Bolivia - The government of Bolivia has acknowledged that children as young as 14 may have been forcibly conscripted into the armed forces during recruitment sweeps. About 40% of the Bolivian army is believed to be under the age of 18, with half of those below the age of 16.
Colombia - Between 11 000 and 14 000 children are estimated to be involved with left-wing guerrilla groups and right-wing paramilitaries in Colombia. According to Human Rights Watch, "Approximately 80 percent of child combatants in Colombia belong to one of the two left-wing guerrilla groups, the FARC or ELN. The remainder fights in paramilitary ranks."
Cuba - Members from both sexes are conscripted at age 17 to serve two years in the armed forces (mainly the paramilitary Youth Labor Army).
Haiti - In Haiti an unknown number of children participate in various loosely-organized armed groups that are engaged in political violence.
Canada - In Canada, people may join the reserve component of the Canadian Forces at age 16 with parental permission, and the regular component at 17 years of age. They may not volunteer for a tour of duty until reaching age 18.
United States - In the United States 17-year-olds may join the armed forces, but may not be deployed in combat situations. The United States military is based on voluntary recruitment, though minors also must have parental permission to enlist (or permission from a legal guardian in the absence of parents). Males under eighteen years of age are not draft eligible, and females are not eligible for conscription at any age. The United States military requires all soldiers to possess a high school diploma or equivalent; this requirement may be waived for young soldiers for up to 180 days from the date of enlistment and during wartime. The United States has recently come under fire for the detention and trial of child soldiers and non-combatant minors captured during military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. Omar Khadr, a 15 year old Canadian citizen, arrested in Afghanistan in 2002, and held at Guantanamo for the past five years was to have been one of the first detainees to be charged before a military commission. Human Rights Watch charges that, "the US government incarcerated him with adults, reportedly subjected him to abusive interrogations, failed to provide him any educational opportunities, and denied him any direct contact with his family." In 2004, three Afghan children were released from Guantanamo, believed to be between the ages of 13 and 15 at the time of their capture, to rehabilitation programs operated by UNICEF in Afghanistan.
Chechnya - According to the UN report, the Chechen separatist forces included a large number of children, some as young as 11 (including females), during the First Chechen War: "Child soldiers in Chechnya were reportedly assigned the same tasks as adult combatants, and served on the front lines soon after joining the armed forces." In 2004 the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers reported that in Chechnya, under-18s are believed to be involved in a range of armed groups in the war against Russia, although the numbers are impossible to establish given a virtual ban on media and human rights organizations from operating in the region. Some children allegedly took part in suicide bombings.
Bosnia and Herzegovina - Both sexes can voluntarily join the armed forces from the age of 17. Teenage soldiers fought in the Bosnian War in the early 1990s, partially due to a former law that dropped the conscription age to 16 in times of war.
Serbia - In times of war, the compulsory military service age can be dropped to 16 for both sexes. Teenage soldiers and paramilitary fighters fought in the wars during the breakup of Yugoslavia.
United Kingdom - The minimum age to join the British Army is 16 and a half; parental permission is required for those under the age of 18. Approximately forty percent of Britain's military forces joined when they were 16 or 17 years of age. The UK adopted the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, on the involvement of children in armed conflict on 24 June 2003. The Convention calls on ratifying governments to do everything feasible to ensure that members of their armed forces who are under 18 years of age do not take part in hostilities, however between June 2003 and July 2005, the British government inadvertently sent fifteen 17-year-old soldiers to Iraq, explaining the mistake as due to "the pressures on units prior to deployment".
In 2004 the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers reported that in Asia thousands of children are involved in fighting forces in active conflict and ceasefire situations in Afghanistan, Burma, Indonesia, Laos, Philippines, Nepal and Sri Lanka, although government refusal of access to conflict zones has made it impossible to document the numbers involved. In 2004 Burma was unique in the region, as the only country where government armed forces forcibly recruit and use children between the ages of 12 and 16.
Burma - As many as 70 000 boys serve in Burma's national army, with children as young as 12 forcibly recruited off the streets. Approximately 5 000-7 000 children serve with a range of different armed ethnic opposition groups.
Iraq - Child soldiers are being used in the militias of the current Iraqi insurgency.
Laos - Males are subject to compulsory military service from the age of 15.
Nepal - An estimated 6 000-9 000 children serve in the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) forces. Although a peace agreement is in place, the Maoists have not yet demobilized children from their ranks. Palestine - Child soldiers are also being used by Palestinians in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. According to the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers 2004 Global Report on the Use of Child Soldiers, there were at least nine documented suicide attacks involving Palestinian minors between October 2000 and March 2004: "There was no evidence of systematic recruitment of children by Palestinian armed groups. However, children are used as messengers and couriers, and in some cases as fighters and suicide bombers in attacks on Israeli soldiers and civilians. All the main political groups involve children in this way, including Fatah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine."
