Informe sobre el país: Ghana

Ultima revisión: 22 Jul 1998
22 Jul 1998

1 Conscription

conscription exists

Ghana has no military conscription, although according to art. 27, para. 6 of the constitution all citizens may be called to participate in the national defence. [1] [7]

The Ghanian armed forces consist of volunteers and there is no conscription law to meet the personnel requirements of the forces in peacetime. [7]

Yet Ghana has another form of conscription. According to the 1980 National Service Act (Act 426), there is a compulsory national service which includes eight weeks of military training. [6] [9]

national service

All men and women who are over 18, must perform a two years' national service, when they have completed their studies. Therefore all educational institutions must forward lists of students who have completed their studies to the National Service Secretariat. It is possible to serve one year before entering university and one year after graduation. Those who have completed national service are awarded a National Service Certificate. [6] [9]

Officially failure to perform national service is punishable by up to five years' imprisonment, but according to UNESCO in practice no one has ever been convicted. Those who refuse to perform national service are denied passports and may not be employed officially. [6] [9]

About the eight week military training not much is known. According to the National Service Secretariat this training is meant to develop the physical qualities of its participants. [6]

military recruitment

The structure, recruitment practices, training and promotion of the Ghanian armed forces are based on the British model. It is considered a privilege to be a member of the armed forces and they have better social and economic provisions than the average Ghanian.

Given the lack of better employment opportunities, there is a tendency to stay in the forces until retirement at 55. [7]

Soldiers and non-commissioned officers must serve for 15 years before they are entitled to receive a pension. For some higher ranked officers this is 10 years. [8]

Since the 1960s women participate in the armed forces. Previously, completion of secondary school was a prerequisite for signing up; nowadays female recruits should have a university degree. [5]

recruitment and participation in ECOMOG

The Ghanian armed forces have a contingent of 900 troops in the Economic Council of West African States Cease-Fire Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) in Liberia. Service in ECOMOG, as in other peace keeping forces, is voluntary. Although members of the armed forces dislike serving in Liberia, which they consider too dangerous, they rarely quit voluntarily. Service in ECOMOG is limited to one year, but in general the soldiers are rotated after six months. [7]

2 Conscientious objection

It is not known if there is any legal provision for conscientious objection.

According to one source, members of the armed forces have the choice to leave the armed forces voluntarily. [7]

3 Desertion


Desertion and disobedience are punishable under the 1962 Armed Forces Act (Act 105).

Disobedience to lawful commands of a superior officer is punishable by life imprisonment or by any less punishment (sect. 22). [2]

Desertion while on active service or when under orders of active service is punishable by life imprisonment or by any less punishment. In any other case desertion is punishable by up to five years' imprisonment (sect. 27). [2]

Any individual who does not inform his superior officer of (intended) desertion or fails to take steps to cause the apprehension of a deserter may be punished by not less than 2 years' imprisonment or by any less punishment provided by Act 105 (sect. 28). [2]

According to a military attaché of the Embassy of Ghana in Washington, a deserter would be court-martialled and, depending on the offense and the judges, could be sentenced to death. [4]


According to one source, members of the armed forces may leave voluntarily. For bad behaviour a member of the armed forces may be dismissed in disgrace after a court-martial ruling. [7]

In 1991 it was reported that trainee-soldiers who had refused to undergo and/or tried to escape from military training in Libya were shot. [3]

5 History

The only time there was military conscription in Ghana was during the Second World War. [7]

In 1972 the National Union of Ghanian Students (NUGS) successfully protested against the proposed introduction of compulsory military service. They convinced the new military government of the uselessness of military service as the country was not at war. Instead they proposed the creation of national service with the aim to prepare the students for their future life. The National Service programme was established in 1973. All students in certain fields upon completion of a course, had to perform one year's national service. In 1980 the period of service was increased to two years including a minimum of six months military training. After NUGS protests the military training was reduced to eight weeks. [6] [9]

6 Annual statistics

The armed forces are 7,000 strong - 0.04 percent of the population. There is also a 1,000 strong Presidential Guard. [10]

Every year approximately 360,000 men and women reach national service age. [10]

It is not known how many participate in the National Service programme.


[1] Eide, A., C. Mubanga-Chipoya 1985. Conscientious objection to military service, report prepared in pursuance of resolutions 14 (XXXIV) and 1982/30 of the Sub-Commission of Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities. United Nations, New York. [2] Twumasi, P.K. 1985. Criminal Law in Ghana. Ghana Publishing Corporation, Tema, Ghana. [3] 'Libya: Five Ghanaian Trainee-Soldiers Shot?' in: New African, June 1990. London. [4] IRBDC 1991. Telephone interview with the Embassy of Ghana, Washington; and with an Assistant Professor of the University of Toronto, Department of Sociology. 23 September 1991. [5] IRBDC 1992. Telephone interview with a Professor of political science, Wayne State University, Détroit. 16 April 1992. [6] Abecassis, L., P. Duong, S. Perrier, N. Watt, 1994 Conscription Militaire ou Service National a Option Civique, rapport de l'enquête préliminaire effectuée auprès d'une vingtaine d'Etats membres de l'UNESCO. CCIVS - UNESCO, Paris. [7] IRBDC 1994. Telephone interview with a Professor of anthropology and economic development, Centre for Research on Economic Development, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; and with a Professor of political science, Bennett College, Greensboro, NC. 12 May 1994. [8] IRBDC 1994. Telephone interview with the Embassy of Ghana, Washington, DC. 24 May 1994. [9] Gouault, J. 1995. Service National, quelle options? Serie POUR Avec. GREP Editions/UNESCO, Paris. [10] Institute for Strategic Studies 1997. Military Balance 1997/98. ISS, London, UK.