- The right to conscientious objection is not recognised in times of war.
- It is unclear whether Slovenia recognises the right to conscientious objection for professional soldiers.
According to Article 123 of the constitution, “participation in the national defence is compulsory for citizens within the limits and in the manner provided by law”1.
Slovenia suspended conscription in 2003, nine month earlier than originally planned2.
Conscription is only suspended in peacetime3. It seems that male Slovenian citizens still are automatically registered for military duty, according to the Military Duty Act, and a “familiarisation briefing” is supposed to give information on military duties in peacetime and
in the immediate threat of war. In addition, such a familiarisation briefing includes information on the possibility of voluntary training in the SAF, joining the contract reserve component, and of a
career path in the SAF. According to the report of the Ministry of Defence, in 2005 “out of a total 12,720 candidates born in 1987, 10,353, or 81.4 percent showed up for the familiarisation
briefing; the rest of them were notified by mail”4.
Slovenia expects to have a professional force of up to 8,500 men by 20105.
As part of its recruitment efforts, the Slovenian Armed Forces offer a three-month voluntary military service for men and women, which is available since January 20046.
Conscientious objection for conscripts
Article 46 of the constitution of the Republic of Slovenia guarantees the right to conscientious
objection. It reads: “Conscientious objection shall be permissible in cases provided by law where this does not limit the rights and freedoms of others.”7
Article 123 paragraph 2 of the constitution says: “Citizens who for their religious,
philosophical or humanitarian convictions are not willing to perform military duties, must be given the opportunity to participate in the national defence in some other manner.”8
As conscription is presently suspended, the right to conscientious objection for conscripts is
only relevant in case conscription would again be enforced.
The right to conscientious objection was legally recognised since Slovenia became an independent country in 1992. Since 1995 the length of substitute service was in fact the same as military service (7 months). Slovenia was thus one of the few European countries where substitute service and military service had the same duration. Slovenian CO legislation was liberal in other
respects as well, as there were no time limits for submitting CO applications and applications could be made by both serving conscripts and reservists9. However, there are no separate legal provisions on the right to conscientious objection in wartime10.
Conscientious objection for professional soldiers
It is not clear if there are legal provisions for conscientious objection for professional soldiers.
The constitution does not limit the right to conscientious objection to conscripts only. A study published by the Council of Europe in 2001 suggests that professional soldiers may apply for CO status11. No further information is available and it remains unclear if there
is an application procedure for professional soldiers who wish to be discharged from the armed forces for reasons of conscientious objection.
When conscription was enforced, the right to conscientious objection was legally regulated by the Military Service Act. This law actually only applied to conscripts so it provides no legal basis for the recognition of the right to conscientious objection for professional soldiers.
The rules for leaving the Armed Forces prematurely are presently not known.
Draft evasion and desertion
No information available.
of Defence: Annual Report of the MoD for 2005,
accessed 28 April 2008
of the right of conscientious objection to military service in
Council of Europe member states, Report Committee on Legal Affairs
and Human Rights, Doc. 8809 (Revised), 4 May 2001
The report states, referring to the recognition of the right to
conscientious objection for permanent members of the armed forces,
"Following Slovenia's example, this possibility should be
extended to permanent members of the armed forces". This
conclusion is based on information provided by the Slovenian
government. As the text of the government response is not publicly
available, it is not known which information was exactly submitted,
and if the conclusion in the report may result from a
misinterpretation of the information provided by the Slovenian
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.
Yugoslavia passed a new law on the Yuguslav army in January 2002, but this law still doesn't include any regulation on conscientious objection. Conscientious objectors can only perform a service without arms within the Yugoslav army - clearly not satisfactory for conscientious objectors. Media reports lead to quite some confusion. Some media wrote about a "military civilian service", and some even presented this option as a genuine civilian service, so that many conscripts got quite confused.
1.The Assembly recalls its Resolution 984 (1992) on the crisis in the former Yugoslavia, its Resolution 1019 (1994) on the humanitarian situation and needs of the refugees, displaced persons and other vulnerable groups in the countries of the former Yugoslavia and its Recommendation 1218 (1993) on establishing an international court to try serious violations of international humanitarian law.
2.It refers to the European Parliament resolution on deserters from the armed forces of states in the former Yugoslavia adopted on 28 October 1993.
On 4-6 March, 19 people from 10 European countries met to discuss the situation of draft resisters and deserters seeking asylum. This has become a major issue in Europe with the large numbers of refugees from the war in former-Yugoslavia, especially as several governments insist that Croatia and Serbia are not part of the war zone.