Arab journalist Huda Al-Hussein wrote in London Arab newspaper on October 27, 2000: "While UN organizations save child-soldiers, especially in Africa, from the control of militia leaders who hurl them into the furnace of gang-fighting, some Palestinian leaders... consciously issue orders with the purpose of ending their childhood, even if it means their last breath." On May 23, 2005, Amnesty International reiterated its calls to Palestinian armed groups to put an immediate end to the use of children in armed activities: "Palestinian armed groups must not use children under any circumstances to carry out armed attacks or to transport weapons or other material."
The Philippines - Children are recruited by rebel forces, including the New People's Army, Abu Sayyaf Group, and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). An estimated 13 percent of the 10 000 soldiers in the MILF are children. Child recruitment is also reported by some paramilitary forces linked to the government.
Sri Lanka - In Sri Lanka, thousands of children are believed to be in the ranks of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), a rebel group banned as a terrorist organization by a number of countries. Since signing a ceasefire agreement in 2001, the latest available UNICEF figures show that the LTTE has abducted 5 666 children until July 2006, although the organization speculates that only about a third of such cases are reported to them. Sri Lankan soldiers nicknamed one unit the Baby Battalion, due to the number of children in it. In response to widespread international condemnation of alleged children recruitment practices, the LTTE informed that they have made (taking effect in Oct. 2006) child recruitment illegal for its groups.
More recently, the para-military group known as the Karuna Group, which is apparently a splinter group from the LTTE, has been held responsible for the abduction of children according to UNICEF and Human Rights Watch.
The Capetown Principles and Best Practices, adopted by the NGO Working Group on the Convention on the Rights of the Child and UNICEF at a symposium on the prevention of recruitment of children into the armed forces and on demobilization and social regeneration of child soldiers in Africa in April 1997, proposed that African Governments should adopt and ratify the Optional protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict raising the minimum age from 15 to 18, and that African Governments should ratify and implement other pertinent treaties and incorporate them into national law. The symposium define a child soldier as any person under age 18 who is "part of any kind of regular or irregular armed force or group in any capacity, including but not limited to cooks, porters, messengers and those accompanying such groups, other than purely as family members. The definition includes girls recruited for sexual purposes and for forced marriage. It does not, therefore, only refer to a child who is carrying or has carried arms."
As of 2007, Africa has the largest number of child soldiers. In 2004 one estimate put the number of children involved in armed conflict including combat roles at 100 000.
Burundi – Hundreds of child soldiers serve in the Forces Nationales pour la Libération (FNL), an armed rebel Hutu group. 16-year olds are also conscripted by the Burundese military.
Central African Republic – Hundreds of children serve in armed rebel groups, including the Union of
Democratic Forces for Unity (Union des Forces Démocratiques pour le Rassemblement, UFDR).
Chad – Child soldiers are fighting with the Chadian Military, integrated rebel forces - the United Front for Democratic Change (Front Uni pour le Changement, FUC), local self-defense forces known as Tora Boro militias, and two Sudanese rebel movements operating in Chad - the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and the G-19 faction of the Sudanese Liberation Army (SLA).
Cote d'Ivoire – Children serve in armed militia groups linked to the government, including the Alliance patriotique de l'ethnie Wé (APWé) and the Union patriotique de résistance du Grand Ouest (UPRGO). The ex-rebel groups now allied into the New Forces (Forces Nouvelles de Côte d'Ivoire, FAFN) also had child soldiers.
Democratic Republic of Congo – Thousands of children serve in the military, as well as the various rebel militias. At the height of the Second Congo War, the UN estimated that more than 30 000 children were fighting with various parties to the conflict.
Rwanda – Child soldiers have been used by Rwandan government forces and paramilitaries, as well as government-backed forces operating within the Democratic Republic of Congo. Some child recruitment is still reported in refugee camps.
Somalia – Nearly all factional militias in Somalia use child soldiers, with an estimated 200 000 children involved over a 16 year period. In late 2006, Islamic Courts Union used large numbers of child soldiers to fight against Ethiopian and Somalian forces, reportedly resulting in the death of "countless" teenage fighters.
A child soldier of the Sudanese People's Liberation Army (2007).Sudan – Thousands of children fight with the Sudan People's Armed Forces, the Sudan People's Liberation Army and their Joint Integrated Units. In Darfur, the Sudanese army, the Janjaweed militias, Sudan Liberation Army factions and paramilitary forces reportedly use at least 7 000 child soldiers in the region. The Lord's Resistance Army, a Ugandan-based group, also has child soldiers in Sudan.
Uganda – Over the past twenty years, the rebel Lord's Resistance Army has abducted more than 30 000 boys and girls as soldiers. Girls are often forced to be sex slaves. The government has recruited small numbers of children into its forces as young as 13, including Local Defense Units.
Zimbabwe - The ZANU-PF government of Robert Mugabe sponsors a "youth militia" -- the National Youth Service, known as the "Green Bombers". The children are armed, provided with narcotics, and used for acts of urban violence against political dissidents. They are believed responsible for some of the worst acts of political violence in recent history.