Welcome to this issue of CO-Update. As you might have noticed, there was no CO-Update at the beginning of February, as all of WRI's programme staff has been in India until 1 February, and it has not been possible to get an issue of CO-Update out quickly after our return. This issue of CO-Update is therefore a double issue for February and March. We will be back to our usual monthly schedule from April on.
Two trials of conscientious objectors in Greece prompted a joint statement of War Resisters' International, the European Bureau for Conscientious Objection (EBCO), and the Greek section of Amnesty International.
There have been several reports in recent months that Afghanistan might move to introduce conscription in the near future, to increase the strength of its Armed Forces. According to BBC News, Afghan President Hamid Karzai has told a conference of the world's top defence officials in Germany that he is considering introducing conscription. The Afghan president said at the summit in Munich he wants to build an army and police force of 300,000 by 2012.
According to a report in BalkanInsight.com, Serbia's minister of defence Dragan Sutanovac has announced that compulsory military service will be suspended and the professionalisation of the Serbian Army be completed next year.
In an interview with the daily Blic, Sutanovac expressed his belief that the country's president Boris Tadic will be in a position to suspend compulsory military service based on a report given by the defence ministry.
According to the Belarusian Telegraph Agency, President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko gave an instruction to develop a law on alternative service. This instruction followed a report on alternative service presented by State Secretary of the Security Council Leonid Maltsev on 18 February.
The links between militarisation - and especially military service - and masculinities is the theme of a new text by WRI's Right to Refuse to Kill programme worker Andreas Speck. In his article, Andreas Speck argues that refusing militarism is not possible without refusing hegemonic masculinity, as both are very closely linked, and that, in the words of Jeff Hearn, “it is an understatement to say that men, militarism, and the military are historically, profoundly, and blatantly interconnected”.