Last Updated: Tuesday, 31 May 2016, 12:25 GMT

Child Soldiers Global Report 2001 - Libya

Publisher Child Soldiers International
Publication Date 2001
Cite as Child Soldiers International, Child Soldiers Global Report 2001 - Libya, 2001, available at: [accessed 1 June 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: 5,471,000
    – under-18s: 2,514,000
  • Government armed forces:
    – active: 76,000
    – reserves(people's militia): 40,000
  • Compulsory recruitment age: 17, 18 or 19 (unclear)1134
  • Voluntary recruitment age: 14 or 16 (unclear)
  • Voting age (government elections): 18
  • Child soldiers: indicated in government armed forces
  • CRC-OP-CAC: not signed
  • Other treaties ratified: CRC; GC/API+II; ILO 138; ILO 182
  • There are indications of under-18s in government armed forces as conflicting information suggests that recruitment under 18 is possible, but children are reportedly not deployed.


National Recruitment Legislation and Practice

Article 16 of the Constitutional Proclamation of 11 December 1969 states that "[D]efence of the homeland is a sacred duty. Military service is an honour for the Libyan People". A similar principle is proclaimed in article 3 of the General People's Congress Law No. 20 of 1991 on the consolidation of freedom which states "[D]efending the homeland is a right and an honour and no male or female citizen must be deprived of it".

The minimum age for conscription is unclear. According to Act No. 9 of 1987 (as amended) concerning national service, national service is compulsory for all citizens who have attained 18 years of age.1135 However, the age of conscription is lower in the General People's Congress Law No 21 of 1991 on Mobilisation. Article 1 deals with the definition of terms used in this law, defining 'human resources' as "male and female citizen who attain their 17th year of age provided they are physically able to engage in combat and production." It has not been possible to obtain a copy of Act No. 9 of 1987 on national [military] service, to which this law refers. Other sources claim military service is compulsory for all men and women aged 18 to 35. In 1998 a Libyan representative told the Committee on the Rights of the Child (apparently referring to compulsory service) that "19 was the minimum age for military service, but [that] persons who had not yet completed their studies could postpone military service until the age of 26."1136 Military service is believed to last for 3 years in the army and 4 years in the navy and air force.

Libya reportedly accepts voluntary recruits from the age of 16 but under-18s are restricted to training and are not deployed in operations. During Libya's hearing before the Committee on the Rights of the Child, one Committee member reported receiving information that the minimum age for voluntary service in the armed forces was as low as 14.1137 It seems that only a small proportion of conscripts are actually recruited given the size of the armed forces and the potential number of recruits in terms of population size.

People who have acquired so-called 'Arab nationality', created by the Libyan government for workers from neighbouring countries who were recognised as Arabs, are also liable for military service.1138 Women are very involved in military activities.

Military Training and Military Schools

Children from the age of 16 are reported to attend military schools. Moreover, during their education all children receive preliminary military training from the age of 14 upwards. School children between 15 and 18 were once trained in the use of hand-weapons, but this scheme has reportedly been discontinued.1139 A military academy for young girls was created in 1979.1140

1134 Brett and McCallin op. cit.

1135 Initial Report of Libya to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Doc. CRC/C/28/Add.6, 26, 9/96, para. 40.

1136 UN Doc. CRC/C/SR.432, 12/1/98, paras. 63 and 65.

1137 Ibid. paras. 63 and 65.

1138 Horeman and Stolwijk op. cit.

1139 Ibid.

1140 Nicolas, C. "Libres, Libyennes", Le Nouvel Observateur, 7/5/97.

Search Refworld