Conscientious objection

New Book: Conscientious Objection to Military Service in International Human Rights Law

Since the 1950s, the right to conscientious objection to military service in international human rights law has excited the interest of both non-governmental and inter-governmental organizations in a variety of contexts. This book examines the subject, beginning with an exploration of the concept of conscience and its evolution with a view toward understanding the meaning and potential scope of the right to conscientious objection from a legal perspective. It also describes the different categories into which conscientious objectors can be divided, explain the differences between these categories, and investigate how these differences are interpreted at national and international levels. It then investigates the right to conscientious objection as a legitimate exercise of freedom of thought, conscience, and religion in international human rights law. In this regard, this book deeply analyzes human rights law at both the international and regional level, examining UN, European, and Inter-American mechanisms.

A Campaign to End the Indefinite National Service Slavery in Eritrea

A campaign has been launched by Eritreans in Diaspora to stop slavery in Eritrea. They regard military service as slavery since 20,000 Eritreans aged between 17 and 50 years are forced to enrol in national service each year, “required to work for unspecified periods, in slave-like conditions”, or else face incarceration in Eritrea's notorious prison system, where detainees are seldom released.

Venezuela: Reform of the Conscription Law is unconstitutional

Rafael Uzcátegui

In the National Assembly, a project to reform the Conscription and Military Enlistment Law is currently being discussed. The law has been included in the legislative package considered high priority by the heads of parliament, having been approved in the first debate of 18/06/2013. The project presented, however, is unconstitutional, because it violates what is stated in article 134 of the Magna Carta - that: “Every person, in accordance with the law, has the right to carry out civilian or military service necessary for the defence, preservation and development of the country, or in the face of public disaster. Nobody can be subjected to forced conscription (…)”.

War Resisters' International's work in Colombia

Foro internacionalForo internacionalHannah and Igor recently returned from a trip to Colombia, where they participated in forums and workshops that explored the legal and political tools that can be used to promote conscientious objection.

WRI: campaigning and networking in Colombia

Commission launch, Bogotá, 1st NovemberCommission launch, Bogotá, 1st NovemberThis is write-up of the trip made by Hannah Brock (Right to Refuse to Kill programme worker) and Igor Seke (of the Right to Refuse to Kill committee), from 28th October – 8th November 2013. We were joined by Rachel Brett, of the Quaker United Nations Office [QUNO] (and member of the Right to Refuse to Kill committee), from 30th October – 3rd November.

Spanish version of guide to the international human rights system launched in Bogota

The Spanish language edition of a resource that will help conscientious objectors use international human rights mechanisms was launched this week in Colombia, as part of a forum on the right to conscientious objection to obligatory military service. The public forum, instigated by Acción colectiva de objetores y objetoras de conciencia (ACOOC), explored the political and legal tools that can promote conscientious objection.

Cyprus: small step forward as constitutional court rules on conscientious objection

Related peace activists: 

The case of Murat Kanatli, a CO in Cyprus who declared his conscientious objection in 2009 and has since refused each year to participate in the annual compulsory military exercises in the northern part of Cyprus, has been heard in the Constitutional Court.

Support for Greek COs and European CO Report Launch

Hannah from the Right to Refuse to Kill programme was in Athens this month for the launch of the European Bureau for Conscientious Objection's report on the status of conscientious objection in Europe.

New Human Rights Council resolution on CO

The United Nations Human Rights Council have passed a resolution on conscientious objection to military service. This is the first substantive resolution on the subject from the Council, and goes beyond previous resolutions from the Commission on Human Rights (which the Council replaced). It was adopted by consensus.

Conscientious objection to war work

We were glad to read recently of the declaration of Brandon Toy – a conscientious objector to war work. Previously a soldier, and now a 'defense contractor' with General Dynamics Land Systems, Toy's declaration says 'I have always believed that if every foot soldier threw down his rifle war would end. I hereby throw mine down.'

Brandon's position is a powerful reminder that conscientious objection goes far beyond military service, but can encompass rejection of involvement in war, and preparations for war, at many levels.

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