Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict: Signed (24 Sep 2003). Not ratified.
Compulsory recruitment age: 18 (but 17-year-olds could be liable for call-up).
Voluntary recruitment age: 18, but under-18s could volunteer for the National Defence League which provided weapons training.
Duration of compulsory military service: 8-12 months (depending on the education and position provided by the Defence Forces to the conscript; mostly 8 months).
Conscientious objection to military service recognised for conscripts: Yes, since 1991.
Duration of civilian service: 8-12 months (depending on the educational background).
Conscientious objection recognised for professional soldiers: No.
Military expenditure: 2.3% of GDP (data 2009).
1) The Optional Protocol is not ratified.
2) 17-year-olds could be liable for call-up but active combat duties were reserved for those aged 18 and over. The Defence Force Services Act required all male Estonian citizens to be “liable” for service in the Defence Forces from the age of 16 to 60, during which time they were liable to be registered and conscripted, or to serve in the reserve (Article 3). Boys eligible for the draft had to register at the age of 16, until call-up or release from mandatory military service (Article 7). Between the ages of 18 and 27 they were liable to conscription (Article 46). In practice, any boy aged 17 on 15 September was liable to call-up the following year, even if he had not reached the age of 18.
3) Under-18s could volunteer for the National Defence League which provided weapons training.
4) There is no right to conscientious objection for serving conscripts, reservists and professional soldiers.
5) The civilian service is administered by the Ministry of Defence. Few applications for civilian service have been approved during the last few years (11 of 64 in 2007, 14 of 68 in 2008, 32 of 53 in 2009) while there is lack of clear grounds for accepting or rejecting an application for civilian service.
1) Ratify the Optional Protocol.
2) Stop the call-up of persons aged under 18.
3) Stop the voluntary recruitment of persons aged under 18.
4) Recognise the right to conscientious objection for serving conscripts, reservists and professional soldiers.
5) Make a genuinely civilian service (not under the Ministry of Defence) without restrictions on accessing it.