Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 February 2018, 16:20 GMT

Child Soldiers Global Report 2001 - Azerbaijan

Publisher Child Soldiers International
Publication Date 2001
Cite as Child Soldiers International, Child Soldiers Global Report 2001 - Azerbaijan, 2001, available at: [accessed 22 February 2018]
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: 7,697,000
    – under-18s: 2,717,000
  • Government armed forces:
    – active: 72,100
    – reserves: some 575,700
    – paramilitary: 15,000+
  • Compulsory recruitment age: 18
  • Voluntary recruitment age: 18
  • Child soldiers: none indicated in government armed forces; indicated in opposition armed forces
  • CRC-OP-CAC: signed on 8 September 2000; supports "straight-18" position
  • Other treaties ratified: CRC;GC; ILO 138
  • Although military training and registration for military service under 18 are areas of concern, there are no reports of government recruiting under-18s. Recruitment and use of child soldiers (some as young as 14) by opposition forces in Nagorno-Karabakh have been reported.


Since 1988 there has been an ongoing conflict with Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh, a breakaway republic which falls within Azeri territory but is under the military control of Armenia. As a result of the conflict Azerbaijan has approximately a million refugees as well as a large number of internally displaced people.157 In 1999, the cease-fire was reported to be holding with the possibility of the peace process entering a more promising phase158 (see also Armenia entry).


National Recruitment Legislation and Practice

The legal basis for conscription is contained in the 1991 Law on Armed Forces (as amended by decrees in 92 and 93)159 and the 1995 constitution (art 76.1) states: "The defence of the homeland is the duty of every citizen. Citizens shall serve in the armed forces according to the order specified by law."160 The Government has stated that the minimum age for service in the armed forces is currently 18 years.161 The maximum age for military service is 27162 with the length of service expected to be two years.163 According to one source, during situations of armed conflict all women between the ages of 18 and 45 are also liable for military service.164 President Heydar Aliyev signed a decree on 26 June 1999 activating conscription for males born in 1981 and aged 18.165

Male citizens who have turned 17 years of age are registered in the local enrolment offices.166 The Azerbaijani government has stressed that while 17 year olds are registered they are not eligible for actual recruitment or participation in armed conflict under 18.167

During the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in 1993 and 1994, there were reports of forced recruitment by the armed forces as legal recruitment procedures failed to attract sufficient recruits. Draft evasion and desertion remain high.168

Military Training and Military Schools

Military schools are open to those over 17 years of age according to UNICEF, and based on information provided by the Ministry of Defence. It is further claimed that "students of military schools are considered as temporary real military servants".169 In 1997, a Save the Children representative visited a boarding school outside Baku and subsequently reported that there were children from age 7 and upwards wearing uniform and receiving military training.170


The self-defence forces of Nagorno-Karabakh, called Fank, were created in 1992 and they are distinct from the Armenian regular armed forces. In the early 1990s these forces had a mainly defensive character, but their operational scope is now reported to have expanded.171 In 1998, they were said to number 25,000 people of which 13,000 were local conscripts and 12,000 were volunteers coming from Armenia and the diaspora (mainly from Russia and Georgia).172

Child Recruitment

Some sources say that 17 years is the minimum age for recruitment in a "a form of conscription ... imposed by the self-proclaimed 'Armenian republic of Nagorno-Karabakh'".173 According to another source, conscription is indeed compulsory but only for men aged between 18 and 45 years.174 Some reports suggest the participation of children as young as 14 but it is unconfirmed whether this was with Karabakhi or Armenian forces.175


International Standards

Azerbaijan signed the CRC-OP-CAC on 8 September 2000 and has signalled its support for the "straight-18" position.

157 Abdul, M., "The Karabakh Knot: Mediators Try to Balance Justice and a Violent Force", Caspian Crossroads Magazine, Vol. 3, Issue No. 4, Spring 1998.

158 AI Report 2000.

159 Ibid.

160 Blaustein and Flanz op. cit.

161 Summary record of the 391st meeting of the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Consideration of the Initial Report of Azerbaijan, UN Doc. CRC/C/SR. 39, 28/8/97, para. 3.

162 Azerbaijan's parliament amends law on military service. RFE/RL Newsline, 29/3/99.

163 "The Question of Conscientious Objection to Military Service", Report of the Secretary-General pursuant to Commission resolution 1995/83, UN Doc. E/CN.4/1997/99.

164 Horeman and Stolwijk, op. cit.

165 BBC Monitoring International Reports, "Azeri President orders conscription and demobilization", BBC Monitoring Service, 26/6/99.

166 Information received from UNICEF, 16/6/99.

167 Report on the European Conference on the Use of Children as Soldiers, 18-20 October 1999, Berlin, Germany quoting government representative attending the conference.

168 Horeman and Stolwijk op. cit.

169 Horeman and Stolwijk op. cit.

170 RB,

171 "Karabakh building up army to fight Azerbaijan, Azeri paper says", BBC Monitoring Service, 22 February 1999.

172 Balencie, and de La Grange op. cit. p. 1325.

173 Swedish TV/Aktuellt, 1996, quoted by RB,

174 Balencie and de La Grange, op. cit. p. 1325.

175 There has also been photographic evidence of the participation of a 14-year-old soldier guarding the land corridor between Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh in 1995 but it is not certain that the boy belonged to Karabakhi forces.23. Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies, Armed Conflict Report 1995, Project Ploughshares, Waterloo, Ontario, quoted by RB,

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