Last Updated: Monday, 28 July 2014, 16:37 GMT

Child Soldiers Global Report 2001 - Norway

Publisher Child Soldiers International
Publication Date 2001
Cite as Child Soldiers International, Child Soldiers Global Report 2001 - Norway, 2001, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/498805dbc.html [accessed 29 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.

KINGDOM OF NORWAY

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

  • Population:
    – total: 4,442,000
    – under-18s: 1,028,000
  • Government armed forces:
    – active: 26,700
  • Compulsory recruitment age: 18; 16 during war
  • Voluntary recruitment age: 17 (men); 18 (women); 16 (Home Guard)
  • Voting age (government elections): 18
  • Child soldiers: indicated in government armed forces – about 100 recruited per year
  • CRC-OP-CAC: signed on 13 June 2000; supports "straight-18" position
  • Other treaties ratified: CRC; GC/API+II; ICC; ILO
  • There are indications of under-18s in government armed forces with approximately one hundred 17-year old volunteers accepted each year.

GOVERNMENT

National Recruitment Legislation and Practice

Article 109 of the 1814 Constitution states that: "As a general rule every citizen of the state is equally bound to serve in the defence of the country for a specific period, irrespective of birth or fortune. The application of this principle, and the restrictions to which it shall be subject, shall be determined by law."1381 Today's system of military service is based on the Military Service Act and the Home Guard Act, both adopted in 1953 (with later amendments). According to the Military Service Act of 17 July 1953 No. 29, a man is liable for military service from 1 January of the year he turns 19. Exceptions are made particularly in connection with military colleges. In the event of war, men may become liable for military service from 1 January of the year in which they turn 17, but older age groups are to be called up first.1382 Military service in the Army, Navy and Coastal Artillery lasts between 6 to 12 months, while service in the Air Force 12 lasts months. Those assigned to military service in the Home Guard may serve 6 months initial service in the army.1383

Postponements and exemptions of military service are possible. An application for exemption from military service is handled by the Ministry of Justice. If the Ministry approves the application, the applicant must spend 14 months performing civilian service. Rejected applicants must state whether they agree to military service. If no declaration is made by a specified date, the authorities must initiate legal proceedings. In 1999 there were 3,109 applicants for civilian service. In recent years 20 per cent of all applicants returned to the armed forces either at their own request or because their application was rejected.1384

Voluntary enlistment in the armed forces is possible for men beginning on the 1st of January of the year they turn 18.1385 Women may perform military service on a voluntary basis from the year they turn 19.1386 An amendment to the Acts from 1979 states that women who volunteer to serve in the Armed Forces become subject to the same rules for mobilisation and service as men.1387 Norway is today of the few countries which allows women into all kinds of combat duty. In June 1998, women accounted for 5 per cent of the armed forces.1388 Additionally, all citizens between the ages of 18 and 65 are liable to serve in the Civil Defence as part of the Total Defence System. Volunteers can serve from the age of 16. The Civil Defence Forces are not part of the armed forces.1389

Both females and males may volunteer to enlist in the Home Guard, which forms part of Norway's defence forces, from the age of 16 according to The Home Guard Act. However, adolescents in the Home Guard must not be mobilised before they complete initial compulsory military service.1390 Recruits under the age of 17 have the status of 'aspirants' and are trained in non-combat disciplines. They do not have uniforms nor are they trained with weapons (except the use of small calibre arms). From the age of 17, they are appointed as Home Guard Youth and trained with weapons but are not allowed to participate in action. When they turn 19 they become Home Guard Soldiers with a combatant status.1391

The government plans to substantially reduce and thoroughly reorganise Norway's defence. Conscription will be maintained, but with a new and more differentiated pattern based on four or twelve months' service combined with refresher training. The number of conscripts called for service will be reduced, with emphasis on the most qualified and suitable.1392

Armed Forces schools on all levels, from basic training to higher education, are open to both sexes. The Armed Forces offer education in many different fields.1393 Technical military colleges accept students from the age of 17, and officer training colleges accept students at the age of 18. Their compulsory military services starts upon admission.1394 In the Defence Budget report 2001 the Ministry of Defence stated that "Consideration must be given to a reduction in the overall intake quotas for military schools in the light of the coming restructuring of the Armed Forces."1395

