Last Updated: Friday, 24 November 2017, 11:39 GMT

Child Soldiers Global Report 2001 - Senegal

Publisher Child Soldiers International
Publication Date 2001
Cite as Child Soldiers International, Child Soldiers Global Report 2001 - Senegal, 2001, available at: [accessed 25 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: 9,240,000
    – under-18s: 4,755,000
  • Government armed forces:
    – active: 9,400
    – paramilitary: 5,800
  • Compulsory recruitment age: 18
  • Voluntary recruitment age: 18
  • Voting age (government elections): 18
  • Child soldiers: none indicated
  • CRC-OP-CAC: signed on 8 September 2000; supports "straight-18" position
  • Other treaties ratified: ACRWC; CRC; GC/API+II; ILO 138; ILO 182
  • There are no indications of under-18s in government armed forces.


The Senegalese government and the Movement of Democratic Forces of the Casamance (MDFC) have struggled over the status of Casamance for 18 years, at a loss of some 1,800 lives. The government and MFDC signed a cease-fire in March 2001, however it is not known if Father Diamacoune, the MDFC leader who signed the accord, has full political backing from hard-line factions.1648

Senegalese troops supporting former President Vieira during the civil war in Guinea-Bissau withdrew in March 1999. Insurgents in Guinea-Bissau have reportedly been supported by the MDFC.1649 Senegal has contributed troops to Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) peace monitoring missions in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.1650


National Recruitment Legislation and Practice

Although the Constitution makes military service compulsory, in practice enlistment occurs on a voluntary basis. The government retains the right to call citizens to service at any time, but "this particular provision is used exceptionally as an enforcement measure within the framework of the civic and moral training of young people."1651

By law recruits must be between 18 and 21 years of age.1652 However, in practice the minimum enlistment age tends to be between 19 and 22.1653 The period of military service is 24 months, after which the recruit may choose to remain in the armed forces or be placed on the reserve list.1654 There is no evidence of under-18s in the Senegalese armed forces.

Military Training and Military Schools

There is a military secondary school (Prytanée Militaire, formerly Ecole Des Enfants De Troupe) in Saint-Louis where children are given both military and academic instruction. The boys, about 12 years of age when they enrol, are selected competitively. Some are citizens of other African countries including Mali, Burkina-Faso and Niger. Teachers are under the supervision of the Ministry of Education. Students are not part of the armed forces, but may enlist upon attaining their baccalauréat after seven years of secondary school.

There is also a military health school for the medical professions, in which applicants must have a general certificate of education and must be between ages 18 and 20. A military training school for officers that opened in 1998, l'Ecole d'Application de à Thiès, requires applicants to be at least 25 years old.1655


Child Recruitment

The MFDC, with an estimated 2,000 to 3,000 members,1656 has never formally pledged not to recruit children. It has been reported that children have fought with the MFDC but no precise figures are available and there is little evidence to support this.1657 The government has stated that there is no evidence of children being used as soldiers in the conflict.1658


International Standards

Senegal signed the CRC-OP-CAC on 8 September 2000 and supports a "straight-18" position.

1648 BBC News World Service, "Rebels sign Senegal peace", 16/3/01.

1649 UN IRIN-West Africa Update 888, "Guinea-Bissau army to move against Casmance separatists", 16/1/01.

1650 UN IRIN, "ECOMOG capable of defending border, ECOWAS head says", 24/1/01.

1651 Report of the Secretary-General, UN doc. E/CN.4/1995/99/Add.1. op. cit.

1652 Initial report of Senegal to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN doc. CRC/C/3/Add.31, Submitted 31/10/94.

1653 Information supplied by DCI-Senegal, 4/99.

1654 Report of the Secretary-General, UN Doc. E/CN.4/1997/99 op. cit.; Report of Senegal to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, op. cit.

1655 Information on military schools supplied by DCI-Senegal and UNICEF.

1656 IISS, Military Balance op. cit.

1657 DCI-Senegal op. cit.

1658 Statement by the Ministry of the Family and National Solidarity, Senegal at the International Conference on war-Affected Children, Winnipeg Canada, 9/00.

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