Kingdom of Tonga

Covers the period from April 2001 to March 2004.

Population: 103,000 (45,000 under 18)
Government armed forces: not known
Compulsory recruitment age: no conscription
Voluntary recruitment age: not known
Voting age: 21
Optional Protocol: not signed
Other treaties ratified (see glossary): CRC, GC AP I and II

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


National recruitment legislation and practice

There is no conscription.1 However, under the 1988 constitution, "It shall be lawful for the King to command any taxpayer to join the militia for the purpose of instruction or for parade on public occasions should he think fit and also in time of war to call out all those capable of bearing arms and to make orders and regulations for their control and provisioning" (Article 22).2 No minimum age of recruitment is specified, although the constitution also states that "Every Tongan subject of twenty-one years of age or more who being a male and not a noble pays taxes" (Article 64).

The armed forces comprise the Royal Marines, Royal Guards and a Maritime Force. An Air Wing is being planned.3 There is little information available about the military. A request by Tonga to the USA to upgrade its weapons with the purchase of 300 rifles was reportedly turned down after consultations with Australia and New Zealand.4 Tongan police officers have participated in the Australian-led International Peace Monitoring Team in the Solomon Islands since it was established by the Townsville Peace Agreement of October 2000.5

1 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,

2 Constitution, at Pacific Islands Legal Information Institute,

3 Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), World Factbook 2003, 18 December 2003,

4 Pacific Magazine, "The Pacific's Gun Problems – Why there are so many available", March 2003,

5 Philip Alpers and Conor Twyford, Small arms in the Pacific, Occasional Paper No. 8, Small Arms Survey, March 2003, (Publications); Global IDP Database, Profile of Internal Displacement: Solomon Islands, 18 March 2004,


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