Marriage of individuals whose level of physical, emotional, sexual and psychosocial development makes them unable to freely and fully consent to marriage. 

Additional notes and information

Many United Nations resolutions and reports use ‘early marriage’ and ‘child marriage’ interchangeably, without any noticeable distinction. Others use the phrase ‘early marriage, including child marriage’, implying that early marriage encompasses child marriage but also includes situations that do not qualify as child marriage, such as marriages in which one or both spouses are below the age of 18 but have attained majority under state laws.


(1) CEDAW and CRC Committees (2014). Documents used by the committees’ members in the drafting of the Joint General Recommendation/General Comment No 31 of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women and No 18 of the Committee on the Rights of the Child on harmful practices. Available at:;

(2) Sexual Rights Initiative (SRI) & Women for Women’s Human Rights (New Ways) (2013). Submission to OHCHR regarding preventing and eliminating child, early and forced marriage.