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Child Soldiers Global Report 2008 - Serbia

Publisher Child Soldiers International
Publication Date 20 May 2008
Cite as Child Soldiers International, Child Soldiers Global Report 2008 - Serbia, 20 May 2008, available at: [accessed 21 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.

Population: 9.9 million (2.2 million under 18)
Government Armed Forces: 39,700
Compulsary Recruitment Age: 17
Voluntary Recruitment Age: 18
Voting Age: 18
Optional Protocol: ratified 31 January 2003
Other Treaties: GC AP I, GC AP II, CRC, ILO 138, ILO 182, ICC

Compulsory recruitment took place in the year an individual turned 18 and the minimum age for voluntary recruitment was 18.


Montenegro declared its independence in June 2006 following a referendum, and seceded from the state of Serbia and Montenegro, the loose union of two semi-independent republics created in 2003 following the break-up of former Yugoslavia. Kosovo remained under the administration of the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK).1 Its military security was maintained by the Kosovo Force (KFOR), a NATO-led mission under a UN mandate.2

Serbia remained party to all international agreements, treaties and conventions to which Serbia and Montenegro had been a party. A new constitution was approved by over 53 per cent of voters in a referendum in October 2006, and endorsed by parliament in November. A Strategic Defence Review in 2006 committed Serbia to considerable restructuring which would prepare the armed forces for involvement in multilateral defence activity. In November 2006 Serbia was invited to join the NATO Partnership for Peace program.3

Serbia's lack of co-operation in arresting and transferring indicted suspects to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (Tribunal) resulted in the suspension of talks on a Stabilization and Association Agreement with the European Union (EU). The former Serbian president, Slobodan Milosevic, on trial before the Tribunal for war crimes and crimes against humanity, died in March 2006 following a heart attack.4


National recruitment legislation and practice

In its initial report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child the government stated that the conscription process began with registration at the start of the calendar year in which a citizen turned 17. Actual recruitment to the armed forces took place in the year an individual turned 18, although recruitment could take place at age 17 if specifically requested. Military service could be deferred until the age of 21, should conscripts wish to complete their education first. However, military service could commence at any time after the conscript became 18 years old. In a time of war, 17-year-olds could be required to perform military service on order of the president.5

In its declaration on ratification of the Optional Protocol, the government stated that the minimum age for voluntary recruitment was 18.6

In June 2006 the defence minister announced army reforms which included the creation of a volunteer army by 2015.7

Military training and military schools

The Ministry of Defence provided military education at a military gymnasium and a military academy.8

1 Amnesty International Report 2007.

2 NATO, Kosovo Force,

3 UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Country Profile,

4 Amnesty International, above note 1.

5 Initial report of Serbia to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Doc. CRC/C/SRB/1, 31 August 2007.

6 Declaration on ratification of the Optional Protocol,

7 Centre for Civil – Military Relations, "Army reforms continue", 15 June 2006,

8 Ministry of Defence,

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