Netherlands

Netherlands

Conscription: No (since 1996).

Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict: Signed (7 Sep 2000). Ratified (24 Sep 2009).
Voluntary recruitment age: 17.
Conscientious objection recognised for professional soldiers: Yes, since 1994.
Military expenditure: 1.5% of GDP (data 2009).

Remarks:
1) Under the Military Personnel Law the current minimum age for voluntary recruitment to the armed forces was 17. Seventeen-year-old recruits were required to have the consent of a parent or guardian before enlistment, and were excluded from all active combat operations or direct involvement in hostilities. There were also restrictions on the use of weapons by 17-year-old volunteers.

Recommendations:
1) Stop the voluntary recruitment of persons aged under 18.
Notes: It is believed that the Netherlands provisions have on occasion permitted the release of “professional” soldiers. In 2007 the appeal court in Arnhem acquitted a soldier who refused to deploy to Afghanistan, after he had initially been sentenced to two months imprisonment. There was also a second case of refusal, which led to a prosecution. However, a second person has also been finally acquitted in December 2007.