Information on military service, specifically on how long a volunteer is allowed to serve, the sanctions for deserting the army, the selection process for soldiers sent on peace missions with ECOMOG, whether there is a limit to missions allowed to an individual and the sanctions for deserting a peace mission [GHA17314.E]

A Ghanaian professor of anthropology and economic development, who also specializes in Ghanaian politics and participated in the drafting of the 1992 Ghana constitution, stated that the Ghanaian armed forces are completely a volunteer service and there is no conscription law to meet the personnel requirements of the forces in peace times (12 May 1994). The British tradition of a volunteer military force in peace times is still the foundation of the Ghanaian armed forces. The structure, recruitment practices, training and promotion in the armed forces are still based on the British model.

According to the professor, it is considered a privilege to be a member of the Ghanaian armed forces. As a result, personnel do not enter the service with the intention of quitting. The professor stated that members of the forces are "protected" with better social and economic provisions than are generally available to the average civilian Ghanaian and members will not intentionally sacrifice such "advantages". Membership in the armed forces is considered a career just like one in the Ghanaian civil service, and the goal of personnel entering that service is to retire at a respectable rank. Given the lack of better employment opportunities for the civilian workforce, the tendency has been to stay in the forces until the mandatory retirement age of 55 years. Members can be dismissed in disgrace for conduct unbecoming of a member of the armed forces. A member dismissed in disgrace can be court-martialled before that decision is reached.

The professor stated that selection into a peace-keeping military assignment is also considered a "privilege." As a result, armed forces personnel lobby to be sent on peace missions. The commanding officer of the Ghanaian armed forces decides which battalion or unit is to serve with peace missions. According to the professor, selection to serve with the Economic Council of West African States Cease-Fire Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) in Liberia follows the same principles. Although service in Liberia has been considered a dangerous assignment, members of the armed forces with ECOMOG rarely quit voluntarily.

According to the professor, the Economic Organization for West African States (ECOWAS) mandate demands participating countries in ECOMOG to keep their forces in Liberia until their services are no longer necessary. Service time in ECOMOG is therefore unlimited. However, in order to allow others to participate, personnel have been deployed back to Ghana generally after six months duty. Budgetary requirements for logistics and other maintenance costs have limited the number of armed forces personnel that can serve at any particular time on ECOMOG duty.

A Ghanaian professor of political science at Bennett College in Greensboro, NC corroborated the above information (12 May 1994). The professor added that the Ghanaian armed forces are a volunteer service and a person has the choice to voluntarily leave the service. According to the professor, the only time there was military conscription in Ghana was during the Second World War. Few voluntarily quit the armed forces, as personnel enjoy a better standard of living than the average civilian in Ghanaian.

The professor added that Ghana has had a respectable history of peace-keeping assignments. Such assignments have been perceived by armed forces personnel as an opportunity not only to acquire experience but also to improve their economic well-being. The motivation for service in ECOMOG is no different from other peace keeping assignments in which Ghanaian armed forces personnel have participated. It is voluntary, as well. With regard to service in ECOMOG, the professor noted that the soldiers are generally rotated after six months, but this service can be extended. Service in ECOMOG by Ghanaian armed forces personnel is limited to one year to allow others the opportunity and experience of serving in a peace-keeping assignment. The personnel rotation also enables those already fatigued by the experience to be appropriately relieved. The professor explained that the peace-keepers have not been particularly enthusiastic about serving in Liberia, which they consider as too dangerous an assignment. Africa Confidential states that members of the Forces Reserve Battalion (FRB), for instance, have not hidden their dislike for duty in Liberia (21 Jan. 1994, 5-6). For basic information on the Ghanaian armed forces, its manpower requirements and how it has been maintained, please refer to the attachment from Area Handbook for Ghana.

This response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the DIRB within time constraints. This response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.


Africa Confidential [London]. 21 January 1994. "Ghana: Security under Scrutiny."

Professor of anthropology and economic development, Centre for Research on Economic Development, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. 12 May 1994. Telephone interview.

Professor of political science, Bennett College, Greensboro, NC. 12 May 1994. Telephone interview.


Africa Confidential [London]. 21 January 1994. "Ghana: Security under Scrutiny," pp. 4-6.

Area Handbook for Ghana. 1971. Edited by Irving Kaplan. Washington, DC: American University.