Population: 11.1 million (1.9 million under 18)
Government Armed Forces: 147,100
Compulsary Recruitment Age: 19
Voluntary Recruitment Age: 18
Voting Age: 18
Optional Protocol: ratified 22 October 2003
Other Treaties: GC AP I, GC AP II, CRC, ILO 138, ILO 182, ICC

The minimum legal age for voluntary recruitment was 18.


The state of mobilization from 1976 because of the conflict in Cyprus ended on 18 December 2002.1


National recruitment legislation and practice

A new conscription law in 2005 provided for mandatory military service of 12 months for men between the ages of 19 and 45. All healthy male citizens had to register at the age of 18. Deferments were available to students in higher education, on health grounds or to those with brothers serving in the armed forces. The length of military service could be reduced for various reasons, for example for the eldest sons of large families in which the father had died, or for men who had dependent elderly parents. People exempt from conscription included fathers of more than three children or fathers whose wives had died or were incapable of work and whose children could not support themselves. The 2005 law allowed alternative civilian service to be suspended in times of war, and for those performing such service to be integrated into "unarmed military service" (Article 65).2

On ratifying the Optional Protocol in October 2003, Greece declared that the minimum age for voluntary recruitment to the armed forces was 18 years.3

A law that had not been repealed but was reportedly not enforced required all men and women aged between 18 and 60 who were not serving in the armed forces to complete service in universal defence units for up to four days a year. Certain women were exempt, such as those who were pregnant or had children under the age of 12. The functions of such units included responding to natural disasters, guarding vital installations and providing first aid. They could be provided with arms and ammunition during mobilization, for the purposes of exercises, or for specific operational missions in border areas.4

Military training and military schools

Military educational institutions included the Hellenic Military Academy, the Hellenic National Defence College and the Non-commissioned Officer Army School. Military academies enjoyed the same status as universities, and entrance was conditional on completion of high school education. Students also trained abroad at institutions of other NATO member countries.5 Both male and female students at the Greek military academies could not be married, have children, be pregnant or become pregnant during their studies. They had to be under 21 on entry,6 but there was no information available about the minimum age of entry.


At a February 2007 ministerial meeting in Paris, Greece and 58 other states endorsed the Paris Commitments to protect children from unlawful recruitment or use by armed forces or armed groups and the Paris Principles and guidelines on children associated with armed forces or armed groups. The documents reaffirmed international standards and operational principles for protecting and assisting child soldiers and followed a wide-ranging global consultation jointly sponsored by the French government and UNICEF.

1 Presidential Decree 371 of 2002, Government Gazette, FEK 320A, 18 December 2002, www.et.gr.

2 Conscription Law, No. 3421 of 2005, 13 December 2005, www.stratologia.gr/; Ministry of Defence, official conscription website, www.stratologia.gr; OMHROI.GR, "Conscription in Greece", www.omhroi.gr.

3 Declarations and reservations to the Optional Protocol, www2.ohchr.org.

4 Universal Defence Law, No. 2641 of 1998; information from Amnesty International Greece 2007; Amnesty International "Right to conscientious objection should be introduced in new Universal Defence Law", 22 June 1998.

5 Hellenic Army General Staff website, "Cadres' Training", www.army.gr.

6 NATO, Committee on Women in the NATO forces, "Frequently Asked Questions", www.nato.int.


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