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Austria - Consideration of reports submitted by States parties under Article 8(1) of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict: Initial reports of States parties due in 2004: Addendum  UNCRCSPR 8; CRC/C/OPAC/AUT/1 (8 July 2004)
Convention on the
Rights of the Child
8 July 2004
COMMITTEE ON THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD
REPORTS SUBMITTED BY STATES PARTIES
UNDER ARTICLE 8 (1) OF THE OPTIONAL
PROTOCOL TO THE
CONVENTION ON THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD ON THE
INVOLVEMENT OF CHILDREN IN ARMED CONFLICT
Initial reports of States parties due in 2004
[23 June 2004]
ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on
the involvement of children in armed conflict
on 1 February 2002. It entered
into force in respect of Austria on 12 February 2002. This is Austria’s
first report pursuant
to article 8, paragraph 1, of the Optional Protocol.
Austrian National Defence Act was amended prior to the ratification of the
Optional Protocol to explicitly prohibit the direct
participation of persons
under 18 years of age in direct hostilities. The amendment came into effect on
1 January 2001.
the parliamentary debates on the Optional Protocol, it was welcomed as an
important instrument for the protection and promotion
of the rights of the
child. It was thus unanimously approved by all parties in the parliamentary
incidents of hostilities nor armed conflicts took place in Austria in the last
decades. Detailed statistical information
or relevant research on children in
armed conflict are therefore not available. The relevant legal provisions are
attached in annex
government and non-governmental agencies were consulted on the preparation of
the present report.
II. INFORMATION RELATING TO ARTICLES 1-7
OF THE OPTIONAL
the purposes of articles 1-3 of the Optional Protocol, two Austrian laws are
(a) The National Defence Act, which regulates
compulsory and voluntary recruitment in the Austrian armed forces
(Bundesheer) for the purpose of Defence of the Austrian territory;
(b) The Act on Dispatching of Soldiers for Assistance
regulates recruitment for deployments outside Austria, which is
Legislative measures to prohibit the involvement of persons
who have not attained the age of 18 in direct hostilities
is recalled that, upon ratification of the Convention, Austria entered the
following declaration: “Austria will not make
any use of the possibility
provided for in article 38, paragraph 2, to determine an age limit of
15 years for taking part in hostilities
as this rule is incompatible with
article 3, paragraph 1, which determines that the best interests of the child
shall be a primary
41, paragraph 2, of the National Defence
Act states that the direct
participation of soldiers who have not attained the age of 18 years in
hostilities shall not be
respect to the meaning of “direct participation”: the wording of
the relevant part of section 41, paragraph 2, of
the National Defence Act (in
German: “Eine unmittelbare Teilnahme von Soldaten, die das 18.
Lebensjahr noch nicht vollendet haben, an Feindseligkeiten im Rahmen eines
ist nicht zulässig.”) mirrors closely the respective
wording of article 1 of the Optional Protocol “... ensure that members of
forces who have not attained the age of 18 years do not take a
direct part in hostilities”. The term “direct participation
hostilities” is interpreted in a restrictive manner and does not include
acts such as gathering and transmission of military
of arms and munitions, provision of supplies, etc. In practice, no specific
questions as to the meaning
of this provision have arisen so far.
2, paragraph 2, of the Act on Dispatching of Soldiers for Assistance Abroad
provides that a voluntary request for deployment
abroad may not be lodged prior
to the completion of the 18th year of
one serving in the Austrian armed forces, irrespective of age, was taken
prisoner. Austrian soldiers are not taking part in direct
hostilities as they
are only deployed in peacekeeping missions.
to section 18, paragraph 4, of the National Defence Act, male Austrian nationals
of the calendar year in which they complete
their eighteenth year of age are, as
a rule, called up for registration
registration a commission, consisting of an officer, a physician and a
psychologist, decides on the fitness for service of
the person concerned on the
basis of medical and psychological examinations.
