UNITED KINGDOM OF GREAT BRITAIN AND NORTHERN IRELAND
12. The Committee notes that, according to the State party’s declaration under article 3 made upon ratification, the minimum age for voluntary recruitment is 16 years and regrets the fact that the State party indicates that there are no plans to change this.
13. The Committee encourages the State party to consider reviewing its position and raise the minimum age for recruitment into the armed forces to 18 years in order to promote the protection of children through an overall higher legal standard. In the meantime, the Committee recommends that, in recruiting among those persons who have not yet attained the age of18, priority is given to those who are the oldest.
14. The Committee notes the State party’s position that, “in order to compete in an
increasingly competitive employment market, the British Armed Forces need to attract young people aged 16 and above into pursuing a career in the armed forces” (State party report (para. 18). The Committee is however concerned that:
(a) Figures given by the State party show that recruits under the age of 18 represent approximately 32 per cent of the total intake of United Kingdom Regular Armed Forces;
(b) The active recruitment policy may lead to the possibility of targeting those children who come from vulnerable groups;
(c) Parents and/or guardians are only involved at the final stage of the recruitment process to give their consent.
15. The Committee recommends that the State party:
(a) Reconsider its active policy of recruitment of children into the armed forces and ensure that it does not occur in a manner which specifically targets ethnic minorities and children of low-income families;
(b) Ensure that parents are included from the outset and during the entire process of recruitment and enlistment.
16. The Committee is concerned that the right to leave the service for child recruits is limited to the first six months of service and that discretionary permission to leave may be asked by Armed Forces personnel under the age of 18 years and 3 months who have expressed clear unhappiness at their choice of career before reaching their 18th birthday.
17. The Committee recommends that the State party review the requirements for, and expand the exercise of, the “discharge as of right” for child recruits.
18. The Committee welcomes the fact that the rule providing that under-18 Army recruits were required to serve a minimum period of service up to two years longer than the minimum period for adult recruits is no longer valid. However, the Committee is concerned that the new regulations only apply to new recruits as of 1 January 2008.
19. The Committee recommends that all persons who were still below 18 on 1 January 2008 also have the right to convert their minimum term of service to four years from the first day of duty.
20. The Committee recommends that the State party, in collaboration with civil society organizations, develop and implement training programmes and campaign to promote the values of peace and respect for human rights and include the subject of peace education and human rights as a fundamental subject in the education system.