Covers the period from April 2001 to March 2004.

Population: 5.2 million (1.2 million under 18)
Government armed forces: 17,500
Compulsory recruitment age: 18
Voluntary recruitment age: 18
Voting age: 18
Optional Protocol: not signed
Other treaties ratified (see glossary): CRC, GC AP I and II, ICC, ILO 138, ILO 182

Military departments in secondary schools are integrated into the structure of the armed forces. In 2003 the death of a 16 year old and injury of five others during a compulsory military training class was reported.


The Public Defender (Ombudsman) highlighted concern over reports of torture and ill-treatment in police custody and attacks on members of minority faiths in reports issued in 2002 and 2003. Russian warplanes reportedly bombed the Pankisi Gorge, near the Chechen border, where Russia alleged that Chechen fighters were sheltering. Under Russian pressure the Georgian government carried out operations in 2002 to clear Chechen fighters from the gorge. In 2002 US officials called on Georgia to rid the area of "Afghan militants" and suspected members of al-Qaeda. In February 2002 it was announced that US troops would be deployed in Georgia to provide training and equipment.1

Elections held in late 2003 were judged by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) to have fallen short of international standards. The flawed elections triggered mass demonstrations leading to the resignation of President Eduard Shevardnadze. One of the demonstration's leaders, Mikhail Saakashvili, was elected president in January 2004. He vowed to establish central government control over the autonomous republic of Ajaria and the unrecognized breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.2 In March 2004 President Saakashvili attempted to enter the autonomous republic of Ajaria, but was blocked by militiamen loyal to its leader, Aslan Abashidze. The authorities in Ajaria reportedly distributed weapons to the civilian population.3


National recruitment legislation and practice

Under the constitution, "The defence of the country and the fulfilment of military duties is obligatory for every eligible citizen" (Article 101).4 Men between the ages of 18 and 27 are eligible for the draft under the 1997 Law on Military Service and Duties. Amendments to the law were proposed in mid-2002 relating to military training in universities. Conscription takes place twice a year and those drafted must serve for 18 months.5 The minimum age for voluntary enlistment in the armed forces and participation in military actions is 18 years.6

In October 2003 the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child recommended Georgia to ratify the Optional Protocol.7

Military training and military schools

Many high schools in Georgia have military departments, which oversee "military preparedness" courses as part of the national curriculum for pupils from grades 9 to 11, aged 14 to 17. The costs involved in weapons training for children preclude full implementation of the program.8 One day a year is reportedly devoted to "mass defence activities".9

Military departments in schools are integrated into the structure of the armed forces.10 Graduates are awarded the rank of sergeant in the reserve forces. Those who go on to the Joint Military Academy are promoted to the rank of junior lieutenant after one year.11 Students may enter the Academy upon the completion of secondary education, which generally occurs at 17 years of age.12 In late 2003 a 16-year-old boy died and five others were injured during a compulsory military training class in Tbilisi when a live hand grenade exploded. An official said dummy grenades were supposed to be used for school training.13 In May 2000, in the Mtskheta-Mtianeti region, a three-day Boy Scout military exercise was carried out under the auspices of a commando unit.14

Three military schools similar to Russia's Suvorov schools, which admit children in their early teens, reportedly operate in Georgia.15 There are also three Higher Military Schools, the Police Academy, the Joint Military Academy and the Security Ministry's Academy. In line with other Georgian higher educational institutions, pupils are permitted entry on completing secondary education, which generally occurs at 17 years of age.16

Abkhazia and South Ossetia

Official details of the armed forces in the unrecognized self-proclaimed republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia were not available, and it was not possible to determine whether they contained child soldiers.

There was intermittent skirmishing between the armed forces of Georgia and Abkhazia.17 Abkhazia strictly enforces conscription and its troops reportedly number about 5,000.18 However, in December 2003 the Defence Minister of Abkhazia declared that its armed forces would become fully professional under a reform program to be completed by 2007.19

The authorities in South Ossetia maintained armed forces numbering around 6,000, which they said were fully professional.20

Disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR)

The peace processes in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, following conflicts which took place in the early and mid-1990s, continued, with the UN Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG), the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe and Russia playing mediating roles. In its April 2003 report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Georgia highlighted the provision of summer camps and holidays abroad among measures to rehabilitate children affected by armed conflict. Information provided on such children in the autonomous and breakaway regions was limited.21 Psychosocial rehabilitation programs in South Ossetia were reported to be poor, with few projects for vulnerable children.22

1 Amnesty International Reports 2002, 2003 and 2004,

2 Amnesty International Reports 2002, 2003 and 2004.

3 The Times (London), 15 March 2004.

4 Constitution, (Legal acts).

5 Giorgi Kandelaki, Reserve officer training system in Georgia serves as indicator of military corruption, 23 July 2002,; Information from Human Rights Information and Documentation Centre, Georgia, March 2004; Information from Amnesty International, June 2004.

6 Initial report of Georgia to UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Doc. CRC/C/41/Add.4/Rev.1, 6 October 1998,

7 UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Concluding observations: Georgia, UN Doc. CRC/C/15/Add.222, 27 October 2003.

8 Confidential source, 2004.

9 International Campaign to Ban Landmines, Landmine Monitor Report 2003, Georgia,

10 Communication with Emil Adelkhanov, Caucasian Institute for Peace, Democracy and Development, Tbilisi, 23 June 2004.

11 Army and Society in Georgia, March-April 2001 and September-October 2000, Centre for Civil-Military Relations and Security Studies, Caucasus Institute for Peace, Democracy and Development (CIPDD), (Research and publications, Periodicals).

12 Emil Adelkhanov, op. cit.

13 Civil Georgia, One Child Dies in a Hand-Grenade Explosion at School, 9 December 2003,

14 Army and Society in Georgia, op. cit., May 2000.

15 Confidential source, 2004.

16 Emil Adelkhanov, op. cit.

17 ITAR-TASS News Agency, 27 January 2004.

18 War Resisters International, "Impressions from a journey through the South Caucasus", Peace News, September-November 2003,; International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), Armed Conflict Database, Georgia (Abkhazia) (subscribers only).

19 Interfax-Military News Agency, 29 December 2003.

20 Interfax, 9 August 2003.

21 Second periodic report of Georgia to UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Doc. CRC/C/104/Add. 1, April 2003.

22 UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Georgia: South Ossetia Briefing Note, January 2004,


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