Population: 5.5 million (2.5 million under 18)
Government Armed Forces: 14,000
Compulsary Recruitment Age: no conscription
Voluntary Recruitment Age: 18
Voting Age: 16
Optional Protocol: acceded 17 March 2005
Other Treaties: GC AP I, GC AP II, CRC, ILO 138, ILO 182

There were no reports of under-18s in the armed forces.


Public perceptions about increased insecurity and the resulting stigmatization of children and young people seemed unrelated to actual crime statistics. It was estimated that only eight per cent of criminal suspects were under 18.1 In September 2005 the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child recommended that the government carry out a full study on the scope, nature and causes of youth gangs in order to develop a comprehensive policy for their prevention and reduction.2


National recruitment legislation and practice

Under the constitution military service was not compulsory and all forced recruitment to the armed forces or police was prohibited.3 The minimum age for participation in hostilities was 18.4 Those volunteering for military service had to be over 18 and have parental authorization certified by a lawyer.5 They signed up to an annual, renewable contract.6

Under the 1998 Code on Children and Young Persons (Chapter II) it was illegal to incite children or young people to participate in armed conflicts or armed activities of any kind. The Code also provided special protection for children and young people who had taken refuge in Nicaragua or were victims of armed conflicts.7

Military training and military schools

Military schools formed part of the national education system and qualifications obtained were equivalent to civilian educational qualifications.8

Soldiers received training at the Basic Instruction National School, and non-commissioned officers at the Sergeants' National School. Master's degree courses were offered at the General Benjamín Zeledón Rodriguez Staff Superior School. Students from the General José Dolores Estrada Vado Superior Centre of Military Studies were considered to be still in training on joining the armed forces.9 Graduates obtained a degree in tactical command, engineering, artillery or medicine, and a guaranteed post in the armed forces for 30 years.10


International standards

Nicaragua acceded to the Optional Protocol in March 2005. Its declaration stated that the minimum age for entry to the armed forces was 18, and that the requirement for applicants for military service to submit legally certified parental authorization was in order to prevent recruitment by force or coercion.11

1 Federación Coordinadora Nicaragüense de ONGs que trabajan con la Niñez y la Adolescencia (CODENI), III Complementary Report on Compliance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child, 16 May 2005, www.crin.org.

2 UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Consideration of third periodic report submitted by Nicaragua, Concluding observations, UN Doc. CRC/C/15/Add.265, 21 September 2005.

3 Constitución Política de la República de Nicaragua, Artículo 96, www.asamblea.gob.ni.

4 Third periodic report of Nicaragua to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Doc. CRC/C/125/Add.3, 15 October 2004.

5 "Tatuados no pueden ser oficiales del Ejército", El Nuevo Diario, 13 October 2006, www.elnuevodiario.com.ni; Declaration of Nicaragua on acceding to the Optional Protocol, 17 March 2005, www2.ohchr.org.

6 Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales (FLACSO), Programa Seguridad y Ciudadanía, Reporte del Sector Seguridad en América Latina y el Caribe, Informe Nacional: Nicaragua, August 2006, www.flacso.cl.

7 Third periodic report, above note 4.

8 FLACSO, above note 6.

9 Ministerio de Defensa, Libro de la Defensa Nacional de Nicaragua, www.midef.gob.ni.

10 "Hacer carrera militar no es para cualquiera", La Prensa, 18 July 2005.

11 Declaration, above note 5.


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