registration, the following documents have to be presented:
- − A proof
of identity, e.g. passport, a national ID card (Personalausweis) or
- − Certificate
- − Birth
- − Proof
of registered residence (Meldezettel);
- − Social
security card; and
- − If
applicable, a certificate of marriage.
to section 24, paragraph 1, of the National Defence Act, a person may be
called up for military service either by a recruitment
order or by a
general notification of the Federal Minister for Defence classified as an
“ordinance” (Verordnung). The recruitment order may be
issued no earlier than six months after the first decision on fitness for active
to section 9, paragraph 1, of the National Defence Act, only persons who have
turned 18 years and are fit for military service
shall be recruited (on a
compulsory basis) into the armed
integration into the armed forces” as to the Guidelines regarding initial
reports of States parties to the
Optional Protocol to the Convention on the
Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed
are no legal provisions enabling the age of conscription to be lowered in
exceptional circumstances (e.g. state of emergency).
declaration made by Austria upon ratification of the Optional Protocol reads as
“Under Austrian law the minimum age for the voluntary
recruitment of Austrian citizens into the Austrian army (Bundesheer) is
17 years. According to paragraph 15, in conjunction with paragraph 65 (c)
of the Austrian National Defence Act 1990 (Wehrgesetz 1990), the explicit
consent of parents or other legal guardians is required for the voluntary
recruitment of a person between 17
and 18 years. The provisions of the Austrian
National Defence Act 1990, together with the subjective legal remedies
the Austrian Federal Constitution, ensure that legal protection in
the context of such a decision is afforded to volunteers under the age of 18. A
derives from the strict application of the principles of rule
of law, good governance and effective legal protection.”
to subsequent amendments the references to “paragraphs 15 and 65
(c)” in the Declaration presently refer to sections 9, paragraph 2, and 57
of the National Defence Act as
9, paragraph 2, of the National Defence Act provides that persons who have
attained the age of 17 but not yet 18 may do their
(a) On the basis of a voluntary application with the
explicit consent of their parents or other legal guardians;
(b) Following the registration procedure described in paragraphs 11 and 12
(c) After ensuring that volunteers are knowledgeable about their duties as
under 18 years are only recruited for the purposes of training. Deployment for
under-18-year-old recruits outside Austria
the 2003 amendment to the National Defence Act women may volunteer for military
training for a period of 12 months, voluntary
armed manoeuvres (for training
purposes) and functional services (to fulfil other military tasks in the
interest of fast, economical,
costeffective and purposeful discharge of duties).
Women are excluded from involvement in armed conflicts and not liable to do
(as of June 2004) 273 male recruits are enlisted on a voluntary basis. Two
female recruits under 18 are currently in training.
that all male Austrian nationals are liable for military service, the
statistical information on recruits reflects, in most
cases, the statistical
information of the general average of the Austrian (male) population. The
origin of volunteers from rural/urban
areas cannot be inferred from the
registered residence (Hauptwohnsitz) as young recruits often change their
residence after leaving their parents’ home. Detailed statistics on
18 by region, rural/urban areas are only available as regards
the number of recruits in the federal states (Bundesländer).
This data is attached in annex 3. Statistics on social origin is not available
as data on school education and professional training
of the recruits are only
collected once employment is taken up with the armed forces. Regarding data on
ethnic origin, only Austrian
male citizens are liable for military service.
Data on recruits who are members of ethnic minorities with Austrian nationality
not collected separately.
Declaration on minimum age for voluntary recruitment
Austrian Declaration (see paragraph 17 above) reflects existing Austrian
legislation before and after ratification as well as
considered useful for the further careers of the persons concerned.
systematic or comprehensive debate took place in Austria prior to the adoption
of the declaration given that the existing Austrian
legislation reflected a
general consensus on the minimum age.
possibility to register voluntarily from age 17 serves to enable
under-18-years-olds who have completed their secondary education
to do their
compulsory military service before starting to work or study at
university or college. This is closely connected to the fact that children who
complete their sixth
year of age in September through December of any given year
may start primary school in that year and that school years end in June.
