Population: 16.3 million (4.9 million under 18)
Government Armed Forces: 75,700
Compulsary Recruitment Age: 18
Voluntary Recruitment Age: 18 (see text)
Voting Age: 18
Optional Protocol: 31 July 2003
Other Treaties: GC AP I, GC AP II, CRC, ILO 138, ILO 182

There was no information about under-18s in the armed forces.


National recruitment legislation and practice

Military recruitment was transformed following the death in May 2005 of 44 conscripts during a compulsory training exercise in sub-zero temperatures in the Andes mountains.1 The victims, some of whom were from the indigenous Mapuche community, had received only a few weeks' military training.2 Demands for reform focused on the recruitment system, which was widely seen as targeted at the poorest sectors of the population. In practice only 15-20 per cent of those liable each year did active service.3

A new law came into effect in September 2005 to modernize recruitment and mobilization. Under the new law all citizens were automatically registered for compulsory military service at the age of 18. Citizens aged 18-45 had to fulfil their military obligations, either through two years' compulsory military service (for men) or (for men and women) through voluntary military service or being available for mass mobilization. Quotas were first filled by volunteers and the remainder chosen by lottery. Those declared able to do military service but who delayed their enlistment could be called up for an additional year. The law also established a channel for complaints of ill-treatment or abuse.4

In 2007, for the first time since compulsory military service was introduced in Chile over a century earlier, all quotas were filled by the selection of 15,000 candidates from among 40,000 volunteers.5

Students could delay military service until they completed their studies, when they could choose to serve in the regular forces for a year or in an armed forces professional institution for a total of 180 days, or to follow a Military Instruction Special Course (Curso Especial de Instrucción Militar) for 150 days.6

The 2005 law also increased the minimum age for voluntary recruitment from 17 to 18. Individuals who wanted to bring forward their registration for military service could do so, but could only undertake active service when they were at least 18. This effectively prevented under-18s from participating in hostilities. By law the minimum age of recruitment could not be lowered even in exceptional circumstances such as a state of emergency.7

Women aged 18-24 could volunteer to do military service.8 There were around 1,000 female volunteers in the army, and they constituted about 15 per cent of the air force.9

Military training and military schools

Each branch of the armed forces had its own training schools. Officer schools offered four years of military, legal, economic, scientific and moral training, including human rights education. Non-commissioned officers took a two-year course to obtain a technical diploma.10

Candidates to military schools offering basic training were required to have completed secondary education. Some schools stipulated also that candidates had to be 18. Courses were for between two and five years.11 Students at military schools were considered to be on active service.12

1 "Tragedia militar podría cambiar conscripción obligatoria en Chile", Terra, 24 May 2005, www.terra.com/noticias; "Families angry at deaths in Andes", Guardian (UK), 21 May 2005, www.guardian.co.uk.

2 "El derecho a decir No", Quechua Network, 25 May 2005, www.quechuanetwork.org.

3 David Álvarez Veloso, Servicio Militar en Chile: un debate obligatorio, Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales (FLACSO)-Chile, July 2006, www.flacso.cl.

4 Ley moderniza el servicio militar obligatorio, No. 20.045 of 2005, Biblioteca del Congreso Nacional de Chile, www.bcn.cl.

5 "Por primera vez en 107 años habrá sólo voluntarios realizando la milicia en las Fuerzas Armadas chilenas", Terra, 3 April 2007, http://actualidad.terra.es/articulo/por_fuerzas_armadas_1496070.htm.

6 Dirección General de Movilización Nacional, Servicio militar, www.dgmn.cl, No voluntarios sorteados.

7 Initial report of Chile to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child on implementation of the Optional Protocol, UN Doc. CRC/C/OPAC/CHL/1, 6 July 2007.

8 Dirección General de Movilización Nacional, Servicio militar, above note 6, Servicio militar femenino.

9 Ministerio de Defensa Nacional, Participación de las mujeres en las fuerzas armadas, March 2005, www.defensa.cl.

10 FLACSO, Programa Seguridad y Ciudadanía, Reporte del Sector Seguridad en América Latina y el Caribe, Informe Nacional: Chile, August 2006, www.flacso.cl.

11 Initial report, above note 7.

12 Ley moderniza el servicio militar obligatorio, ab.


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