Child Recruitment and Training

Currently about 100 new recruits in the Norwegian armed forces each year are 17.1396 There are currently about 1,700 Home Guard Youth, including 350 women.1397

DEVELOPMENTS

Legislative change

Norway is in the process of amending national legislation to comply with the principle of non-recruitment and non-participation of children below the age of 18. The proposed reforms would prohibit both compulsory and voluntary recruitment below the age of 18. However, volunteers between 16 and 18 years of age will still be allowed to participate in the Home Guard Youth, and volunteers over 17 will still be affiliated with the armed forces, i.e., under contracts of apprenticeship, for educational purposes not connected with Home Guard Youth activities. However, under-18s will be subject to the following measures.

  • They shall not be enrolled/enlisted or in any other way be registered/considered as members of the armed forces;
  • They shall not constitute part of the mobilisation force in any other way be affected by mobilisation plans;
  • They shall be free at any time and with immediate effect to terminate their affiliation with the armed forces;
  • They shall immediately be released from their affiliation with the armed forces if an armed conflict breaks out or becomes imminent, or if the armed forces or any part thereof has been ordered on a war footing;
  • They shall not be allowed to receive training in combatant disciplines nor shall they be allowed to participate in any other form of combatant activities.1398

International Standards

Norway signed the CRC-OP-CAC on 13 June 2000. During negotiations on the Optional Protocol in January 2000, the delegation of Norway stated that " as a country promoting the "straight-18" standard, Norway was satisfied that the age limit for participation in hostilities was set at 18.... Norway regretted that there was no consensus on raising the age limit to 18 years for voluntary recruitment into national armed forces".1399 Norway was also one of the very few European countries to support a clear prohibition on the use of children as soldiers in the ILO Convention on the Worst Forms of Child Labour. A declaration made by Nordic Foreign Ministers in August 1999 strongly supported the adoption of an Optional Protocol prohibiting all recruitment and deployment of under-18s.


1381 Blaustein and Flanz op. cit.

1382 Initial report of Norway to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Doc. CRC/C/8/Add.7, 12/10/93, para. 83; Fax from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Oslo, to CSC, 25/11/99; Periodic report of Norway to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Document No CRC/C/70/Add.2, 12/11/98.

1383 http://www.dep.no/archive/fdvedlegg/01/01/Ff200004.pdf, Norwegian Defence Facts and Figures 2001, pg. 53.

1384 Norwegian Defence Facts and Figures 2001, op. cit. page 15.

1385 Letter from the Permanent Mission of Norway to the United Nations, Geneva, to the QUNO, 19/2/98.

1386 Initial report of Norway to Committee on the Rights of the Child, op. cit., para. 84; and Periodic report, op. cit.

1387 Norwegian Defence Facts and Figures 2001, op. cit. page 15.

1388 Kozaryn, L. D. "NATO military women share views", American Forces Press Service, 17/6/98 and http://userpages.aug.com/captbard/NATOwomen.html Military Women of NATO countries. Military Women of NATO countries; http://odin.dep.no/fd/engelsk/publ/statsbudsjett/010011-990169/index-dok000-b-n-a.html, The Defence Budget 2001.

1389 Letter from the Permanent Mission of Norway to the United Nations, Geneva, to the QUNO, 19/2/98.

1390 Initial report of Norway to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, op. cit., para. 85 , Periodic report of Norway to the Committee on the Rights of the Child op. cit.; and www.global.march, op. cit.

1391 www.globalmarch.org, op. cit.

1392 http://odin.dep.no/fd/engelsk/aktuelt/pressem/010011-070079/index-dok000-b-n-a.html, Adapting Norway's Armed for to New Realities, 16/2/01, Press Release.

1393 Norwegian Defence Facts and Figures 2001, op. cit. page 58.

1394 Initial report of Norway to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, op. cit. para. 83; Periodic report of Norway to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, op. cit.; Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 25/11/99 op. cit.

1395 The Defence Budget 2001, op. cit.

1396 Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 25/11/99 op. cit.; and also www.globalmarch.org/worstformsreport/world/norway.html.

1397 www.globalmarch.org, op. cit.

1398 Paper circulated by the Norwegian Delegation to the European Conference on the Use of Children as Soldiers, Berlin, 18-20/10/99.

1399 E/CN.4/2000/74, 27/3/00 paragraph 159.

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