Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 January 2018, 10:13 GMT

Child Soldiers Global Report 2001 - Denmark

Publisher Child Soldiers International
Publication Date 2001
Cite as Child Soldiers International, Child Soldiers Global Report 2001 - Denmark, 2001, available at: [accessed 17 January 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: 5,282,000
    – under-18s: 1,105,000
  • Government armed forces:
    – active: 21,840
    – reserves: 64,900
  • Compulsory recruitment age: 18
  • Voluntary recruitment age: 18
  • Voting age (government elections): 18
  • Child soldiers: none indicated
  • CRC-OP-CAC: signed on 7 September 2000; supports "straight-18" position
  • Other treaties ratified: CRC; GC/API+II; ILO 182
  • There are no indications of under-18s in government armed forces. The minimum age for voluntary recruitment has recently been raised to 18.


National Recruitment Legislation and Practice

Article 81 of the 1953 Constitution states: "Every male person able to bear arms shall be liable with his person to contribute to the defence of his country under such rules as are laid down by Statute."594 The present legal basis of conscription is the 1980 National Service Act, as amended by Consolidating Act No. 190 of 2 April 1993 and Consolidating Act No. 1088 of 23 December 1998. According to Section 13 of the National Service Act, "[c]onscripts who are residents of or living in this country shall appear before the medical draft board in the year when they reach the age of 18. However, the Minister of the Interior may decide that the duty to appear shall occur later."595 Reportedly, conscripts who have applied voluntarily are drafted first.596 The minimum age for compulsory recruitment is 18.597

Military service lasts four months to two years. The selection of conscripts is by ballot, as the number of young men available for military service is much greater than the number required by the Danish National Forces. Therefore only 30 to 50 per cent of those liable to conscription are actually called up for military service.

According to Danish law it was previously possible to apply for voluntary membership of the Danish Home Guard from the beginning of the year in an applicant turns 18, i.e. the minimum age for voluntary service in the Danish Home Guard was 17. At the end of May 1998 it was decided to raise the minimum age for membership to 18. An amendment to the Danish Home Guard Act to this effect was adopted by the Danish parliament in February 2001 and came into force on 1 March 2001.598 The Minimum age for voluntary military service in all branches of the Danish Armed Forces is now 18.599

In February 1999, it was announced that the armed forces will be reduced by approximately 3,500. There are reportedly about 870 women in the armed forces, comprising 5 per cent of Denmark's regular military personnel (excluding conscripts).

Military Training and Military Schools

The Danish government has confirmed that minimum age for entry into military schools is 18.600


International Standards

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. In June 1999 Denmark was one of the few European countries to support a clear prohibition on the use of children as soldiers as one of the worst forms of child labour in ILO Convention 182.601 Denmark signed the CRC-OP-CAC on 7 September 2000 and supports a "straight-18" position.


595 Consolidating Act No. 1088 of 23rd December 1998.

596 Horeman and Stolwijk op. cit.

597 Information provided by the Royal Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs to CSC, 7/3/01.

598 Ibid.

599 Ibid.

600 Information provided by the Permanent Mission of Denmark in Geneva, 23/7/99.

601 Declaration by the Nordic Foreign Ministers against the Use of Child Soldiers, Reykjavik, 29/8/99.

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