Population: 9.8 million (2.0 million under 18)
Government Armed Forces: 72,900
Compulsary Recruitment Age: 18
Voluntary Recruitment Age: 18 (men), 19 (women); 17 (training); 16 (as cadets with parental consent)
Voting Age: 18
Optional Protocol: acceded 25 January 2006
Other Treaties: GC AP I, GC AP II, CRC, ILO 138, ILO 182

Under-18s entering military training institutions from the age of 13 were entitled to the social benefits of military servicemen and obliged to accept military discipline.


In 2006 the National Commission on the Rights of the Child was restructured so that it could monitor the government's implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. It had powers to request information from state bodies and other organizations, and official bodies were required to implement its decisions.1

The government declared 2007 the Year of the Child as part of a four-year program focused on children in the period 2006-10. The program included provisions on adoption and marriage, but not on military service.


National recruitment legislation and practice

Under the 1992 Law on Military Obligations and Military Service, between January and April every year boys aged 16 had to register for the draft (Article 14). Military call-up applied to all male citizens between the ages of 18 and 27 years (Article 30). Conscription was for 18 months, or 12 months for graduates of higher education. College students could defer their service until the end of their studies. Training contracts in military-technical professions were available to boys from the age of 17 (Article 26) and professional contracts in the army, navy and air force were available to men from the age of 18 and women from the age of 19 (Article 42).2

Under the Law on the Status of Military Servicemen and Servicewomen, military personnel were under an obligation to observe the constitution of Belarus, its laws and the orders of their superiors (Article 20). They were prohibited from obeying orders that would "contravene the international obligations of Belarus" (Article 3).3

Military training and military schools

Pupils at the Suvorov Military College in Minsk were entitled to the social benefits of military servicemen under the Law on the Status of Military Servicemen and Servicewomen. Their rights to holidays and medical benefits were set down by the Ministry of Defence (Articles 12 and 13). They were obliged to accept military discipline, which included "mastering military skills; being continually alert to new military techniques and technology; and looking after military property" (Article 20).

The Suvorov Military College was open to boys from the age of 13, who were often the sons of existing officers.4 It prepared cadets aged 15-16 for fast-track admission to Higher Military Education Institutes. These institutes, intended for students aged 17-21, trained officers with a specialist profile for each armed service or combat arm. Around 60 per cent of their curriculum was devoted to military service and weaponry. Successful students graduated with a university diploma and the rank of junior lieutenant.

Outside Minsk, the government could set up local branch institutions that were designed to give boys a military grounding and accepted pupils from the age of seven years through to 16 (Law on the Status of Military Servicemen and Servicewomen, Article 27).


International standards

Belarus acceded to the Optional Protocol in January 2006. Its declaration stated that the age for voluntary recruitment was 18, with the exception of those who, with parental consent, entered a military academy as a cadet at 17 or during the year they turned 17.5

1 Presidential Decree, No. 675, 16 November 2006, National Legal Internet Portal of the Republic of Belarus, http://pravo.by.

2 Law on Military Obligations and Military Service, No. 2/1247 of 1992, most recently amended by Law No. 50-Z19, July 2006, at www.mod.mil.by/zakonzak.html.

3 Law on the Status of Military Servicemen and Servicewomen, No. 1939-XII of 13 November 1992, at www.mod.mil.by/zakonzak.html.

4 Ministry of Defence, www.mod.mil.by/vv/msvu1.html.

5 Declaration on accession to the Optional Protocol, www2.ohchr.org.


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