Republic of Benin

Covers the period from April 2001 to March 2004.

Population: 6.6 million (3.5 million under 18)
Government armed forces: 4,550 (estimate)
Compulsory recruitment age: 21
Voluntary recruitment age: 21
Voting age: 18
Optional Protocol: signed 22 February 2001
Other treaties ratified (see glossary): CRC, GC AP I and II, ICC, ILO 138, ILO 182; ACRWC

There were no reports of under-18s in the armed forces.


A serious problem of child trafficking and child labour was repeatedly highlighted by nongovernmental organizations and others. In March 2004 the government set up a national child protection committee to oversee the fight against child trafficking, as well as the work of child protection organizations.1

Benin provided troops, military observers and police officers to peacekeeping operations under the command of the UN or the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in a number of countries including Côte d'Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Liberia.2


National recruitment legislation and practice

The 1990 constitution states that the defence of the nation and its territorial integrity is the duty of all citizens, and that military service is compulsory under the terms set down by law (Article 32).3 Recruitment to the armed forces is governed by Law no. 63-5 of 30 May 1963 as amended by Ordinance no. 75-77 of 28 November 1975. The minimum age for conscription or voluntary enlistment is 21.4 Conscription is selective and military service is for 18 months.5

1 IRIN, "Benin: Government creates anti-child trafficking committee", 2 March 2004,

2 UN Peacekeeping, Contributors,

3 Constitution,

4 Initial report of Benin to UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Doc. CRC/C/3/Add.52, 4 July 1997,

5 Civil and political rights, including the question of conscientious objection to military service, Report of the UN Secretary-General to UN Commission on Human Rights, UN Doc. E/CN.4/2000/55, 17 December 1999,; International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), The Military Balance, 2003-2004.


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