Last Updated: Friday, 17 November 2017, 15:16 GMT

Child Soldiers Global Report 2001 - Greece

Publisher Child Soldiers International
Publication Date 2001
Cite as Child Soldiers International, Child Soldiers Global Report 2001 - Greece, 2001, available at: [accessed 17 November 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: 10,626,000
    – under-18s: 2,034,000
  • Government armed forces:
    – active: 159,170
    – reserves: some 291,000
    – paramilitary: 4,000
  • Compulsory recruitment age: 18; younger during war or mobilisation
  • Voluntary recruitment age: 17
  • Voting age (government elections): 18
  • Child soldiers: indicated in government forces
  • CRC-OP-CAC: signed on 7 September 2000; does not support the "straight-18" position
  • Other treaties ratified: CRC; GC/API+II; ILO 138
  • There are indications of under-18s in government armed forces as volunteers may serve from the age of 17. There is no armed conflict in the country but Greece remains in a state of general mobilisation.


Since 20 July 1976 Greece has been in a continuous state of general mobilisation owing to the Cyprus conflict and tension with neighbouring Turkey.764


National Recruitment Legislation and Practice

The Constitution of 1975, as amended in 1986, states in its Article 4(6) that: "Every Greek capable of bearing arms is obliged to contribute to the defence of the fatherland as provided by law".765 Law No. 2510 of June 1997 (amending Article 1 of the Law 1763/1988 governing military service) on conscription entered into force in January 1998.766 Article 3 states that men may be called to military service beginning in January of the year they turn 19 – thus including 18-year-olds. However, the government retains the right to recruit men from January of the year they turn 18, in special circumstances when the country faces increased mobilisation needs – thus including 17-year-olds.767 Furthermore, Article 14(2) specifies that "[d]uring a general mobilization or war period, it may be permitted, by decision of the Minister of National Defence not published in the Government Gazette, the voluntary enlistment, as volunteers, of conscripts or reservists who belong to an age-group or category which has not been called up for enlistment, as well as of fellow countrymen, who have completed their seventeenth-year of age and do not exceed their fiftieth one. (...)."768 This suggests that individuals under 17 years of age could, in theory, be conscripted.

Article 5 states that full military service lasts twenty-four months and a reduced service twelve, six or three months. However it is possible to postpone enlistment for the purposes of higher education, or to fulfill a reduced or alternative social-civil service (e.g. conscientious objectors).769 Eighteen per cent of conscripts do not perform military service.770

Greece's armed forces are currently in the process of reform and will be based on an increased number of professional personnel. As part of this process the Greek Parliament adopted in 1999 the Law on Universal Defence, according to which all Greeks between 18 and 60 (excluding pregnant women, women with children under the age of 12, and persons already serving in the armed forces) must complete up to four days' service a year in universal defence units. Although defence units perform a range of functions, units in border areas may be armed in certain circumstances "in cases of war, mobilization or tension or for the purpose of scheduled exercises in peace time". Failure to report for service is punishable by one month imprisonment; repeat offences carry a three-month prison sentence.771

Greece became the first European Union country to conscript women, and only the second in the Western world, after Israel.772 In 1998 there were 717 women in uniform making up about 3.75 per cent of the Greek armed forces.773 In early 1999, a 'Mum's Army' was to be created and women were to receive compulsory military training for several weeks each year, excluding sick and pregnant women as well as mothers of children under 12 would be exempt.

Military Training and Military Schools

There are military schools and academies in Greece including: the Hellenic Army Academy; the Hellenic National Defence College which provides advanced education to officers from the Armed Forces, Law Enforcement Agencies, the Coast Guard, as well as to officials; and the Hellenic Nursing Military Academy. Information about minimum entry age is not available.774


International Standards

Greece signed the CRC-OP-CAC on 7 September 2000 but does not support the "straight-18" position.

764 Horeman and Stolwijk op. cit.


766 AI Report 1999.

767 Law No 2510 (Government Gazette of the Hellenic Republic, First Bulletin, Issue No 136/27 6/97,

768 Article 14(2). See Government Gazette of the Hellenic Republic, First Bulletin, Issue No. 136/ 27/6/97,


770 Horeman and Stolwijk op. cit.

771 AI Report 1999.

772 "Athens sets up Mum's Army", The Guardian, 22/8/98.

773 Kozaryn, L. D., NATO Military Women Share Views, 17/6/98

774 and

Search Refworld