International Conscientious Objection Day

Lots of people standing with peace flags and banners
International Conscientious Objection Day in Seoul, 2017

Every year on 15th May we celebrate International Conscientious Objection Day.

This year we're focusing on South Korea, the country that imprisons more conscientious objectors than the rest of the world put together. Right now there's over 300 young people in jail, with 18 months sentences. But there's good news. Currently, there's no substitute service in South Korea, so if you don't want to go to the army, you go to jail. But the current President pledged to change this in his election manifesto, and the National Human Rights Commission of Korea has voted repeatedly to recommend that the South Korean government institute an alternative service system. See our recent news story:

On 15th May we'll be asking the South Korean government to take the next step, finally recognise the rights of conscientious objectors, and stop sending them to prison.

How to take action

  • Post your support on social media using the #freeKoreanCOs. On Twitter and Facebook you can tag World Without War, the CO support campaign in South Korea;
  • Come back to this page in late April to download a postcard that you can send to Korean embassies in your countries, demanding the release of conscientious objectors in jail;
  • On 15th May, on our website you'll be able to send a CO-Alert email to the South Korean government demanding the release of the prisoners. Sign up here to receive a reminder;
  • Join or run an event to enable others to take action! This might be a stall outside the Korean embassy, a street action to raise awareness (and give out postcards!), or a letter writing group to send messages of solidarity to those in jail (you'll find a list of World Without War-supported COs in jail in Korea here). Contact us for more ideas!

Check back soon for more updates.

Confirmed events

Berlin, Germany

15th of May 2018: 4pm-6pm. In front of the Embassy of the Republic of Korea. Stülerstr. 10, 10787 Berlin. More info here.

London, UK

15h May: meet at 12 noon at Tavistock Square for this annual celebration of conscientious objectors. More info

Manchester, UK

15th May 2018: 5pm - 6pm. Outside St. Ann’s Church, St. Ann’s Square, M2 7LF. More info here.

Seoul, Republic of Korea

12th May: cycle parade with World Without War.

Seoul, Republic of Korea

15th May: launch of the Korea version of Conscientious Objection: A Practical Companion for Movements.


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Programmes & Projects