German parliament votes to suspend conscription

The German parliament approved amendments to the conscription law on 15 December 2010, which will suspend conscription from 1 July 2011 on. The last conscripts will start their compulsory military service on 3 January 2011 for six months.

Besides suspending conscription in peace time, the medical examination of potential recruits will also be suspended.

Registration, however, will be extended to women. According to a new article 58 of the conscription law, the local authorities will have to hand over names and addresses of German youth - boys and girls - who will turn 18 in the following year, to the local military authorities (Kreiswehrersatzamt) at the beginning of the year, for the purpose of "sending information about a service in the Armed Forces". This means that in fact 16-17 year old youth can be contacted by the military, and can (and will) be sent military propaganda.

While it is possible to object to this, this will need to happen in the year before the data will be passed on to the military authorities. This means some who turns 18 in May of year x will need to object to his or her data being passed on in year x-2, as the age of 16.

The amendments to the conscription law also include new regulations for a voluntary military service for men and women of initially six months basic training, which can be extended by up to 17 months.

With the suspension of conscription, substitute service for conscientious objectors also needs to be suspended. A draft law aimed primarily at establishing a new, federal voluntary service, which also includes the regulations for the suspension of substitute service, has been presented the German government. According to the draft, substitute service will also be suspended from 1 July 2011 on. But from the same date on a new voluntary service, open for women and men, will be available, administered by the former Federal Agency for Substitute Service (Bundesamt für Zivildienst), which will be renamed "Federal Agency for Family and Civil Society" (Bundesamt für Familie und zivilgesellschaftliche Aufgaben). The new voluntary service will last 6, 12, or 24 months, and it is planned that there will be about 30,000 places initially.

This new voluntary service on a federal level is in addition to existing voluntary service schemes of the German states (Länder), the Voluntary Social Year and the Voluntary Ecological Year.

Sources: Gesetz zur Änderung wehrrechtlicher Vorschriften 2011 (Wehrrechtsänderungsgesetz 2011 – WehrRÄndG 2011) http://www.asfrab.de/fileadmin/user_upload/media/pdf/WehrRAndG2011-Entwurf.pdf; Entwurf eines Gesetzes zur Einführung eines Bundesfreiwilligendienstes, 16 November 2010, http://www.freiwillig-am-meer.de/fileadmin/dokumente/Infomaterial/Entwurf_BundesFWDGesetz.pdf