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Child Soldiers Global Report 2008 - Pacific Islands

Publisher Child Soldiers International
Publication Date 20 May 2008
Cite as Child Soldiers International, Child Soldiers Global Report 2008 - Pacific Islands, 20 May 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/486cb12228.html [accessed 30 July 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Republics of Kiribati and Nauru; Cook Islands, Niue, Independent State of Samoa; Republic of the Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of Palau; Tuvalu and Republic of Vanuatu (see individual entries for Solomon Islands, Fiji and Tonga)


Many of the Pacific Islands had no armed forces. Australia, New Zealand or the USA were responsible for defence assistance for eight of them, while Tuvalu and Vanuatu had no such defence arrangements with any state.

REPUBLICS OF KIRIBATI AND NAURU:

Population: 113,000 (aggregate)
Government armed forces: no armed forces
Compulsory recruitment age: not applicable
Voluntary recruitment age: not applicable
Voting age: Kiribati: 18; Nauru: 20
Optional Protocol: Kiribati: not signed Nauru: signed 8 September 2000
Other treaties ratified (see glossary): Kiribati: CRC Nauru: CRC, GC AP I and II, ICC


No armed forces were maintained by the governments of Kiribati or Nauru.

Government:

National recruitment legislation and practice

Australia and New Zealand provided defence assistance to Kiribati. Kiribati nationals volunteered in the past to join the UK armed forces, where the minimum age for voluntary recruitment is 16 (see UK entry). Australia was responsible, under an informal agreement, for the defence of Nauru.1 There was no specific national legislation on children and armed conflict.

Developments:

International standards

Kiribati presented its Initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child in August 2005, and the Committee recommended in September 2006 that the government ratify the Optional Protocol.2 Nauru ratified the Additional Protocols to the Geneva Conventions in 2006, but had not moved on the ratification of the Optional Protocol.

COOK ISLANDS, NIUE, SAMOA:

Population: Cook Islands and Samoa 203,000 (aggregate); Niue 1,000
Government armed forces: no armed forces
Compulsory recruitment age: not applicable
Voluntary recruitment age: not applicable
Voting age: Cook Islands and Niue: 18; Samoa: 21
Optional Protocol: not signed
Other treaties ratified (see glossary): Cook Islands: CRC, GC AP I and II Niue: CRC Samoa: CRC, GC AP I and II, ICC


No armed forces were maintained by the governments of Cook Islands, Niue and Samoa. Defence was provided by New Zealand.

Government:

National recruitment legislation and practice

New Zealand defined the relationship with the Cook Islands in August 1965 as "a form of full self-government in free association with New Zealand", New Zealand having responsibilities for external affairs and defence in consultation with them.3 The Niue Constitution Act 1974 stated that New Zealand was responsible for external affairs and defence.4 New Zealand's 1962 Treaty of Friendship with Samoa brought with it an obligation to consider sympathetically requests for defence assistance.5

The New Zealand armed forces administered a Mutual Assistance Programme, which aimed to support the Pacific Patrol Boat operations and the police of several island states in the Pacific, including training in using and securing small arms.6 Training support was provided to the Cook Islands and Samoan police forces.7

Developments:

Samoa presented its Initial report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in November 2005, stating that the government had continuously supported UN resolutions on children in armed conflict.8 The Committee recommended that Samoa ratify the Optional Protocol.9

REPUBLIC OF THE MARSHALL ISLANDS, FEDERATED STATES OF MICRONESIA, REPUBLIC OF PALAU:

Population: 192,000 (aggregate)
Government armed forces: no armed forces
Compulsory recruitment age: not applicable; no conscription in Marshall Islands during peacetime
Voluntary recruitment age: not applicable
Voting age: 18
Optional Protocol: Marshall Islands, Palau: not signed Micronesia: signed 8 May 2002
Other treaties ratified (see glossary): Marshall Islands: CRC, ICC Micronesia, Palau: CRC, GC AP I and II


No armed forces were maintained by the governments of the Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Palau. Defence was provided by the USA.

Government:

National recruitment legislation and practice

The USA maintained a separate Compact of Free Association (COFA) with each state, under which the US government had full authority and responsibility for security and defence in relation to the islands.10

The constitution of the Marshall Islands states, "No person shall be conscripted to serve in the armed forces of the Marshall Islands except in time of war or imminent danger of war as certified by the Cabinet, and no person shall be conscripted if ... he has established that he is a conscientious objector to participation in war" (Section 11).

