Last Updated: Friday, 27 May 2016, 08:49 GMT

Child Soldiers Global Report 2001 - Guyana

Publisher Child Soldiers International
Publication Date 2001
Cite as Child Soldiers International, Child Soldiers Global Report 2001 - Guyana, 2001, available at: [accessed 29 May 2016]
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.


Mainly covers the period June 1998 to April 2001 as well as including some earlier information.

  • Population:
    – total: 855,000
    – under-18s: 311,000
  • Government armed forces:
    – active: 1,600
    – reserves: 1,500
  • Compulsory recruitment age: no conscription
  • Voluntary recruitment age: unknown
  • Voting age (government elections): 18
  • Child soldiers: unknown
  • CRC-OP-CAC: not signed
  • Other treaties ratified: CRC; GC/API+II; ILO 138; ILO 182
  • It is not known if there are under-18s in government armed forces due to lack of information on minimum recruitment age.


Social unrest followed elections in December 1997. In July 1998, political leaders, signed a "peace agreement" to end the violent protests. long-standing ethnic tensions, primarily between citizens of African descent and those of South Asian origin, have continued to polarise the society and political life.806


National Recruitment Legislation and Practice

The Guyana Defence Force (GDF) is recruited on a voluntary basis only. No information on the minimum age of recruitment is available. There are two militias currently operating in the country: the Guyana National Service (GNS) and the Guyana People's Militia (GPM). These paramilitary forces have a combined strength of approximately 3,000. The GNS is a voluntary organisation with limited military potential, which was created in 1973 in order to provide the government with a manpower source for public works and services. The militia is divided into various corps for young people from ages eight to twenty-five and composed of members of the Afro-Guyanese ethnic group.807 The GPM was created in 1976 during a period of heightened tension along the Guyana-Venezuela border. This corps was envisioned as a more ethnically diverse force than the GDF. The government agreed to form the People's Militia, but only as a supplementary security force, to assist regular forces in times of emergency.808

Both police and armed forces are mainly staffed by Afro-Guyanese.809 The low percentages of Indo-Guyanese in the police and GDF is partly due to the low pay and status, but also as a result of the marginalisation of the Indo-Guyanese community.810 Recent recruitment efforts targeted at the Indo-Guyanese community generally have met with unenthusiastic response, with most qualified Indo-Guyanese candidates opting for a business or professional career over military, police, or public service.811

806, AI/USA.

807 Centre on Conscience & War op. cit.; also http//, Bharat Rakshak, The consortium of Indian Military Websites.

808 US Library of The Congress op. cit.

809 US Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices 2000 – Guyana; also Bharat Rakshak op. cit.

810 Bharat Rakshak op. cit.

811 US Department of State op. cit.; also

Search Refworld