Military Service in the United States of America: Issues of Conscience and Human Rights

War Resisters' International released a report to the United Nations' Human Rights Committee in March 2006, highlighting "issues of conscience and human rights" in relation to the US Armed Forces. The report forms part of WRI's activities in preparation for 15 May 2006 - International Conscientious Objectors' Day - which focuses on US COs and resisters (see "upcoming events"). WRI's main concerns are:

  • The procedure for recognising conscientious objectors of the present all-volunteer military is solely in the hands of the military, and therefore is not independent and impartial, as required by Commission on Human Rights resolution 1998/77;
  • In practice, conscientious objectors who are denied the right to conscientious objection and who refuse orders to deploy are sentenced to prison;
  • The denial of educational benefits and other forms of discrimination against those who fail to register for a potential draft under the Military Selective Service Act is a violation of the right the education, and also amounts to punishment without trial;
  • The military has access to private data of high school students for recruitment purposes, which is a violation of the right to privacy;
  • Counter-recruitment activists face intimidation and arrest from police, military, and university authorities, which amounts to a violation of the right to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly;
  • The military's "stopp loss" orders to extend the length of military employment contracts without the consent of the soldier concerned are a violation of the Forced Labour Convention.

The report is available in English and Spanish on this website.

On 19 March, The Missourian published statistics on applications for conscientious objector status in the US Armed Forces since 2001 (see graphics on the right), which show an increase in applications, but a clear decrease of the approval rate.