. This increased risk reflects the disproportionately high number of 16 year olds who join front-line Infantry roles. This is mainly the result of recruitment policies which drive the youngest recruits into the Army’s most dangerous roles.

updated May 2013

This ForcesWatch briefing outlines the methods and rationale of the military's engagement with young people within the education system and highlights potential developments in this area, including projects under consideration or development by the Armed Forces and the Department of Education.

April 2013

This report published by Child Soldiers International and ForcesWatch outlines the numerous ethical and legal concerns related to rhe recruitment of under-18s, including the disproportionately high level of risk they face and long-term consequences for their employability, as well as detailing how much more it costs than recruiting only adults.

15 March 2013

Men who have served in the UK Armed Forces are more likely to commit a violent offence during their lifetime than their civilian counterparts, according to new research by King's Centre for Military Health Research at King's College London.


Research from Homeless Links's Survey of Needs and Provison suggests that while levels of homelessness among ex-service personnel is not high, it is widespread. Approximately half the day centres in England reported that they work with some ex-service personnel, however second stage accommodation reported much lower rates. This suggests that ex-service personnel do face a high risk of falling into patterns of rough sleeping, albeit for fairly short periods.

Research by the Centre for Housing Policy at York University in 2008 found that an estimated six per cent of London’s non-statutory homeless population had served in the Armed Forces. Although this represented a substantial drop from the proportion (approximately one quarter) reported in the mid-1990s, it showed that a higher proportion of ex-service personnel have alcohol, physical and/or mental health problems compared to the rest of the rough sleeping population.

July 2012

Published by Child Soldiers International

The minimum recruitment age for the British armed forces – 16 years – is one of the lowest in the world. The Ministry of Defence has traditionally justified recruiting from this age group by asserting that 16 years reflects the minimum statutory school leaving age.

This report concludes that the impact of recruitment below the age of 18 opens up a number of gaps that have long term significance, not only for the armed forces but also for the young people that they recruit. At a time of considerable downsizing of the army in particular, the large gap between the cost of training minors (who cannot be deployed operationally) and adults (who can) is difficult to sustain. But perhaps the most significant cost is in the detrimental impact that the gaps identified have on the future prospects of minors recruited by our armed forces.

May 2012


  • Countering the Militarisation of Youth introduction
  • Challenging the military's involvement in education in the United Kingdom
  • Universities, the Bundeswehr and “networked security”
  • How the U.S. collects data on potential recruits
  • Recruitment of and resistance by queers - example Sweden
  • Child Soldiers: Learning from Kony2012?
  • Countering the Militarisation of Youth
  • African Nonvio­lence Trainers Exchange
November 2011

Published by the Quaker United Nations Office in November 2011, this short booklet reflects recent changes in international law and practice that indicates that recognition of conscientious objection to military service as a human right is now stronger than ever. The publication in available in English, French or Spanish.

March 2011

This report, published by the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, "challenges the status quo currently surrounding the situation of young people in the UK armed forces today. It questions the ethics and legality of the restrictions on young recruits’ rights of discharge, their minimum period of service, and their exposure to the risk of hostilities. The report also makes the case for a considered review and debate on the minimum recruitment age. It highlights the evidence that not only is the experience of recruits in the 16 – 18 age bracket adversely affected by their relative lack of maturity, but that their high drop-out rate results in millions of pounds in wasted expenditure."

March 2011


  • Israel: Schools as Recruiters
  • Venezuela — Revolution as Spectacle
  • Militarism All Over Schools in Turkey
  • Venezuela: Military in the classroom
  • Soldiers in the playground
  • Winning hearts and minds over to the army and defence industry
  • Publicity campaign in the classroom
  • Military in Schools in the United States

A forthcoming report on military recruitment to the UK armed forces reveals that cost of recruitment activity (up to when a recruit signs up) has increased from £66 million in 2001/02 to £95 million in 2007/08. For each recruit who goes on to complete training and join the deployable 'trained strength', the cost has risen from £6,812 in 2001/02 to £11,015 in 2007/08.

May 2010

A study published in May 2010 called What are the consequences of deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan on the mental health of the UK armed forces? found that armed forces personnel engaged in combat suffered PTSD at over twice the rate of the general population and that the symptoms may start to present themselves for up to a decade after deployment. The occurrence of other mental disorders, at nearly 20%, is also higher than the general population.

January 2010

This research published in 2010 has found that the army visited 40% of London schools from September 2008 to April 2009 and disproportionately visits schools in the most disadvantaged areas. The researchers conclude that, “the army's recruitment activities in schools risk jeopardising the rights and future welfare of the young people contacted. 

November 2009

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.


In this report, the think-tank Ekklesia, argue that Remembrance Day needs to be re-imagined to make it more inclusive, more truthful and more meaningful for future generations, says this report. This would include an honest acknowledgement that some did “die in vain”, an end to “selective remembrance”, a positive stress on peacemaking, and making Armistice Day a bank holiday.

The report follows the death of the 'last Tommy', Harry Patch from World War 1, who sadly described current patterns of Remembrance Day as “just show business”.

October 2008

Tobias Pflüger, MEP

This publication gives a detailed overview of the right to conscientious objection in the countries of the European Union (including candidate countries), and as far as possible of practices regarding this right. It has become obvious that the situation regarding the right to conscientious objection within the European Union is not good. Most countries of the EU are far from conforming with the existing international standards: of the United Nations, the Council of Europe, or the European Parliament.

It looks at the situation country by county. For the UK it concludes that: 

  • The regulations governing the right to conscientious objection are not in the public domain, and information is difficult to obtain by members of the public, and also by members of the Armed Forces.
  • Decision making on an application for conscientious objection in the first instance is by the respective branch of the Armed Forces itself, and not by an independent body. Only the appeal body – the Advisory Committee on Conscientious Objectors – is an independent body.
May 2008

Report of Inquiry into the National Recognition of the Armed Forces published by the Labour Government in 2008. The report was concerned with measures to

increase the recognition that we give to our Armed Forces - including wearing uniforms in public, the idea of a national Armed Forces Day, greater support for homecoming parades, and an expansion of cadet forces, which we know bring benefit to the Armed Forces and young people alike...[involving] local authorities, voluntary bodies, the private sector and, above all, the people up and down the country who devote their time to running cadet units or military charities, or who need another way of expressing their appreciation for what our Armed Forces do for us.

It made forty recommendations for 'increasing visibility', 'improving contact', 'building understanding' and 'encouraging support' for the Armed Forces.

In October 2008 the Government response indicated how each measure identified in the Inquiry report would be addressed.