12 years of education, which is the standard for many types of secondary and
vocational education, statistically, a significant
portion of the school leavers
are under 18.
Austrian children’s rights NGOs advocate for a higher minimum age for
the registration/recruitment procedure see paragraphs 12, 13, and 19 above.
every person starting his/her service, a volunteer undergoes a medical
examination when actually joining the armed forces so
as to check his/her
fitness for service.
effective minimum service time is eight months, i.e. six months’ military
training and two months’ armed manoeuvres
(for training purposes).
Recruits may serve these eight months without interruption, or first seven
months and the remaining month
in field exercises within two years.
are discharged if a medical examination shows that s/he is physically or
psychologically unfit for military service.
rules governing military justice or discipline apply equally to recruits
irrespective of their age. There are no military courts
to section 4 of the National Defence Act, a complaint commission in military
matters has been established. The commission
is composed of members nominated
by the National Parliament as well as of the parties represented in Parliament
in proportion to
the number of their seats. The commission may receive
complaints, inter alia from volunteers and other recruits. The commission
also conduct ex officio investigations into presumed shortcomings, deficiencies
or abuses in the military realm.
the reporting period, February 2002 to April 2004, no recruits under 18
years of age were on trial or in detention.
minimum and maximum sanctions foreseen in case of desertion are governed by the
Military Penal Code. The general penal provisions
governed by the (civil) Penal
Code and (civil) Penal Procedure Code, including all norms relating to juveniles
governed by the Juvenile
Court Act (Jugendgerichtsgesetz), as well as the
special sentencing regime for juveniles (see below, paragraph 37), are
applicable as long as the Military Penal
Code does not provide for special
9 of the Military Penal Code makes it punishable to desert from the armed forces
while in active service. The minimum sentence
is six months and the maximum
five years of imprisonment. For first offenders who turn themselves in
voluntarily within six weeks,
the maximum sentence is six months’
imprisonment or a fine of up to 360 daily
rates; in case of absence
of more than eight days, a sentence of up to one year’s imprisonment is
juvenile offenders the sentences are reduced to half; minimum sentences are not
armed forces do not use any incentives to encourage volunteers to join the
ranks. There are no recruitment offices in
Austrian armed forces provide comprehensive general information about their
activities, the registration procedure and other issues
military service or the substitute civilian service. The Ministry of Defence
operates an Internet web site
providing information on careers and compulsory
military service in the armed forces. Specific information is made available to
parents or legal guardians upon request.
Austrian armed forces do not operate schools.
the so-called Militärrealgymnasium in Wiener Neustadt offers
students from age 14 a higher secondary education with a
specialization in natural sciences and a military-led
school. The school is
supervised by the general school authorities in all relevant aspects. The
boarding school is governed by internal
rules (Hausordnung) under
the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Defence.
school concludes with a school-leaving examination (“Matura”)
after four years, which entitles students to attend university. In addition,
but not exclusively, the school aims to prepare
students for a military career
(military officers). Students of the Militärrealgymnasium are not
members of the Austrian armed forces; they have the right to leave school at any
time and not to pursue a military career.
proportion between academic education and military training in the curriculum
is 4 (academic):1 (military training). Currently
(as of May 2004),
there are 8 military and 40 civil staff; 170 students, among them 16
girls, attend the school.
school curriculum includes the main features of international humanitarian
general (civil) rules governing school discipline apply. Teaching staff are
forbidden to resort to disciplinary means which violate
the human dignity of
pupils, such as corporal punishment, abusive remarks or collective punishment
pursuant to section 47, paragraph
3, of the School Education Act
Armed groups and legislative provisions
armed groups have operated on/from the territory of Austria for decades.
law prohibits and criminalizes the recruitment and use of persons of any age in
hostilities by armed groups that are distinct
from the Austrian armed forces.
