Last Updated: Thursday, 18 January 2018, 16:17 GMT

Child Soldiers Global Report 2004 - Tunisia

Publisher Child Soldiers International
Publication Date 2004
Cite as Child Soldiers International, Child Soldiers Global Report 2004 - Tunisia, 2004, available at: [accessed 18 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.

Republic of Tunisia

Covers the period from April 2001 to March 2004.

Population: 9.7 million (3.4 million under 18)
Government armed forces: 35,000 (estimate)
Compulsory recruitment age: 20
Voluntary recruitment age: 18
Voting age: 20
Optional Protocol: ratified 2 January 2003
Other treaties ratified (see glossary): CRC, GC AP I and II, ILO 138, ILO 182

There were no reports of under-18s serving in the armed forces.


Tunisia was not involved in armed conflict. Al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for a bomb attack on the island of Djerba in April 2002. Tunisia participated in UN peacekeeping operations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia and Eritrea, Côte d'Ivoire and Kosovo.1


National recruitment legislation and practice

The constitution states that "the defence of the country and the integrity of its territory is a sacred duty of every citizen" (Article 15). Under Law No. 89-51 of 14 March 1989, recruitment into the armed forces is compulsory for all citizens once they have attained the age of 20, except if they have a medically certified impediment. Volunteers over the age of 18 may be recruited with the consent of their legal guardian.2 After training, conscripts may be deployed in the armed forces, or in non-military national service, for example in civil service administration.3

National service is for 12 months, and recruits subsequently belong to the reserve forces for a period of 24 years.4 From the beginning of 2003, women were required to perform military service.5 There were no indications of under-18s in the armed forces.6

The Child Protection Code, adopted in 1995, affirms the protection of children under international law and prohibits their involvement in armed conflicts (Article 18), and forbids the use of children to commit crimes, including acts of violence and terror (Article 19).7

Military training and military schools

Recruits between the ages of 18 and 23 may be admitted into military schools.8 Those under 20, the age of majority, require the consent of their legal guardian, and their first year counts towards the fulfilment of military service obligations.9

Other developments

Tunisia ratified the Optional Protocol on 2 January 2003.

As a member of the African Union, Tunisia supported the Common African Position, agreed at the Pan-African Forum for Children in Cairo in May 2001. The document included provisions to stop children, defined as anyone under the age of 18, being used as soldiers and to protect former child soldiers. The Common Position was presented to the Special Session of the UN General Assembly on Children on 8 May 2002.10

1 Tunisian government response to Child Soldiers Coalition request for information, received 20 April 2004.

2 Tunisian government, op. cit.

3 Law No. 89-51 of 14 March 1989, Articles 1 and 27; Declaration of Tunisia on ratifying the Optional Protocol, 2 January 2003,

4 Tunisian Ambassador to the UN, Geneva, correspondence of 11 January 1999; Operational Guidance Note: Tunisia, Immigration and Nationality Directorate, United Kingdom Home Office, 1 July 2001,

5 Al-Jazeera, "al-Mar'ah wa al-Amal al-Askari fi al-Alam al-Arabi" [Women and military work in the Arab world], 17 January 2003,

6 Coalition member in Tunisia, 11 March 2004.

7 Code de la protection de l'enfant (1995),

8 Tunisian government, op. cit.

9 Declaration of Tunisia on ratifying the Optional Protocol, op. cit.

10 The African Common Position as Africa's contribution to the special session of the General Assembly on children: Declaration, Pan-African Forum on the Future of Children, Africa Fit for Children, Egypt, 28-31 May 2001, in UN Doc. A/S-27/13, 16 April 2002,

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