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

  • Population:
    – total: 8,279,000
    – under-18s: 1,723,000
  • Government armed forces:
    – active: 79,760
    – reserves: 303,000
    – paramilitary: 34,000
  • Compulsory recruitment age: 18
  • Voluntary recruitment age: 18
  • Voting age (government elections): 18
  • Child soldiers: none indicated
  • CRC-OP-CAC: not signed
  • Other treaties ratified: CRC; GC/API+II; ILO 138; ILO 182
  • There are no indications of child soldiers in government armed forces.


National Recruitment Legislation and Practice

Conscription is enshrined in Article 59 [Military Service] of the 1991 Constitution which states: (1) To defend the country shall be a duty and a matter of honour of every Bulgarian citizen (...) (2) The carrying out of military obligations, and the conditions and procedure for exemption there from or for replacing them with alternative service, shall be established by law.282 The present legal basis of conscription is believed to be the 1995 Law on Defence and Armed Forces of the Republic of Bulgaria, as amended in 1998.283 Other military legislation includes the Regulations on the Regular Military Service (1996); the Edict No. 265 on Civilian Defence (1998); Regulations on the Training of Conscripts and Retired Specialists (1992); and Regulations for Granting Delay to those called to the Armed Forces during Mobilisation of Retired Servicemen and Equipment (1996).284

According to information provided by Bulgaria to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, all Bulgarian men are subject to military service after turning 18 and the law does not provide for the possibility of accepting volunteers in the army at a lower age.285 The length of military service is 12 months, or 9 months in the case of university and college graduates.286

The Bulgarian Ministry of Defence has begun a downsizing, modernization, and reform programme (PLAN 2004) to create a smaller force structure of around 50,000 personnel.287 The Law on Alternative Service, which allows conscientious objectors to perform an alternative civilian service of double the duration came into force on 1 January 1999.288

Military Training and Military Schools

Until recently military training took place in the National Defence College and four Military Academies covering land forces, artillery and air defence, air force and navy. A number of military personnel are also sent abroad for training. The defence education system and scientific organisations are currently being reorganised. Existing military academies will be subsumed under the "G. S. Rakovsky" staff college, and the five military scientific institutes will be reorganised as the Institute for Advanced Research in Defence.289 No information is available on the age of entry into the military colleges.


283 Horeman and Stolwijk op. cit.

284, Ministry of Defence Annual report on the State of Defence and Armed Forces 1999, Sofia 2000.

285 Initial Report of Bulgaria submitted to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Doc. CRC/8/Add.29, 12/10/95, para. 40.

286 Horeman and Stolwijk op. cit.

287 CIA World FactBook 2000.

288 AI Report 2000 289Ministry of Defence Annual report op. cit.

289 Ministry of Defence Annual report op. cit.


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