Concluding observations on the fifth periodic report of Austria*

* Adopted by the Committee at its 115th session (19 October–6 November 2015).

Freedom of conscience and religious belief

33. The Committee notes that the length of the civilian alternative service to military service for conscientious objectors is longer than military service and may be punitively long if not based on reasonable and objective grounds (arts. 18 and 26).

32. The State party is encouraged to ensure that the length of service alternative to military service required for conscientious objectors is not punitive in nature.

Austria votes to keep conscription

In January, in a referendum on compulsory military service, nearly 60 percent of Austrians voted to maintain the status quo and maintain conscription, where men have to serve in the army for six months or in the civilian service for nine months when they reach the age of 18. Turnout in the referendum was slightly more than 50%.

Austria: Referendum on conscription in January 2013

On 20 January 2013, the citizens of Austria will be able to decide on the future of conscription in the country in a referendum. At present, it seems impossible to predict the outcome of the referendum - opinion polls differ, and are generally close, with 51:49 results not uncommon - in favour or against conscription.

Austrians to vote on abolishing military service

VIENNA, Aug 28 (Reuters) - Austrians will vote in January on whether they want to abolish military service, an issue which has divided the ruling coalition, officials said on Tuesday.

The centre-left Social Democrats (SPO) and the centre-right People's Party (OVP) have argued for two years over the future of the neutral country's military, with the SPO lobbying for a professional army and the OVP insisting on keeping the draft.

The parties have now agreed to put the issue to voters in a referendum, the outcome of which is hard to predict.

Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Austria. Addendum: Views on conclusions and/or recommendations, voluntary commitments and replies presented by the State under review



93.47 Austria does not accept the recommendation.
The option of performing the military service starting at the age of 17 is based solely on the voluntary enlistment of the person concerned and requires the consent of his legal guardian. Neither the direct participation in combat nor the voluntary enlistment for military service in international operations is admissible. Under these provisions, full respect of the entire Convention on the Rights of the Child including its Optional Protocol is guaranteed.


Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Austria



“93.The following recommendations will be examined by Austria which will provide responses in due time, but no later than the seventeenth session of the Human Rights Council in June 2011:


93.47. Raise the age for all enrolments into armed forces to the age of at least 18 years in line with the CRC recommendation (Ghana, Slovakia);”



Austria: SPÖ makes shock U-turn on conscription

Austrian Independent, 5 October 2010

Leading Social Democrats (SPÖ) have spoken out in favour of a referendum about conscription in what is regarded as a sensational U-turn on the issue.

SPÖ Vienna Mayor Michael Häupl suggested yesterday (Mon) people should decide on whether young Austrians should still have to serve in the army. Around 25,000 men aged 18 or 19 receive a call-up for a six-month obligatory service after finishing school or a traineeship every year.

Conscientious objection: Legal practices and frameworks among EU member states

In this presentation I will give an overview of the right to conscientious objection, its legal practices and frameworks in the 27 European Union member states. Before I do so, I want to step back a bit and have a brief look at the existing international standards about the right to conscientious objection, as these standards allow us to put the practices in the EU member states into a perspective.



  • The right to conscientious objection is only recognised for conscripts, prior to call-up, or more than three years after the end of military service.
  • Those who joined the military as volunteers (professional soldiers) do not have a right to conscientious objection.

Military recruitment

Austria maintains conscription, although professional soldiers make up almost 50% of the Austrian armed forces.

Conscientious Objection to Military Service: Issues for the Country Report Task Forces - AUSTRIA

Submission to the 89th Session of the Human Rights Committee: March 2007


Conscientious objection to military service has been recognised in law for as long as obligatory military service has existed in the modern Austrian state. There are however a number of serious concerns with the details of the current legislative provisions.


Under the 1919 Treaty of Versailles, Austria was prohibited from maintaining conscription. From 1938 to 1945 conscription into the German Army was imposed.

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