Mainly covers the period June 1998 to April 2001 as well as including some earlier information.

  • Population:
    – total: 27,867,000
    – under-18s: 11,030,000
  • Government armed forces:
    – active: 198,500
    – reserves: 150,000
    – paramilitary (active): 42,000
  • Compulsory recruitment age: 18
  • Voluntary recruitment age: 18
  • Voting age (government elections): 20
  • Child soldiers: none indicated
  • CRC-OP-CAC: signed on 8 September 2000; supports a "straight-18" position
  • Other treaties ratified: CRC; GC/API+II; ILO 138; ILO 182
  • There are no indications of under-18s in government armed forces.


In 1976, after the withdrawal of Spain from Western Sahara, an armed conflict broke out between Morocco and the opposition Popular Front for the Liberation of the Saquiat al-Hamra and the Rio de Oro (Polisario Front), which had proclaimed an independent 'Saharan Arab Democratic Republic'. On 6 September 1991 a UN-sponsored cease-fire came into effect and a United Nations Mission (MINURSO) was established. A referendum for self-determination among the Western Saharan population was due to be conducted, but has been postponed many times. There has been no fighting between Morocco and the Polisario Front since the UN peace plan in 1991.


National Recruitment Legislation and Practice

Article 16 of the 1972 Constitution states that "All citizens contribute to the common defence of the homeland."1237 Eighteen years is the minimum age for voluntary or compulsory recruitment in the armed forces as fixed by the Royal Decree of 9 June 1966.1238 There is no evidence of underage recruitment into the Moroccan armed forces.1239 According to UNICEF, the minimum age of 18 years applies to all civil servants and the legislative provisions are enforced.

Military service lasts 18 months. Although service is, in theory, compulsory for all males (with possible exemptions), not all are called up and it seems that urban youths are more likely to perform military service because of their better education. Moreover it is believed that the majority of those enrolled are volunteers, and because of the popularity of joining the armed forces only one out of 60 volunteers are admitted. There is also the possibility for recruits to perform a two-year civilian service in government departments.1240

Military Training and Military Schools

There are four military schools in the country where children are enrolled at the end of primary school, but they officially become members of the armed forces only after passing the national exam organised every year for students with high school diplomas. Successful students then enrol in various military graduate schools (air force, navy, etc.).1241 Military high school students who are under 18 follow the same training programmes as pupils in national education system. They may leave at any time.1242


  • Polisario Front: 3,000-6,000 fighters1243

The Polisario Front is still believed to be forcibly recruiting into its ranks. However many recruits reportedly join the Front as a way of leaving the refugee camps. No information is available on the minimum age for recruitment.


International Standards

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

1237 Constitutions of the World op. cit.

1238 Report of Morocco to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, CRC/C/28/Add.1, 19/8/95, para 50.

1239 Information supplied by UNICEF.

1240 Horeman and Stolwijk op. cit.

1241 Ibid.

1242 Report of Morocco to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, op. cit. para 51.

1243 IISS 2001.


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