Welcome to the April issue of co-update, this time published even a few days early, due to our participation in the protests against the NATO summit in Strasbourg from 1-5 April 2009 (see Upcoming events below).
On 18 March, several Colombian groups submitted a claim of unconstitutionality of article 27 of the Colombian recruitment law from 1993 to the Colombian Constitutional Court. The claim was submitted by the Public Interest Group of the Law Faculty of the Universidad de Los Andes, Acción Colectiva de Objetores y Objetoras de Conciencia (ACOOC), CIVIS and the Observatorio de Constitucionalidad de la Universidad de los Andes.
On 19 March, the Swedish government announced that Sweden will end conscription as part of a package of military reforms. With this move, a tradition of more than 100 years of conscription will come to an end. "Staff support will be modernized so that voluntary service constitutes the foundation for the staffing of the force instead of compulsory military service," the defence ministry said in a statement. Ministry spokeswoman Sofia Krigsman said the government planned to shelve the draft in mid-2010 and bring it back only if the country's security situation worsened.
China Post reported on 13 March that Taiwan is to abolish conscription by 2014. Minister of National Defense, Chen Chao-ming, announced that Taiwan's military will become an all-volunteer force within five years. Speaking to a military committee under the Legislative Yuan, Minster Chen explained that the process would commence in 2011 and by 2014 all divisions of the R.O.C. Armed Forces will be filled with career soldiers instead of conscripts. However, a more detailed look at the announcement reveals that conscription won't be abolished completely.
The Cypriot Council of Ministers rejected a plan to reduce military service from 25 to 19 months, Cyprus Mail reported on 11 March 2009. The proposal was axed on the basis that the timing is not right for such a scheme, while the Defence Ministry blamed the stance taken by the majority of the parties for the proposal’s failure.
“Due to the stance taken by the majority of the political parties it is very difficult for the Ministry to move forward, because we do not wish to do something with which the political scene disagrees,” Costas Papacostas said according to Cyprus Mail.
During the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) at the Human Rights Council, Uzbekistan insisted that conscientious objection will only be recognised for "members of registered religious organizations, the faith of which prevent the use of weapons and service in the armed forces".
NATO will meet on 3 and 4 April 2009 for it's 60th anniversary summit in Strasbourg, France, and Baden Baden, Germany. Groups from all over Europe are preparing protest actions from 1-5 April 2009, which will include:
* Protest camps from 1-5 April 2009
* Days of action on 1-2 April 2009
* A counter-conference on 3 and 5 April 2009
* Activities in Baden Baden on 3 April 2009
* Mass blockades of the NATO summit in Strasbourg on 4 April 2009
* An international demonstration in Strasbourg on 4 April 2009.