France

France

Conscription: No (since 2001).

Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict: Signed (6 Sep 2000). Ratified (5 Feb 2003).
Voluntary recruitment age: 17.
Conscientious objection recognised for professional soldiers: No.
Military expenditure: 2.5% of GDP (data 2009).

Remarks:
1) Article 20(4) of the Law No. 2205-207 on the General Status of Servicemen, which entered into force on 1 July 2005, stated that no one could become part of the armed forces if not “at least 17 years of age or 16 years of age in order to receive general or vocational training as a volunteer in the armed forces or as a pupil in a military school”. Foreign Legion recruits had to be aged between 17 and 40. Selected candidates signed a five-year unconditional contract to serve anywhere in the world. They were trained for four months at the Fourth Foreign Regiment in Castelnaudary before being posted. Under-18s had to have the consent of their “legal representatives” to enlist. However, Article 83 of the Law No. 2205-207 offered no legal guarantee regarding the verification of age: “the military authorities designated by the Ministry of Defence can, in the absence of the necessary supporting documents, accept the enlistment [of a candidate]”.
2) Military schools in France included four for the army and one for the navy. Students were admitted to the air force school, the Ecole d’Enseignement Technique de l’Armée de l’Air de Saintes, from the age of 16. There was also a Polytechnic School. Under Law No. 70-631 of July 1970, as amended by Law 94-577 of July 1994, candidates for the Polytechnic School had to be 17 to sit admission examinations and could enter the school during the year in which they turned 18.
3) There is no right to conscientious objection for professional soldiers.
4) Conscription has been replaced by a compulsory one day “rendez-vous citoyen” (national day of preparation for national defence). All young men and women between the ages of 16 and 18 are obliged to participate in this day. On this day, people have civil status and do not have to bear arms or wear a uniform or be subjected to military discipline. Participation in the “rendez-vous citoyen” is a necessary condition for taking part in final examinations or obtaining a diploma in state universities.

Recommendations:
1) Stop the voluntary recruitment of persons aged under 18.
2) Stop military training and abolish military schools for persons aged under 18.
3) Recognise the right to conscientious objection for professional soldiers.
4) Recognise the right to conscientious objection for the “rendez-vous citoyen”. Participation in the “rendez-vous citoyen” should not be a necessary condition for taking part in final examinations or obtaining a diploma in state universities.