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Child Soldiers Global Report 2008 - Hungary

Publisher Child Soldiers International
Publication Date 20 May 2008
Cite as Child Soldiers International, Child Soldiers Global Report 2008 - Hungary, 20 May 2008, available at: [accessed 25 November 2015]
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.

Population: 10.1 million (2.0 million under 18)
Government Armed Forces: 32,300
Compulsary Recruitment Age: 18
Voluntary Recruitment Age: 18; 17 with parental consent
Voting Age: 18
Optional Protocol: signed 11 March 2002
Other Treaties: GC AP I, GC AP II, CRC, ILO 138, ILO 182, ICC

The minimum voluntary recruitment age was 17 with parental consent. It was not known whether under-18s were serving in the armed forces.


National recruitment legislation and practice

All men between the ages of 18 and 50 living in Hungary were liable for conscription.1 However, the government's Second Periodic Report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child stated that "universal conscription" for men started at age 17.2 They had to register with the authorities by 1 January of the year they were 18. Regular military service, armed or unarmed, was for six months, with obligations for reserve service of up to five months. Before enlistment, certain conscripts declared fit for military service could volunteer to take part in preliminary home defence specialized training with the approval of the Recruiting Command. Alternative civilian service was for 11 months, and could be carried out in hospitals, schools or other public services. Conscripts could be enlisted between the ages of 18 and 25, or could volunteer from the age of 17 with parental consent. Those over 18 could apply for the voluntary military reserve. Professional contracted military service was available for Hungarian citizens aged from 18 to 47.3

Another source indicated that conscription was suspended in November 2004 but could be reintroduced during war or emergency, and that by December 2004 the armed forces were comprised entirely of volunteers.4

Military training and military schools

Military educational institutions included the Beri Balogh Adam Secondary-school and Dormitory for Home Defence for elementary school students (boys and girls) below the age of 17. The intake was 60 pupils and the course was for four years. Students aged between 18 and 23 could attend the Kinizsi Pal Professional Non-commissioned Officers Training School or the Zrinyi Miklos National Defence University for officers.5


At a February 2007 ministerial meeting in Paris, Hungary and 58 other states endorsed the Paris Commitments to protect children from unlawful recruitment or use by armed forces or armed groups and the Paris Principles and guidelines on children associated with armed forces or armed groups. The documents reaffirmed international standards and operational principles for protecting and assisting child soldiers and followed a wide-ranging global consultation jointly sponsored by the French government and UNICEF.

In 2002 Hungary had advised the UN General Assembly Special Session on Children that the constitutional process for ratifying the Optional Protocols to the Rights of the Child was under way.6 In 2006 the Committee on the Rights of the Child urged Hungary as a matter of urgency to ratify the Optional Protocols,7 but as of October 2007 Hungary had not done so.

1 The laws governing conscription are the Statute on National Defence (CX/1993), as amended; Government Decree on the execution of the Statute on National Defence (178/27 December 1993); Statute on Service Relations of Conscripts (XLIV/1996); Decree on the Judgment of Fitness for Military Service (7/1996); and Statute on Civilian Service (XXI/1997).

2 Second Periodic Report of Hungary to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Doc. CRC/C/70/Add.25, 24 May 2005.

3 Ministry of Defence, (Recruitment, General conscription, Contracted military service).

4 Quaker Council for European Affairs, "Country report: Hungary", The Right to Conscientious Objection in Europe: A Review of the Current Situation, April 2005,

5 Ministry of Defence, above note 3 (Recruitment, Educational institutions).

6 Permanent Mission of Hungary to the UN, Statement by State Secretary Imre Szakacs, 8 May 2002,

7 Committee on the Rights of the Child, Consideration of report submitted by Hungary, Concluding observations: Hungary, UN Doc. CRC/C/HUN/CO/2, 17 March 2006.

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