Optional Protocol:
Acceded September 2003
Compulsory recruitment age:
No conscription in law
Voluntary recruitment age:

Children continue to be recruited and used by both armed forces and armed groups in Afghanistan, a country destabilised by years of conflict. The UN Secretary-General’s 2015 annual report documented this ongoing abuse, with the Afghan National Police, the Afghan Local Police and three armed groups having consistently been listed as parties which recruit and use children since 2010.

Recruitment and use of children in Afghanistan is triggered by a complex set of reasons including duty to the family, patriotism, honour and economic difficulties. Inadequate age verification procedures, low levels of birth registration and an easy ability to falsify identify documents facilitate recruitment into armed forces.

Children have been both formally and informally recruited into fighting forces. Some children have been used by the Afghan National Police as “tea boys” and guards at check points. Others have been recruited by the Taliban to carry out suicide attacks and plant improvised explosive devices. Children have also been used as spies, in active combat and for sexual purposes. Compounding this abuse, some children suspected of association with armed groups have been unlawfully detained on national security related charges and experienced ill treatment or torture.

In 2011, the Afghan government signed an Action Plan with the UN, committing to protect children and prevent their recruitment and use. Progress has been made, including a planned national birth registration strategy, an awareness raising campaign on the risks of recruitment in vulnerable communities and a presidential decree criminalising the recruitment and use of children into state security forces. However, serious concerns remain.

Our work in Afghanistan aims to:

  • Monitor and assess implementation of the Action Plan and its ‘Roadmap Towards Compliance’
  • Promote action by the Afghanistan government and other duty bearers on full implementation of the Action Plan
  • Increase the capacity of national human rights organisations to monitor, address and respond to child soldier issues
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Further Reading:

Displayed below are Reports and News Items from our archive relating to Afghanistan.