Last Updated: Thursday, 26 May 2016, 08:56 GMT

Child Soldiers Global Report 2001 - Namibia

Publisher Child Soldiers International
Publication Date 2001
Cite as Child Soldiers International, Child Soldiers Global Report 2001 - Namibia, 2001, available at: [accessed 26 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: 1,695,000
    – under-18s: 817,000
  • Government armed forces:
    – active: 9,000
    – paramilitary: 6,000
  • Compulsory recruitment age: unknown
  • Voluntary recruitment age: 18
  • Voting age (government elections): 18
  • Child soldiers: none indicated; Namibian children recruited by Angolan armed forces
  • CRC-OP-CAC: signed on 8 September 2000; supports "straight-18" position
  • Other treaties ratified: CRC; GC/API+II; ILO 138
  • There are no indications of under-18s in government armed forces. There are continued reports that Namibian children, both boys and girls and some as young as 14, are recruited by armed forces from neighbouring Angola.


Namibia continues to face internal opposition in the Caprivi strip in the far north-east of the country where an armed opposition is claiming independence. Namibian Defence Force soldiers were sent to the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1998 and remained there throughout 2000. There were continuing reports of Namibian children being recruited into the Angolan armed forces.


National Recruitment Legislation and Practice

Chapter 9 of the Namibian Defence Force Personnel Policies provides, inter alia, that volunteers for the armed forces must be between the age of 18 and 25 years of age and Namibian citizens. These ages are also mentioned in the recruitment brochure of the Namibian Defence Force.1297

Article 15-2 of the 1990 Constitution states that "children ... shall not be employed in or required to perform work that is likely to be hazardous or to interfere with their education, or to be harmful to their health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development ..." However, this article defines a child as any person under 16 years of age.


There have been continuing reports that a large number of Namibians as young as 14, including teenage girls, have been recruited into the Angolan armed forces at Calai, a settlement on the Angolan side of the Kavango river.1298 Recent reports indicate that jobless Namibian boys between the ages of 14 to 16 have joined the Angolan Civil Defence Force Unit (CDFU), a division of the Angolan Armed Forces. The boys reportedly signed up with the CDFU at the FAA temporary base near the Namibian-Angolan border at Oehonge village near the Ohangwena region, approximately 10 km inside the Angolan border.1299


International Standards

Namibia signed the CRC-OP-CAC on 8 September 2000 and supports a "straight-18" position. During the National Assembly debate on ratification of the Optional Protocol at the time of publication, Child Welfare Minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah said: "It has always been the policy of the ruling party, SWAPO, not to integrate anyone under 18 years of age into its armed forces and that is not going to change with the NDF. Thus, why should the Namibian Government allow local youths to fight in foreign armies like the FAA if it was opposed to the integration of such youths into its own army?"1300

1297 Namibian Defence Force. Interested in joining the NDF?.

1298 RB, Children of War Newsletter, No.1/00.

1299 Irin News, NAMIBIA: Boys join Angolan military, 18/1/01; See also, AI, Angola and Namibia: Human Rights Abuses in the Border Area, AFR/03/01/2000.

1300 IRIN, "Namibia: government says 'no' to child soldiers", 30/04/01.

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