Why 18 Matters

Why 18 Matters examines recruitment and training practices of economically-developed states, drawing on over 200 academic and official sources and the testimony of recruits. It shows how some of the world’s most economically-developed nations capitalise on the social, economic and psychological vulnerabilities of disadvantaged adolescents to meet recruiting targets. In so doing, the authors claim, these states may be violating their commitments under international law.

The report explains that international law allows state armed forces to enlist and train, but not deploy, children aged 16 or 17, provided their best interests are safeguarded throughout. It shows, however, that applicants and their parents are inadequately informed about the risks and obligations of a military career. The coercive nature of military training violates the minimum safeguards required under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and its Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict.

Read the full report here and Executive Summary