Conscription: No (since 2007).
Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict: Signed (1 Feb 2002). Ratified (19 Dec 2005).
Voluntary recruitment age: 18.
Conscientious objection recognised for professional soldiers: No.
Military expenditure: 1.4% of GDP (data 2009).
The Youth Guard was a voluntary special-interest organization set up and led by the Ministry of Defence. Apart from instilling physical fitness and patriotism, its purpose was to excite young people’s interest in military service, and to cultivate motivated personnel for the all-volunteer military service. Membership was open to citizens with a good command of the Latvian language, and training was arranged for two age groups. Juniors, aged 12–15, learned the basics of military training and about the history, structure and functions of the armed forces. Their program included militarized competitions and hiking. A senior group, aged 16–18, underwent a basic course in national defence, similar to the one followed by privates in the army. This included lessons in weaponry and shooting doctrine, drill, tactics, first aid and topography, and training in national security policy and integration in NATO. The course was designed to last three years and awarded an academic diploma that would ensure fast-track entry into the military professions. The Ministry of Defence also ran Youth Guard courses as a voluntary option in the civilian schools’ curriculum, for those eligible to take it and with the agreement of specific institutions. Specially trained instructors were provided by the Ministry.
There is no right to conscientious objection for professional soldiers.
1)Stop military training and abolish military schools for persons aged under 18.
2)Recognise the right to conscientious objection for professional soldiers.