According to the COFA between the USA and the Marshall Islands, no Marshallese citizen was subject to "involuntary induction into military service of the United States as long as such person has resided in the United States for a period of less than one year" (Section 341).11 A similar provision was made in the USA's agreement with Micronesia.12

It was estimated that hundreds of citizens from the Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Palau continued to serve in all five branches of the US armed forces.13 At least five soldiers from the Marshall Islands and Palau were killed in combat in Iraq.14

No specific legislation on children in armed conflict had been enacted.

Developments:

The Marshall Islands presented its Second periodic report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child in December 2004, but failed to appear twice at Committee sessions where the report was to be reviewed.15

TUVALU AND VANUATU:

Population: 221,000 (aggregate)
Government armed forces: no armed forces
Compulsory recruitment age: not applicable
Voluntary recruitment age: not applicable
Voting age: 18
Optional Protocol: Tuvalu: not signed Vanuatu: ratified 27 September 2007
Other treaties ratified (see glossary): Tuvalu: CRC Vanuatu: CRC, GC AP I and II, ILO 182


No armed forces were maintained by the governments of Tuvalu or Vanuatu. There were no reports of under-18s in the security or paramilitary forces in Vanuatu.

Context:

On 3 March 2007 serious violence erupted in the outskirts of Port Vila, Vanuatu, involving members of the communities of Tanna and Ambrym Islands living in the capital. According to reports, the violence broke out after residents of Tanna Island claimed that a sorcerer from Ambrym Island had cast a spell that killed a Tanna woman.16 The government declared a state of emergency on 5 March and scores of Ambrym community members took refuge at the Vanuatu Mobile Force (VMF) camp in Port Vila.17

In November 2006, members of the Papuan armed opposition group, the West Papuan National Liberation Army (TPN-PB), appeared to be operating from Port Vila, the Vanuatu capital, where the group's first national congress was held.18

Government:

National recruitment legislation and practice

There were no regular military forces in Vanuatu, and members of the other security forces had to be at least 18 years old. The police force had approximately 500 officers, including a police maritime wing and the paramilitary Vanuatu Mobile Force (VMF).19

The police were the only security force in Tuvalu.

There were no specific laws on children in armed conflict.

Developments:

International standards

Vanuatu ratified the Optional Protocol in September 2007 and in 2006 ratified ILO Convention 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labour. Its Declaration to the Optional Protocol stated that the minimum age for voluntary recruitment is 18.


1 New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Nauru-Country Information Paper, www.mfat.govt.nz.

2 UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Consideration of report submitted by Kiribati, Concluding observation, UN Doc. CRC/C/KIR/CO/1, 29 September 2006.

3 Government of the Cook Islands, Definitions of the Constitution, Special Relationship with New Zealand, www.ck/govt.htm.

4 Niue Constitution Act 1974, Analysis, Article 6: External Affairs and Defence, www.paclii.org.

5 New Zealand Ministry of Defence, Defence Portfolio: Briefing to the Incoming Government 2005, www.defence.govt.nz.

6 New Zealand Ministry of Defence, Annual Report 2006, Part 1 - Overview, www.defence.govt.nz.

7 Ibid.

8 Initial report of Samoa to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Doc. CRC/C/WSM/1, 16 February 2006.

9 UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Consideration of report submitted by Samoa, Concluding observations, UN Doc. CRC/C/WSM/CO/1, 16 October 2006.

10 See www.fm/jcn/ (Marshall Islands); US Department of State, Background note: Micronesia, www.state.gov/; and US Department of State, Background note: Palau, www.state.gov.

11 Republic of the Marshall Islands, Public Law 108-188, 17 December 2003, www.rmiembassyus.org.

12 Joint Committee on Compact Economic Negotiations (ICN), Compilation of Agreements between the Government of the Federated States of Micronesia and the Government of the United States related to the Compact of Free Association, Washington, DC, 2002, www.fm.

13 US Department of the Interior, Office of Insular Affairs, www.doi.gov/ "Islanders in the Military" (Military Highlights).

14 Ibid., "Islanders in the Military" (Insular Heroes).

15 "Marshall Islands a No-Show at Committee on the Rights of Child Review", Yokwe Online, 24 January 2007, www.yokwe.net.

16 "Vanuatu chiefs to meet over riots", National Nine News (Australia), 6 March 2007, http://news.ninemsn.com.au.

17 "Displaced Ni-Vanuatu get help from France", Pacific Islands Report, 20 March 2007, http://pidp.eastwestcenter.org.

18 Human Rights Watch (HRW), "Protest and Punishment: Political Prisoners in Papua", Human Rights Watch, Vol. 19, No. 4(C), February 2007.

19 US Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices 2006, Vanuatu, 6 March 2007, www.state.gov.

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