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

  • Population:
    – total: 23,706,000
    – under-18s: 9,660,000
  • Government armed forces:
    – active: 79,000
    – reserves: 8,000
  • Compulsory recruitment age: 18
  • Voluntary recruitment age: 18
  • Voting age (government elections): 18
  • Child soldiers: indicated in government armed forces
  • CRC-OP-CAC: signed on 7 September 2000
  • Other treaties ratified: CRC; GC/API+II; ICC; ILO 138
  • There are indications of under-18s in government armed forces but numbers are believed to be very small.


Although there is no armed conflict in Venezuela, Venezuelan armed forces are engaged in containing guerrilla movements along the border with Colombia. It has also been reported that Venezuelan children have been abducted by the Colombian armed group FARC and used as child soldiers.


National Recruitment Legislation and Practice

A new Constitution was approved by voters in a 15 December 1999 referendum.2112 According to Article 4 of the Law on Conscription and Military Enlistment (Ley de Conscripcion y Alistamiento Militar), Venezuelans over 18 years of age are liable for military service, which lasts for two years. The minimum age for voluntary recruitment is 18.2113

Child Recruitment

According to Amnesty International (AI) Venezuela, the requirement of 18 years of age for compulsory military service is respected. AI Venezuela reports, however, that in a very small number of cases, 17-year-olds present themselves for recruitment but they have to pass more demanding tests in order to be admitted.2114

Child Involvement in Military Related Activities

Article 71 of the Law on Conscription and Military Enlistment provides for a pre-military instruction which is obligatory for all students of the two ultimate years of Secondary Education or its equivalent, but this pre-military instruction does not exempt them from performing military service (Article 73). However, Venezuelans who receive military instruction in official or private institutions whose programmes are approved by the Ministry of Defence are considered to have performed military service (Article 63).


International Standards

Venezuela signed the CRC-OP-CAC on 7 September 2000.

2112 US State Department Human Rights Report, 1999

2113 Horeman and Stolwijk op. cit.

2114 Marin, C., AI, Youth Section, 14/4/99.


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.