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

  • Population:1566
    – total: 9,997,500
    – under-18s: 2,063,430
  • Government armed forces:
    – active: 44,650
    – reserves: 210,930
    – paramilitary: 45,800
  • Compulsory recruitment age: no conscription
  • Voluntary recruitment age: 18
  • Voting age (government elections): 18
  • Child soldiers: none indicated
  • CRC-OP-CAC: signed on 6 September 2000; supports "straight-18" principle
  • Other treaties ratified: GC/API+II; ILO 138; ILO 182
  • There are no indications of under-18s in government armed forces. Portugal recently made changes to its recruitment legislation: conscription is no longer practised and the age for voluntary recruitment is firmly set at 18.


National Recruitment Legislation and Practice

Article 276 of the Constitution, pursuant to the recent changes introduced by Constitutional Law 1/97 of 20 September, states in paragraph 2: "Military service shall be regulated by law, which shall prescribe the forms, voluntary or compulsory nature, duration and content of the respective service". Military service, which was previously compulsory in accordance with the Constitution has ceased to be so and its regime is now governed by ordinary law.1567

Under the 1987 Military Service Law (30/1987) men between 18 and 35 were liable for conscription,1568 and voluntary service was permitted at the age of 171569 "with the consent of whoever exercises parental authority in respect of the young person concerned."1570 However a new Military Service Law was adopted (Law 174/99) on 21 September 1999, establishing voluntary military service at a minimum enlistment age of 18.1571 The new Law on the Military Service entered into force on 14 December 2000.1572 Conscription no longer exists. There is no minimum age for admission into the National Republican Guard but recruits must have completed their military service, thus they are over 18.1573 Recent changes in recruitment legislation mean that under-18s will not in effect be part of the National Republican Guard.

Military Training and Military Schools

According to information given by the Government, the minimum age for admission into military education establishments is 17.1574 One source indicates that students obtain military status after completing the training. Each year there are about 780 students in these establishments.1575 For admission to the Air Force Academy, persons under 18 years can apply if they have obtained parental authorization. There is no specification of a minimum age but it is indicated that candidates have to be at least 1.60m.1576 Candidates for the Army Sergeant School (Escola de Sargentos do Exército) have to be 18 years old to be admitted.1577


International Standards

Portugal signed the CRC-OP-CAC on 6 September 2000 and supports the "straight-18" position. A declaration was made at the time of signature as follows: " Concerning article 2 of the Protocol, the Portuguese Republic considering that it would have liked the Protocol to exclude all types of recruitment of persons under the age of 18 years – whether this recruitment is voluntary or not, declares that it will apply its domestic legislation which prohibits the voluntary recruitment of persons under the age of 18 years and will deposit a binding declaration, in conformity with number 2 of article 3 of the Protocol, setting forth 18 years as the minimum age for voluntary recruitment in Portugal".1578

1566 Information provided by C. de Albuquerque, Procuradoria Geral da República, Gabinete de Documentaçáo e Direito Comparado, 21/9/99 and16/3/01.

1567 Information provided to the Coalition by Tavares, R., Procuradoria Geral da República, Gabinete de Documentáo e Direito Comparado, 20/8/99.

1568 See respectively, Diário da República, No. 153, 7/7/87 and Diário da República, No. 138, 19/9/91. Further details on conscription are contained in Articles 10, 14, 28, 24. See also Horeman and Stolwijk op. cit.

1569 Article 22 of the 1987 Law. See also Communication from the Permanent Mission of Portugal to the UN in Geneva to the CSC, 2/9/99.

1570 Initial Report of Portugal submitted to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Doc. CRC/C/3/Add.30, 16/9/94, para. 19.

1571 Information provided by de Albuquerque, C., op. cit.; Information confirmed by a document provided by the Embassy of Portugal in Berlin to the Conference on the Use of Children as Soldiers in Europe, Berlin, 18-20 October 1999.

1572 Information provided by de Albuquerque, C. op. cit.

1573 Communication from the Permanent Mission of Portugal to the United Nations in Geneva to QUNO, 17/2/98.

1574 Communication from the Permanent Mission of Portugal to the UN in Geneva to CSC, 2/9/99; de Albuquerque, C., op. cit.

1575 de Albuquerque C., op. cit.

1576 http://www.emfa.pt/afa/adm3.htm.

1577 http://www.ep-sargentos-exercito.rcts.pt/pt/link06.htm.

1578 Albuquerque, C. op. cit.


This 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.