Last Updated: Friday, 19 January 2018, 17:46 GMT

Child Soldiers Global Report 2001 - Iceland

Publisher Child Soldiers International
Publication Date 2001
Cite as Child Soldiers International, Child Soldiers Global Report 2001 - Iceland, 2001, available at: [accessed 20 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: 279,000
    – under-18s: 78,000
  • Government armed forces:
    – active: nil
    – paramilitary (Coast Guard): 120
  • Compulsory recruitment age: no conscription
  • Voluntary recruitment age: not applicable
  • 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; ICC; ILO
  • There are no armed forces in Iceland and legislative provisions governing potential recruitment for the defence of the country indicate that only those over 18 would be required to participate if such a situation were to arise.


National Recruitment legislation and Practice

Iceland has no armed forces and only a small Coast Guard is maintained.845 Iceland relies on the United States for its defence under the 1951 Defense Agreement. which established the Keflavík base.846

There have never been armed forces or compulsory military service in Iceland.847 However, Article 75 of the Iceland Constitution (No. 33, 17 June 1944, as amended 30 May 1984 and 31 May 1991) seems to reserve this right as it states that: "Every person able to carry arms shall be obliged to take part in the defence of the country, as may be further provided by law."848 This provision has never been put to the test, but in its report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child the government indicated that "men capable of bearing arms" would be interpreted with the age of 18 as an absolute minimum.849

Iceland has contributed medical personnel and police officers to peacekeeping operations in the Balkans and is planning to increase and broaden its participation in the civilian aspects of peacekeeping.850


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. Iceland signed the CRC-OP-CAC on the 7 September 2000 and supports the "straight-18" principle.

845 IISS, Military Balance, op. cit.

846 Horeman and Stolwijk op. cit.

847, Iceland's First Report on the Application of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, CRC/C/5 dated 30/10/91.


849 Iceland's Report on the Convention on the Rights of the Child, op. cit.

850, Speech by Prime Minister of Iceland at Millennium Summit of the United Nations, New York, 6 September 2000.

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