Belgium

Belgium

Conscription: No (since 1995).

Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict: Signed (6 Sep 2000). Ratified (6 May 2002).
Compulsory recruitment age: 17 (in wartime).
Voluntary recruitment age: 18.
Conscientious objection recognised for professional soldiers: No.
Military expenditure: 1.2% of GDP (data 2009).

Remarks:
1) Conscription into the recruitment reserve is permitted at 17 in wartime. In June 2006 the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child called on the government to “repeal all laws that allow the recruitment of persons under the age of 18 into the armed forces in time of war”.
2) Individuals who applied successfully to become career non-commissioned officers in the armed forces could from the age of 16 complete their secondary education in a non-commissioned officers’ college. Those who applied successfully to become a career officer candidate and wished to attend the Royal Military Academy had first to have completed their secondary education and would generally be 17 or 18 years of age on entering the academy, where courses were at university level. Although there was no specific legislation in place concerning the military status of students under 18 in these institutions (including their status in a time of armed conflict), the government emphasized that, in accordance with a March 2003 act concerning military recruitment, no such mobilization would be possible for those who had not already completed their secondary education. According to the government, “the question of protecting children in armed conflicts is addressed in the training given to all military personnel. It is brought to the attention of all categories of personnel on several occasions during basic and in-service training courses on the law of armed conflict.”
3) There is no right to conscientious objection for professional soldiers.

Recommendations:
1) Stop the compulsory recruitment of persons aged under 18 in wartime.
2) Stop military training and abolish military schools for persons aged under 18.
3) Recognise the right to conscientious objection for professional soldiers.