• December 9, 2014



The Celtic League has written to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child concerning the operation by the United Kingdom (UK) of military cadet forces which recruit children as young as twelve.

The League has referred to Committee to concerns it raised two years ago about a similar situation in Australia.

The Celtic League has in the past raised the issue of the militarisation of young people with Children’s Commissioners throughout the UK.

The text of the letter to the CRC is set out below:

“The Secretariat

Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC)
Human Rights Treaties Division (HRTD)
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
Palais Wilson – 52, rue des Pâquis
CH-1201 Geneva (Switzerland)

8th December 2014

Dear Sir,

I understand that in its 72nd Session in May/June 2016 the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) will consider a number of Country reports including one from the government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. (UK)

I have studied the Fifth Periodic Report submitted to the CRC by the UK in May of this year ahead of the 72nd Session

I refer specifically to the section of the report which deals with the ‘Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict’ and note that nowhere within its submission does the UK refer to the operation by the countries of substantial military cadet forces which recruit children from the age of twelve to eighteen years.

We are aware that the UK Government claim that the cadets are a ‘National Youth Organisation’ sponsored by the UK Ministry of Defence and do not form part of the British Armed Forces or Reserves.

The CRC will be aware that this is an argument advanced by some countries including the UK to (in our view) deflect scrutiny from the militarisation of children.

The Celtic League believe that via the cadet scheme, children are exposed to military-like training activities, including drills, ceremonial parades and the use of firearms at an early age

The Celtic League has raised concerns previously about the operation of military cadet forces, enrolling children as young as twelve, with the Children’s Commissioners in various parts of the UK.

Recalling that at its 60th Session in May/June 2012 the CRC made the following comments in its Concluding Observations to the Government of Australia:

“Cadet scheme

19. While recognizing that members of the Australian Defence Force Cadets are not
members of the ADF, the Committee notes with concern that under the cadet scheme,
children are exposed to military-like training activities, including drills, ceremonial parades
and the use of firearms at an early age. Furthermore, the Committee is concerned that the
ADF active targeting of schools for recruits through ‘work experience programs’ may
unduly put pressure on young persons, especially from marginalized populations and from
different linguistic backgrounds to volunteer, without full informed consent.

20. The Committee recommends that the State party:

(a) Review the operations of its cadet scheme to ensure that activities in such
programmes are age appropriate, particularly with respect to military-like activities,
and establish clear guidelines on the age requirement for such activities, taking due
consideration of the mental and physical effects of such activities on the child;

(b) Ensure effective and independent monitoring of the cadet scheme to
safeguard the rights and welfare of the child enrolled in the cadet forces and ensure
that children, parents and other groups are adequately informed about the
recruitment process and are able to present concerns or complaints;

(c) Prohibit the handling and use of firearms and other explosives for all
children under the age of 18 years in line with the spirit of the Optional Protocol;

(d) Ensure that young persons from different linguistic backgrounds and/or
from marginalized populations are not overly targeted for recruitment and put in
place measures for informed consent;

(e) Include information on how the activities of the cadet forces fit with the
aims of education, as recognized in article 29 of the Convention and in the
Committee’s general comment No. 1 (2001) on the aims of education.”

Will the Committee address similar concerns to the UK as those which were directed to Australia so that some the principles set out in those Concluding Observations, particularly those set out in sections a-e (above); have to be considered by the UK government?

For information we will be reiterating our concerns to the Children’s Commissioners appointed in the various jurisdictions of the UK.

J B Moffatt (Mr)
Director of Information”

Related links on the main Celtic League web-site:


J B Moffatt (Mr)
Director of Information


(Please note that replies to correspondence received by the League and posted on CL News are usually scanned hard copies. Obviously every effort is made to ensure the scanning process is accurate but sometimes errors do occur.)
The Celtic League has branches in the six Celtic Countries. It works to promote cooperation between these countries and campaigns on a broad range of political, cultural and environmental matters. It highlights human rights abuse, monitors all military activity and focuses on socio-economic issues

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