Pursuant to section 279 of the Austrian Penal Code, a person who sets up an
armed group, arms or
leads it, recruits members for an armed group or trains
them in a military way, provides for weapons, means of transportation,
facilities or money or assists an armed group in another
relevant way, is to be sentenced to imprisonment for up to three
years. There has been no
conviction pursuant to this provision since 1999.
addition, section 280 of the Code makes it a crime to collect and possess
weaponry, munitions and other warfare material in order
to provide a greater
number of persons with equipment for armed combat. There has been no conviction
pursuant to this provision
the Austrian Penal Code covers treason and other attacks against the Austrian
State, and contains provisions, inter alia,
with respect to treason, acts
against foreign Governments, criminalizing the undertaking of activities in
Austria aimed at changing
the constitutional order of a foreign State or at
separating territories belonging to a foreign State, as well as prohibiting the
support of parties in armed conflict (in which Austria is not taking part) from
Austrian territory. Since 1999 there has been one
conviction regarding the
commission of treason against the Austrian State, in 2002. There has been no
conviction regarding the commission
of treason against foreign Governments since
Ratification of other relevant international instruments and
other multilateral activities
has ratified the following international conventions:
- − The
Geneva Conventions of 1949 and the Additional Protocols thereto of 1977. The
Geneva Conventions were promulgated in the
Austrian Federal Law Gazette,
vol. I, No. 155/1953; the Additional Protocols in the Federal Law
Gazette, vol. I, No. 527/1982;
- − The
Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court on 28 December 2000,
implemented by the Act on Cooperation with the International
Federal Law Gazette, vol. I, No. 135/2002;
- − International
Labour Organization (ILO) Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999 (No.
182), Federal Law Gazette, vol. III, No. 41/2002.
has taken inspiration from the global goal to “bridge the gap” and
has made children in armed conflict a priority
in Austrian human rights policy.
Consequently, Austria’s presidency of the Human Security Network from 2002
to 2003 had children in armed conflict as a central focus. Under
Austria’s leadership, this network of 13 Foreign Ministers from
continents elaborated and subsequently endorsed a Support Strategy on Children
Affected by Armed Conflict at their meeting
in May 2003 in Graz. The strategy
identifies a set of operative principles, including strengthening monitoring,
reporting and training,
and an alarm function in cases of child rights
Human Security Network also developed as a corollary to the Support Strategy a
Child Rights Training Curriculum that serves as
a comprehensive checklist
containing relevant principles, guidelines and references, as well as exemplary
training modules so as
to be adaptable to specific situations on the ground and
to the target groups to be trained. This programme has been made available
the United Nations Secretary-General and other organizations and NGOs.
The training-curriculum can be downloaded from the web site of the
Austrian Ministry for Foreign
Affairs. A French
translation, sponsored by the Government of Canada, is forthcoming.
has carried forward this cross-regional political commitment and successfully
stimulated debate within the European Union
that ultimately led to the adoption
of the EU Guidelines on Children Affected by Armed
implementation of these Guidelines and their immediate, effective and sustained
mainstreaming throughout all relevant EU policies
and actions is now a priority
of all members of the European Union.
has been a long-standing partner of UNICEF on the multilateral level and is a
member of the UNICEF Administrative Council
from 2004 to 2006. Austrian
priorities, such as children in armed conflicts or the implementation of the
resolutions of the World
Summit for Children, will be put on the agenda.
Austria currently funds a Junior Professional Officer working in the child
unit of UNICEF.
Paragraphs 1 and 2
Implementation and enforcement of the Optional Protocol
Austrian National Defence Act 1990 was amended in 2001 to provide full
compliance with the Optional Protocol in respect of article
has not entered any reservations to the Optional Protocol.
