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

  • Population:
    – total: 12,411,000
    – under-18s: 5,063,000
  • Government armed forces:
    – active: 57,500
    – reserves: 100,000
    – paramilitary: 270
  • Compulsory recruitment age: 18; registration from 17
  • Voluntary recruitment age: unknown
  • Voting age (government elections): 18
  • Child soldiers: unknown
  • CRC-OP-CAC: signed on 6 September 2000; apparently supports the "straight-18" position
  • Other treaties ratified: CRC; GC/API+II; ILO 138
  • There are no indications of under-18s in government armed forces but further information is needed on the minimum age for voluntary recruitment. There is no armed conflict in the country, although there have been reports of Colombian insurgents using Ecuadorian territory.


National Recruitment Legislation and Practice

Article 188 of the 1998 Constitution provides that "Military service is compulsory. However, under Article 108 of the 1994 Law on the Regulation of Compulsory Military Service, citizens will be assigned to civil service in the community if a conscientious objection is invoked because of moral, religious or philosophical grounds in the manner determined by law."

The 1994 law on military service provides that it is mandatory to be 18 years old to be included in the ballot to perform military service. Article 45 states that military service lasts 12 months. In cases of war or national emergency, the President of the Republic, at the request of the Defence Ministry, can extend military service for as long as needed under the circumstances. During such time, the National Security Law empowers the armed forces to mobilise the reserve forces.635 Article 55 of the National Security Law provides that Ecuadorians and foreigners residing in Ecuador, who are between the ages of 18 and 60 years, are obliged to perform individual service during mobilization without distinction based on sex or living conditions.

The 1994 Law establishes procedures for compulsory recruitment. Military registration takes place every year in which military lists are drawn up and a ballot conducted to choose those who will actually be required to perform military service. Those who have not been selected must buy their military certificate by paying the so-called compensation quota. Article 14 of the Law allows for exemption from military service, such as for military and police school students, or postponement of the obligation.636

Child Recruitment and Deployment

The Permanent Mission of Ecuador to the United Nations Office in Geneva informed the Coalition in March 2001 that "there are no individuals under 18 serving in the Ecuadorian Armed Forces", nor does the Government have evidence of individuals under 18 years of age participating in military activities in Ecuadorian territory.637

Military Training and Military Schools

Boys and girls in their 5th year of secondary school are given the option of taking a pre-military course which lasts for one academic year and consists of helping out in military barracks and receiving military instruction on Saturdays. According to officials, students have the right to choose one of three options for extracurricular activities on Saturday morning: (a)Pre-military preparation; (b) Community Services; and (c)Alphabetization/Literacy activities. Students in the program are not part of the Ecuadorian Armed Forces. Military schools also exist for the children of military personnel but according to officials, students are not instructed in military life and are not members of the Ecuadorian military.638


International Standards

Ecuador signed the CRC-OP-CAC on 6 September 2000 and it is now before the National Congress for ratification. Ecuador appears to uphold the 'straight-18' position.639

635 Official Diary No. 527, 15 September 1994, Reglamento del Servicio Militar Obligatoria; see also Horeman, B., Stolwijk, M, Refusing to Bear Arms: A World Survey of Conscription and Conscientious Objection to Military Service, War Resisters' International, London, 1998.

636 See Pablo de la Vega, Centro de Documentacion en Derechos Humanos "Segundo Montes Mozo", S.J", Quito, Ecuador, August 1999.

637 Letter to the Coalition from Permanent Mission of Ecuador to the United Nations in Geneva, 7 March 2001.

638 Ibid.

639 Ibid.


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