Arab Republic of Egypt

Covers the period from April 2001 to March 2004.

Population: 70.5 million (29.7 million under 18)
Government armed forces: 450,000
Compulsory recruitment age: 18
Voluntary recruitment age: 16 (18 for military training or combat operations)
Voting age: 18
Optional Protocol: not signed
Other treaties ratified (see glossary): CRC, GC AP I and II, ILO 138, ILO 182; ACRWC

There were reports of 16 year olds being recruited by the armed forces for support tasks that did not involve combat or military training.


The authorities continued to arrest political opponents and suspected members of armed opposition groups, particularly after the 11 September 2001 attacks in the USA. Inside Egypt, there have been no attacks by armed groups on the security forces, politicians, intellectuals or tourists since 1997. One armed group, al-Jihad al-Islami (Islamic Jihad), was accused of links with al-Qaeda and of involvement in bomb attacks outside Egypt in Pakistan and the USA. In 2002 several leaders of al-Gama'a al-Islamiya (Islamic Group) which halted armed operations in 1997, publicly condemned the use of violence and apologized to victims of its attacks.1


National recruitment legislation and practice

The 1980 constitution states that "Defence of the homeland and its territory is a sacred duty and conscription is compulsory" (Article 58). Under the 1980 Military and National Service Act, men between 18 and 30 years of age are liable for military service for a term of three years. The minimum age for conscription is 18 and graduates of higher education serve for a period of 18 months.2 A number of children aged between 16 and 18 were allowed to volunteer for administrative or maintenance work in the armed forces but did not engage in any forms of military training or combat.3

Military training and military schools

Military training for recent secondary school graduates was provided at the Military Academy, Heliopolis, Cairo; the Air Defence College, Alexandria; the Egyptian Naval College, Alexandria; the Military Technical College, Cairo; 5 "Egypt approves child rights charter, rejects some the Egyptian Air Academy, Belbais; and the Armed Forces Technical Institute.4

Other developments

International standards

In May 2001 parliament unanimously approved most provisions of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, subject to Islamic law and Egyptian customs and traditions. It did not approve provisions that allowed adoption, set 18 as the minimum age for girls to marry, and outlawed death sentences on pregnant and nursing women.5 Egypt had ratified the Charter on 9 May 2001.6

Parliament also approved most of the African Common Position, agreed at the Pan-African Forum for Children in Cairo in May 2001. The document included provisions to stop children, defined as anyone under the age of 18, being used as soldiers and to protect former child soldiers. Egypt presented the Common Position to the Special Session of the UN General Assembly on Children on 8 May 2002.7

Egypt's representative told the UN General Assembly in October 2002 that it had acceded to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its two Optional Protocols.8 However, in early 2004, Egypt was not included in the official list of states that had signed the Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict.

In January 2003 a campaign to promote children's rights at times of war, including the right not to be enlisted into the armed forces before the age of 15, was launched at a youth football tournament in Cairo. The Meridian Cup was hosted by Egypt under a partnership agreement between the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).9

During a UN Security Council session on Children and Armed Conflict in January 2004, Egypt's Permanent Representative to the UN called for the role of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for children and armed conflict to be strengthened. This would allow joint advocacy with UNICEF on behalf of children in conflict and a greater role for the Special Representative in UN peacekeeping missions around the world.10

1 Amnesty International Report 2003,

2 Constitution,

3 Declarations and reservations to the Optional Protocol,

4 Communication from Vietnamese embassy in the United Kingdom (UK), 26 February 2004.

5 Information from Amnesty International, April 2004.

6 Law on Amendments and Supplements to a Number of Articles of the Law on Military Service Duty, 22 June 1994,

7 Declarations and reservations, op. cit.

8 Law on Amendments and Supplements, op. cit.

9 Communication from Vietnamese embassy, op. cit.

10 Periodic report of Viet Nam to UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Doc. CRC/C/65/Add.20, 5 July 2002,


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