Compulsory military service

Other Names:
Military draft
Military conscription

Conscription is compulsory military training and regementation of young people, usually males.

The requirement that an able-bodied male citizen must serve in the military forces usually takes place under the universal military training provision (as for example in Switzerland), or under emergency or war-time conscription. Compulsory military service presents a number of problems. First is the questionable effectiveness of compelling non-arms bearing citizens to become fighting or defensive forces when other options might include: an all-volunteer military; mercenaries; or, less likely, a military alliance where a particular country's role would be strictly logistic and could be fulfilled by civilians. Another difficulty is the cost to the state of compulsory training or service. The motivation of conscripts or those inducted under UMT provisions is problematical, and the disruption of private life and economic activity also can be considerable.


After Napoleon first imposed military conscription the system spread rapidly to all countries of continental Europe and has since been extended to practically the whole world. Countries without conscription are rare. Often one of the first acts of newly independent states has been to impose compulsory military service upon their citizens. Conscription is almost considered to be a necessary adjunct of national sovereignty and independence. Governments of come countries with a large proportion of their people living in poverty, still feel that they must divert money and manpower to the maintenance of a conscript army.

Narrower Problems:
Extra-legal conscription
Defence Military
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 10: Reduced InequalityGOAL 16: Peace and Justice Strong Institutions
Problem Type:
G: Very specific problems
Date of last update
04.10.2020 – 22:48 CEST