Austrian Ministry of Defence is responsible for managing the recruitment and
selection of service personnel in conjunction with
the armed forces. Members of
the armed forces responsible for recruitment are required by law to comply with
the National Defence
Act. They may face disciplinary action and under certain
circumstances penal sanctions for abuse of authority for any failure in
complying with the Act.
the complaint commission in military matters see paragraph 33 above.
Federal Ministry for Education, Science and Culture is responsible for the
relevant provisions of the Optional Protocol concerning
schools in Austria.
civil society has been invited to participate actively in the comprehensive
process of elaborating a National Action Plan
for the implementation of the
Convention on the Rights of the Child, including the Optional
Protocol. This process
has started in 2003 and brought together some 100 experts from governmental and
non-governmental organizations. This
ongoing process is intended as a dynamic
forum for the continuous improvement of the implementation of the Convention.
to the experts meeting, a wide range of child participation projects
have been carried out. Internet forums for discussion and information
created. A database documenting the measures relating to child rights
undertaken by ministries has been set up.
courses for soldiers in deployment abroad contain international law, including
the rights of the child. The specific content
of training for soldiers posted
abroad on a peacekeeping mission depends also on the place of deployment. For
instance, two members
of the Austrian armed forces were deployed to a mission in
the Democratic Republic of the Congo. They received a tailor-made training
programme which took into account the special circumstances of the situation,
including the situation of child soldiers, in the country.
and after the national parliamentary process for ratification, the Optional
Protocol was widely disseminated and discussed.
Ministry for Foreign Affairs has worked actively at the international level to
promote the ratification of the Optional Protocol
and in particular has
contributed within the framework of the European Union to the development of the
EU Guidelines on Children
Affected by Armed Conflict (see paragraph 53
Austria’s commitment in the framework of the Human Security Network to
bring about concrete added value for the protection
of children in armed
conflict, see paragraphs 51 and 52 above.
Technical cooperation and financial assistance
primary aims of Austria’s development cooperation are poverty reduction,
preventing conflict and securing peace, and environmental
Austria’s endeavours are primarily concentrated on underprivileged groups
in the least developed countries of
Africa, Asia and Latin America. The
Cooperation with Eastern Europe (Ostzusammenarbeit)
19 countries focuses on South-East Europe and include several
1, paragraph 4, of the Development Cooperation Act sets out the principle, among
others, that measures shall take into consideration,
in a suitable manner, to
meet the needs of
triennial programme 2004-2006 of Austrian development cooperation policy sets
out as two main priorities human rights training
and the protection of children
in armed conflict.
development cooperation has conducted several reintegration and demobilization
programmes (for a list of projects see annex
[*] Related appendices are available
for consultation in the files of the secretariat in the language of submission
GE.04-42549 (E) 120804
1 Federal Law Gazette, vol. I, No. 140/2000.
über die Entsendung von Soldaten zur Hilfeleistung in das Ausland
(Auslandseinsatzgesetz 2001), Federal Law Gazette, vol. I, No.
55/2001 (last amendment Federal Law Gazette, vol. I, No. 137/2003).
 Federal Law
Gazette, vol. I, No. 146/2001 as amended by Federal Law Gazette, vol.
I, No. 137/2003.
 The relevant provision
is attached in annex 1.
 CRC/OP/AC/1, 12
 The relevant
provisions are attached in annex 1.
 The specific amount
of the fine is composed of a given fine per day or daily rate (Tagessatz)
which is to be determined according to the delinquent’s personal situation
and according to his income or financial capacity.
 For more details on
the administration of juvenile justice, see Austria’s second periodic
report to the Committee on the Rights
of the Child.
 See, for further
information, albeit in German only, at http://www.milrg.at/ (as accessed in June
 The relevant
provision is attached in annex 1.
(as accessed in June 2004).
 See http://europa.eu.int/comm/external_relations/human_rights/child/
(as accessed in June 2004).
 The relevant
provisions concerning Austria’s development cooperation policy are
attached in annex 1.