Hannah from the Right to Refuse to Kill programme was in Athens this month for the launch of the European Bureau for Conscientious Objection's report on the status of conscientious objection in Europe.
A 'citizen's initiative' campaign in Finland is calling for the end of conscription. The “Ohi on” (“It’s Over”) signature drive is backed by WRI affiliate the Committee of 100 and the Union of Conscientious Objectors (AKL). Any civic initiative that gathers a minimum of 50,000 signatures must be considered by Parliament.
We were glad to read recently of the declaration of Brandon Toy – a conscientious objector to war work. Previously a soldier, and now a 'defense contractor' with General Dynamics Land Systems, Toy's declaration says 'I have always believed that if every foot soldier threw down his rifle war would end. I hereby throw mine down.'
Brandon's position is a powerful reminder that conscientious objection goes far beyond military service, but can encompass rejection of involvement in war, and preparations for war, at many levels.
The case of Murat Kanatli, a CO in Cyprus who declared his conscientious objection in 2009 and has since refused each year to participate in the annual compulsory military exercises in the northern part of Cyprus, has been heard in the Constitutional Court.
Although the full text of the ruling has not yet been published, it appears that the Court has ruled that the unavailability of a substitute to military service constitutes an interference with the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion safeguarded in the Article 23 of the Constitution, and that the duty is upon the legislator to provide in laws and regulations for alternative service to military service. However, the Court went on to state that it does not constitute a conflict with the Constitution.
Plans for conscription to be suspended in Taiwan have been delayed. This is due to 'recruitment difficulties'. The Ministry of Defence have apparently experienced difficulties recruiting sufficient volunteers in the past 20 months since the plan was approved the plan last year and has been forced to defer implementation.
The project was originally scheduled for completion at the end of 2014, with a formal launch at the start of 2015. It is likely to be delayed for at least one year.
Ukraine is now in the process of the final recruitment drive during it's system of military conscription. As we reported in a previous CO Alert, this is the second time that a cessation of the draft has been announced in Ukraine. This time it seems that this will happen.
President Viktor Yanukovych on 1st October at the International Peacekeeping and Security Center in the Lviv region as he revealed military reforms aimed at the creation of a "professional army."
In our last CO Update we reported on a Swiss referendum on the future of the draft. On 22nd September, 73% of voters opted to maintain conscription.
This is the third time the country has voted down similar proposals by the Group for Switzerland Without an Army: Both a 1989 idea to abolish the army altogether, and a 2001 referendum to replace it with a peace corps, were also rejected.
The United Nations Human Rights Council have passed a resolution on conscientious objection to military service. This is the first substantive resolution on the subject from the Council, and goes beyond previous resolutions from the Commission on Human Rights (which the Council replaced). It was adopted by consensus.