Five countries that still value conscription

Image by © Inna Sokolovska/Demotix/Corbis

In an effort to curb youth unemployment, the national steering committee in the presidency is seeking to introduce conscription as part of the National Youth Services (NYS) programme. This would also involve a collaboration with the SA National Defence Force (SANDF).

Although conscription was scrapped in SA in 1994, there are still many countries today which enforce compulsory national service. Here are five nations which still practice conscription today.

1. South Korea

Image by © DoD/Corbis

Image by © DoD/Corbis

Conscription law was first passed in South Korea in 1965, and prescribes that all males between 18 and 35 years old serve in the military. Exceptions include organ donors, criminals who have been imprisoned for more than 18 months, Olympic athletes, the poor and the disabled.

2. Ghana

Image by © Paul Almasy/Corbis

Image by © Paul Almasy/Corbis

Ghanaian graduates from tertiary institutions are required to complete one year of national service within various government sectors, known as the National Service Secretariat. Members of the NSS are paid monthly allowances which are administered by the Finance Ministry. Benefits include one month’s annual leave, which is usually granted in June, while females may apply for three month’s unpaid maternity leave, which they then have to make up.

3. United States

Image by © Tammy Hanratty/Corbis

Image by © Tammy Hanratty/Corbis

Prior to the second World War, the Selective Training and Service Act of 1940 was passed, which stipulated that all males between the ages of 21 and 35 were required to register for one year of compulsory military service. During the War, the conscription age was lowered to 17 years of age, and approximately 12% of the population participated in national service. Service was limited to US and US territories. Conscription is not rigidly enforced today, however, the Selective Service system remains in place today as contingency for wartime activities.

4. Greece

Image by © Layne Kennedy/Corbis

Image by © Layne Kennedy/Corbis

Greek men between the ages of 19 and 45 are required to serve a mandatory conscription period of nine months, while all males from the age of 18 are required to enlist. The government will, however, grant deferments for five to six years to male citizens who wish to attend higher or further education. The Greek government will also grant deferments to candidates who are not medically fit to serve, as well as incarcerated criminals.

5. Nigeria

Image by © Tim Graham/Corbis

Image by © Tim Graham/Corbis

Nigeria doesn’t enforce strict conscription, but does require graduates to register for the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) for one year of national service. Members of the corp are posted to various locations around the country, with an orientation period of three weeks and an assignment that follows thereafter. Once members have completed their service, they are granted one months’ vacation. The NYSC has been criticised for sending graduates to violent areas of the country, and for not timeously paying their members.

View the map below to see which countries enforce conscription:


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