Last Updated: Monday, 23 October 2017, 10:48 GMT

Child Soldiers Global Report 2001 - Chile

Publisher Child Soldiers International
Publication Date 2001
Cite as Child Soldiers International, Child Soldiers Global Report 2001 - Chile, 2001, available at: [accessed 23 October 2017]
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: 15,019,000
    – under-18s: 5,082,000
  • Government Armed Forces:
    – active: 87,000
    – reserves: 50,000
    – paramilitary: 29,500
  • Compulsory recruitment age: 18
  • Voluntary recruitment age: 16-18 (unclear)
  • Voting age (government elections): 18
  • Child soldiers: unknown
  • CRC-OP-CAC: not signed
  • Other treaties ratified: CRC; GC/API+II; ILO 182
  • There is no evidence of under-18s in government armed forces, however the minimum age for voluntary recruitment is unclear and may be as low as 16.


National Recruitment Legislation and Practice

Article 22 of the Constitution provides that "Chileans have the fundamental duty to honour their fatherland, defend its sovereignty and contribute to the preservation of national security [...]. Military service [...] as prescribed by the law is compulsory on the terms and in the manner set forth therein. Chileans able to bear arms must be inscribed in the Military Registers, unless they are legally exempt from this requirement."

The Law on Recruitment and Mobilisation of the Chilean Armed Forces, Decree Law No.2.306 of 12 September 1978 regulates military service. Article 13 states that all Chileans of both sexes between 18 and 45 years of age are obliged to perform military service. Every year, all men who will reach their eighteenth birthday before 30 March of the following year must register before 30 September.387 Military service was reinstituted for women in 1999. Such service is voluntary and the women do not serve in combat units.388

According to one commentator the minimum age for voluntary recruitment is 16.389 Other commentators assert that there is no voluntary military service390 or that it can be performed only by men or women 18 years of age.391

According to the Government there is no voluntary service for minors, but 17 and 18-year-old students may voluntarily participate in military training courses on weekends during the winter in order rather than perform military service for an entire year. These courses do not include the use of weapons.392 There are a number of military schools in Chile. According to government officials, students under 18 needs parental authorisation attested by a notary. Students are not members of the armed forces.393


International Standards

Chile supported the adoption of 18 as the minimum age for recruitment and participation in hostilities394 but has not yet signed the CRC-OP-CAC.

387 Information obtained from the Comite de defensa de los derechos del Pueblo.

388 Maldonado, C., "Servicio military in Chile: del ejercito educador al modelo selectivo", 1996; also Chilean Army website on military service for women:

389 Goodwin-Gill, G. and Cohn, I., Child Soldiers, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1994.

390 Information obtained from the Comite de defensa de los derechos del Pueblo.

391 Maldonado, C., op. cit.

392 Statement of the Chilean Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the Latin American and Caribbean Conference on the Use of Children as Soldiers, Montevideo, Uruguay, 5-7 July 99; fax of the Ambassador to the Chilean Permanent Mission to the United Nations Office at Geneva sent to CSC, 30/7/9999.

393 Ambassador to the Chilean Permanent Mission op. cit.

394 Ibid.

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