Forces: January 16, 2000


A UN working group is trying to draft a new treaty that would ban anyone under 18 years of age from serving with a military or guerrilla force. The US, noting that more than 70 nations (including the US) allow 17-year-olds to volunteer with parental consent, has proposed that 18 be the limit for conscripts in regular military forces or anyone in a guerrilla or insurgent groups, while regular military units would be able to accept volunteers who were 17. No one has come up with a specific plan to enforce the age limit on rebel or guerrilla forces. Under a previous international treaty guaranteeing the rights of children, those under 15 are prohibited from taking part in hostilities. --Stephen V Cole


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