Population: 835,000 (205,000 under 18)
Government Armed Forces: 10,000
Compulsary Recruitment Age: 18
Voluntary Recruitment Age: 17 (not confirmed)
Voting Age: 18
Optional Protocol: not signed
Other Treaties: GC AP I, GC AP II, CRC, ILO 138, ILO 182, ICC

The minimum voluntary recruitment age was believed to be 17, but it was not known whether under-18s were serving in the armed forces.


Cyprus had been divided since 1974. The northern part, named the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, remained occupied by Turkish armed forces and was not recognized internationally as a separate state from the Republic of Cyprus, the southern part. A buffer zone patrolled by the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) separated the two parts. In April 2004 Greek and Turkish Cypriots took part in separate simultaneous referendums on whether Cyprus should be reunited when it joined the European Union (EU) on the basis of a power-sharing agreement brokered by the UN. A majority of Turkish Cypriots (65 per cent) voted yes, but Greek Cypriots rejected the settlement by a three-to-one majority (76 per cent). As a result, Cyprus remained divided when it joined the EU on 1 May 2004. The whole island was by law an EU member state, but the body of laws that states had to adopt to join the EU was suspended in the north.1


National recruitment legislation and practice

The constitution provided for conscription, stating that "No person shall be required to perform forced or compulsory labour", but that this should not include "any service of a military character if imposed or, in case of conscientious objectors, subject to their recognition by a law, service exacted instead of compulsory military service" (Article 10).

Conscription was regulated by the National Guard Law, No. 20, of 1964. All male citizens on completion of their eighteenth year and up to the age of 50 were liable on 1 January each year for national service of 25 months' duration. Among those exempted from conscription were members of the clergy; the only or eldest son of a family whose father or brother died or went missing during national service or during or after the 1974 Turkish invasion; and members of the Maronite, Armenian and Latin (Roman Catholic) communities. Military service could be reduced in a number of cases, including to 13 months for orphans and the eldest sons of large families and to 21 months for conscripts with only one living parent. Women could enlist as volunteers on a contract for an initial duration of three years that could be renewed for subsequent three-year periods.2

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in 2003 noted that it was possible to volunteer for military service from the age of 17 in 2003, and expressed concern that under-18s could be deployed, since no distinction was made between the ages for recruitment and for deployment. The Committee encouraged Cyprus to clarify the minimum age for voluntary recruitment and to ensure that no one under 18 was deployed as a combatant to armed conflicts.3

Military training and military schools

No information was available on military training and schools. However, male and female graduates of military schools in Greece could become officers of the National Guard.4


At a February 2007 ministerial meeting in Paris, Cyprus 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.

Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus:

Population: 201,0005
Government armed forces: not known
Compulsory recruitment age: 19
Voluntary recruitment age: 17
Voting age: 18
Treaties ratified: not applicable

The minimum voluntary recruitment age was 17, but it was not known whether under-18s were serving in the armed forces.


National recruitment legislation and practice

Under the constitution, all citizens were liable for military service: "National service in the armed forces shall be the right and sacred duty of every citizen" (Article 74).6

The legal basis for conscription was the Military Service Law, No. 59, of 2000. All citizens were liable for compulsory military service from the age of 19. The length of service ranged from 8 to 15 months. Those considered Turkish Cypriot citizens because of their parents' origin but who resided abroad could qualify for shorter terms. Recruits planning to go into university education could defer or bring forward their service.7 The minimum age for voluntary recruitment was 17, provided that the recruit had parental consent (Article 18).

Military training and military schools

There were no military schools.8

1 UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Country Profile, www.fco.gov.uk.

2 Republic of Cyprus Press and Information Office, "Cyprus National Guard", 2005, at CyprusNet, www.cyprusnet.com.

3 UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Consideration of report submitted by Cyprus, Concluding observations, UN Doc. CRC/C/15/Add.205, 2 July 2003.

4 Republic of Cyprus Press and Information Office, "Cyprus National Guard", 2005.

5 North Cyprus Online, Demographic Information, http://www.northcyprusonline.com.

6 The Constitution of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, www.cypnet.com.

7 Guvenlik Kuvvetleri Komutanligi, "Obligation of military service", www.mucahit.net.

8 Information from Office of the Representative of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, London, 2004.


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