resources: human rights

November 2011

Published by the Quaker United Nations Office in November 2011, this short booklet reflects recent changes in international law and practice that indicates that recognition of conscientious objection to military service as a human right is now stronger than ever. The publication in available in English, French or Spanish.

February 2011

ForcesWatch's submission to the Armed Forces Bill committee raising concerns relating to the human rights of service personnel with the Armed Forces Bill Committee and making a number of recommendations to bring the UK into line with current international standards and improve terms of service.

February 2010

The Council of Europe Recommendation on Human Rights of Members of the Armed Forces lists rights and freedoms that should be respected and implemented in the Armed Forces, including that, members of the armed forces have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; access to relevant information; the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and to freedom of association with others; and, enjoy the right to vote and to stand for election.

November 2009

In their report on Children's Rights, the UK Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights recommended that the 'UK adopt a plan of action for implementing the Optional Protocol, including these recommendations, fully in the UK, together with a clear timetable for doing so.' The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child recommendations under the Optional Protocol were that the UK 'reconsider its active policy of recruitment of children into the armed forces' and a number of other measures.

October 2008

The UK remains the only EU country to recruit 16 year olds into the military and one of very few EU countries to recruit 17 year olds. The UK has signed the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict yet there is evidence that the UK continues to target children from vulnerable groups and that safeguards to protect under-18s are not effective (see Child Soldiers Global Report 2008: United Kingdom).

The report of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child: Concluding Observations on the UK (October 2008) asks that the UK “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”. It also recommends that the UK government review the limited discharge rights for child soldiers and “that parents are included from the outset and during the entire process of recruitment and enlistment.”

All these recommendations have been supported by the UK Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights in their report on Children's Rights in November 2009.

November 2007

An independent report, published in 2007, highlighting the risks posed to young people through joining the military, how young people from disadvantaged communities are targeted, how information available to potential recruits is often misleading and how the terms of service are complicated, confusing and severely restricting. The research found that a large proportion join for negative reasons, including the lack of civilian career options.