Population: 5.4 million (1.2 million under 18)
Government Armed Forces: 21,700
Compulsary Recruitment Age: 18
Voluntary Recruitment Age: 18
Voting Age: 18
Optional Protocol: ratified 27 August 2002
Other Treaties: GC AP I, GC AP II, CRC, ILO 138, ILO 182, ICC
There were no reports of under-18s in the armed forces.
National recruitment legislation and practice
The obligation to perform military service was set out in Article 81 of the 1953 constitution and the 1980 National Service Act.1 According to the Danish Defence Personnel Organization, men and women between the ages of 18 and 30 were liable for conscription.2 The 1998 Ministry of Defence Order No. 1083 stipulated that no one under the age of 18 could be conscripted or could volunteer for service in the armed forces. This minimum age of 18 also applied to joining the volunteer Home Guard, in keeping with the provisions of the 2004 Home Guard Act.3 The 1987 Civilian Service Act (amended in 1992 and 1998) provided for an alternative service for conscientious objectors – with the length of alternative service matching that of military service.4
In its November 2005 Concluding Observations on Denmark's initial report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child concerning implementation of the Optional Protocol, the Committee expressed concern that the government had failed to follow reporting guidelines and had not included relevant legislation with its submission. The report also failed to include information regarding assistance for the physical and psychological recovery of former child soldiers and dissemination of the Optional Protocol and its incorporation into training programs for relevant professionals.5
At a February 2007 ministerial meeting in Paris, Denmark 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 Quaker Council for European Affairs, The Right to Conscientious Objection to Military Service in Europe: A Review of the Current Situation, April 2005.
2 Information from the Danish Defence Personnel Organization, October 2007.
3 Initial report of Denmark to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child on the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, UN Doc. CRC/C/OPAC/DNK/1, 21 April 2005.
4 Right to Conscientious Objection, above note 1.
5 Committee on the Rights of the Child, Consideration of initial report submitted by Denmark on implementation of the Optional Protocol, Concluding observations, UN Doc. CRC/C/OPAC/DNK/Co/1, 24 November 2005.