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Child Soldiers Global Report 2008 - Norway

Publisher Child Soldiers International
Publication Date 20 May 2008
Cite as Child Soldiers International, Child Soldiers Global Report 2008 - Norway, 20 May 2008, available at: [accessed 16 December 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.

Population: 4.6 million (1.1 million under 18)
Government Armed Forces: 23,400
Compulsary Recruitment Age: 18
Voluntary Recruitment Age: 18
Voting Age: 18
Optional Protocol: ratified 23 September 2003
Other Treaties: GC AP I, GC AP II, CRC, ILO 138, ILO 182, ICC

There were no under-18s serving in the armed forces, but the Home Guard Youth was open to volunteers from the age of 16.


National recruitment legislation and practice

Article 109 of the Norwegian constitution stated that "as a general rule every citizen of the State is equally bound to serve in the defence of the Country for a specific period, irrespective of birth or fortune". Compulsory military service of 12 months (eight or nine months in practice) was regulated by the General Compulsory Service Act of 1953. The minimum age for voluntary military service in the Norwegian military was 18.1 While all men aged 18 to 44 were eligible for call-up, they were rarely conscripted after the age of 30. Conscripts to the National Guard served for six months, and were obliged to perform two weeks of reservist training each year until the age of 44.2

According to the Ministry of Defence, "conscription will be oriented towards the best qualified and motivated young people. To make sure the same information about military service is given to all regardless of gender, young women are being invited to attend a voluntary initial interview as from 2006."3

Military training and military schools

The Home Guard Youth was an entirely voluntary organization for young persons, providing "outdoor recreation and other physical and sporting activities with a military element", to be pursued in the young person's free time and without any liability for enrolment in the armed forces. The Home Guard Youth was open to volunteers from the age of 16. While formally a component of the Norwegian armed forces, according to the government "the Home Guard Youth cannot be considered to be recruited to the Norwegian Armed Forces within the meaning of the [Optional] Protocol because it is presumed that a person is not considered to have been recruited before she has formally or de facto become a member of the armed forces with the rights and obligations that this entails. Members of the Home Guard are not to receive any practical training in or take part in any other way in war-related activities and they are to be exempt from service in situations in which the armed forces could be involved in hostilities.... Furthermore the Home Guard Youth are not subject to military disciplinary authority or to the military penal code." Nevertheless, in July 2007 the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child stated that "despite the aforementioned safeguards of the Home Guard Act, the Committee is of the view that these kinds of activities with a 'military element' for children are not in full conformity with the spirit of the Optional Protocol". The Committee urged Norway "to raise the minimum age of volunteers joining the Home Guard from 16 years to 18 years in order to fully respect the spirit of the Optional Protocol and to provide full protection for children in all circumstances".4


In a November 2006 statement to the UN Security Council, the Norwegian ambassador welcomed the commitment of the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict to a work plan "that includes consideration of specific situations and regular review of all situations of concern". Emphasizing the need for "regular and substantive reports by the country level task forces ... followed up by adequate responses and resources", the ambassador noted that "Norway has already provided support to the reporting and monitoring system through UNICEF".5

In July 2007 the Committee on the Rights of the Child welcomed the proposed reform of the Penal Code which would "introduce as separate criminal offences those crimes which are listed in articles 6, 7, and 8 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, in particular article 8 ... which criminalizes conscripting or enlisting children under the age of fifteen years into the national armed forces or using them to participate actively in hostilities as a war crime". The Committee noted particularly that in criminalizing conscripting or enlisting children under the age of 18 for such purposes, the proposed new Penal Code would actually "introduce a higher standard than in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court".6

At a February 2007 ministerial meeting in Paris, Norway and 58 other states endorsed the Paris Commitments to protect children from unlawful recruitment or use by armed forces or armed groups and the Paris Principles and guidelines on children associated with armed forces or armed groups. The documents reaffirmed international standards and operational principles for protecting and assisting child soldiers and followed a wide-ranging global consultation jointly sponsored by the French government and UNICEF.

1 Initial report of Norway to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child on implementation of the Optional Protocol, UN Doc. CRC/C/OPAC/NOR/1, January 2006.

2 Quaker Council for European Affairs, The Right to Conscientious Objection to Military Service in Europe: A Review of the Current Situation, April 2005.

3 Ministry of Defence, "Norwegian Defence 2006",

4 Initial report, above note 1; UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Consideration of report submitted Norway, Concluding observations, UN Doc. CRC/C/OPAC/NOR/CO/1, 6 July 2007.

5 "Children Deserve Protection", Norwegian Statements at the United Nations, 30 November 2006,

6 Concluding observations, above note 4.

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