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Child Soldiers Global Report 2004 - Libya

Publisher Child Soldiers International
Publication Date 2004
Cite as Child Soldiers International, Child Soldiers Global Report 2004 - Libya, 2004, 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.

Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya

Covers the period from April 2001 to March 2004.

Population: 5.4 million (2.1 million under 18)
Government armed forces: 76,000
Compulsory recruitment age: 18
Voluntary recruitment age: 17
Voting age: 18
Optional Protocol: not signed
Other treaties ratified (see glossary): CRC, GC AP I and II, ILO 138, ILO 182; ACRWC

The minimum voluntary recruitment age was 17, but it was unknown whether under-18s were serving in government armed forces. There was legal provision for 17 year olds to engage in combat. Sixteen to 19 year olds received military training.


On 12 September 2003 the UN Security Council lifted the sanctions imposed on Libya after the bombing of a Pan Am flight which exploded over the town of Lockerbie, in Scotland, in 1988, killing 270 people. Libya accepted "civil responsibility" for the bombing and offered compensation under a deal with the USA and the United Kingdom (UK). In December 2003 the Head of State, Colonel al-Gaddafi, declared that Libya was giving up its attempts to develop chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.1


National recruitment legislation and practice

Under the National Service Act No. 9 of 1987, "National service shall be compulsory for every male citizen who has attained 18 years of age and is no older than 35" (Article 1).2 However, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child noted with concern that the "Mobilization Act No. 21 of 1991 allows for persons of 17 years to, among other things, engage in combat" and recommended its amendment so that under-18s were not deployed as active combatants in wartime.3

The minimum age for voluntary recruitment in the armed forces is 17 years, according to the Military Service Act No. 40 of 1974 (Article 6). However, Libya informed the Committee on the Rights of the Child that "Exemption from the age limitation may be granted by a decision of the Chief of General Staff of the Armed Forces, as permitted under Act No. 6 of 1977".4

Military training and military schools

Secondary school students aged between 16 and 19 receive military training and weapons instruction.5 A military academy for girls, created in 1979, accepts girls holding a secondary school certificate (shahadah thanawiyah) and who are below the marriageable age of 20. Training in the academy is for two years.6

Other developments

As a member of the African Union, Libya supported the Common African Position, agreed at the Pan-African Forum for Children in Cairo in May 2001. The document included provisions to stop children, defined as anyone under the age of 18, being used as soldiers and to protect former child soldiers. The Common Position was presented to the Special Session of the UN General Assembly on Children on 8 May 2002.7 Libya's representative to the UN Special Session on Children said that Libya was "studying the two protocols to the Convention of the Rights of the Child ... with a view to acceding to them."8

1 Amnesty International Report 2004, http://web.

2 Second periodic report of Libya to UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Doc. CRC/C/93/Add.1, 19 September 2002,

3 UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Concluding observations: Libya, UN Doc. CRC/C/15/Add.209, 4 July 2003.

4 Second periodic report of Libya to UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, op. cit.

5, a website providing information on education in the Middle East and North Africa, htm.

6 "al-Mar'ah wa al-Amal al-Askari fi al-Alam al-Arabi" [Women and military work in the Arab world], discussion on Al-Jazeera, 17 January 2003, comment by Sergeant Fathiya Abu Turaba of the Girls Military Academy, http://www.aljazeera. net/programs/ladies/articles/2003/1/1-17-1.htm.

7 The African Common Position as Africa's contribution to the special session of the General Assembly on children: Declaration, Pan-African Forum on the Future of Children, Africa Fit for Children, Egypt, 28-31 May 2001, in UN Doc. A/S-27/13, 16 April 2002,

8 Statement by Libyan Secretary of Social Affairs to UN Special Session on Children, 9 May 2002,

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