10-Point Checklist: Preventing State Use of Child Soldiers

Child Soldiers International developed the 10-Point Checklist to assist in assessing where and why children are at risk of use in hostilities in armed forces for which states are responsible and to identify what measures can be taken to reduce these risks.

The 10-Point Checklist is based around ten core questions covering three areas of responsibility covered by Child Soldiers International's report Louder Than Words: An agenda for action to end state use of child soldiers

1. Child soldier use by state armed forces

  • Are children prohibited in law from participating in hostilities?
  • Has 18 years been established in law as the minimum age for compulsory and voluntary recruitment?
  • Does every child have independently verifiable proof of age?
  • Are there effective processes to verify the age of new recruits?
  • Are military recruitment processes subject to independent monitoring and oversight?
  • Is unlawful child recruitment and use criminalised in national law?
  • Does the criminal justice system have the capacity to effectively investigate and prosecute allegations of unlawful recruitment and use?

2. Child soldier use by state-allied armed groups

  • Are legal and practical safeguards in place to prevent recruitment and use ofchildren by any armed groups allied to the state?

3. Arms transfers and security sector reform assistance

  • Are measures in place to ensure that international arms transfers and other forms of military assistance do not contribute to or facilitate the unlawful recruitment and use of children as soldiers in recipient states?
  • Are safeguards set out in this checklist reflected in national security sector reform (SSR) programs and in SSR assistance programs?


Recommendations following each question reflect the measures needed to protect children from recruitment and use highlighted in this report and draw on international human rights law and standards, in particular the Optional Protocol.


Download the report Summary and the 10-Point Checklist in English, FrenchArabic or Spanish