In this edition of CO-Update you'll see evidence of WRI using international mechanisms, such as the Human Rights Council and the recently-appointed Special Rapporteur for human rights in Eritrea.
Whilst these tools may have some use, we recognise the limits of them, and continue to support and offer solidarity to individual conscientious objectors, and movements for conscientious objection around the world.
In January, in a referendum on compulsory military service, nearly 60 percent of Austrians voted to maintain the status quo and maintain conscription, where men have to serve in the army for six months or in the civilian service for nine months when they reach the age of 18. Turnout in the referendum was slightly more than 50%.
This month, War Resisters' International responded to a request for information from the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on conscientious objection to military service, towards a quadrennial analytical report on conscientious objection to military service that will presented to the Human Rights Council.
Our submission covered new developments, best practice and remaining challenges. It can be read in full here: www.wri-irg.org/node/21269
Recently, two nations have re-announced a cessation in conscription, having postponed previous plans to abolish conscription.
Ukranian Defense Minister Pavlo Lebedev has said that military conscription will be suspended in 2013. The press service of the Defense Ministry quoted Lebedev as saying that “In 2013, the structure and the system of management of the Armed Forces will be revised, military conscription will be suspended simultaneously with the transfer to the recruitment of army under contracts as in leading countries of the world".
Last autumn, the United Nations Human Rights Council appointed a Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation on Eritrea - Sheila Keetharuth.
WRI will be submitting information to Sheila on the reality of military service in Eritrea, and the lack of rights for conscientious objectors. To do this, we will be gathering evidence from Eritreans now living in the UK, Israel, South Africa, Germany and other countries.