This CO Update comes a month after I returned from South Africa, where WRI held its first ever International Conference in Africa. The conference was an amazing event, and will have impacts on the work of the Right to Refuse to Kill programme for years to come. We made contacts with new movements for conscientious objection and against conscription and militarisation, especially in Africa.
One of the most effective ways to prepare for war is to prepare the minds and bodies of young people to take part in it.
War Resisters' International's Countering the Militarisation of Youth project has launched antimili-youth.net - a great resource for anyone who wants to find out more about how young people are taught to regard armed violence, and the military and its values, as positive and uncontroversial. It is the first international site giving an overview of these issues.
It allows groups and individuals to easily upload their own information on the strategies used in different contexts to militarise young people, as well as reports on their work to disrupt these processes.
The Kurdish autonomous administrations in Syria have adopted a law in July that obliges families living in the region to send one of their 18-30 year-old members to "defence duty", which lasts for six months, either continuously or intermittently over one year.
In April UN human rights chief Navi Pillay said that more than 9,000 child soldiers have been fighting in South Sudan's civil war, recruited by both the army and rebel forces. These numbers account for These reports are based on observations of children with armed groups, children wearing military uniforms and carrying weapons, and children undergoing military training.
Back in June, conscientious objector Mario Andrés Hurtado Cardozo was granted a tutela (a writ for protection, which should prevent him from being recruited by the military) by the municipality of Soacha, close to Bogotá. Mario was the very first non-religious conscientious objector to receive a tutela in this way. The magistrate ordered military district 59, located in the municipality of Soacha, to resolve his military situation within a maximum of two months. Mario's next struggle is to complete and graduate from his degree with his libreta militar – the card given the conscripts when they finish their time in the military. Being unable to graduate from university is just one of the discriminations that faces those without a libreta militar. You can read his conscientious objection declaration from 2010 (in Spanish) here.
In the last months in Israel a group of Druze Palestinian war refusers has publicly launched their campaign, reservists and new conscripts have declared their refusal to take part in Israeli military operations in Gaza, and resistance to the call up of the ultra-Orthodox Jews (Haredim) continues.
In one province in Mozambique, the great majority of young people called up for military service "did not turn up", reports O Pais.
By law, all Mozambicans (men and women) must register for military service in the year of their 18th birthday. The armed forces (FADM) then selects those it wishes to recruit and submits them to medical tests to check whether they are "fit to join the military".
Those who have not responded to the call up have 30 days to justify their absence before they are considered deserters.
The last CO Update reported plans in UAE to introduce conscription. This has now begun. Conscripts start at age 17, with high school students who have failed their last year of schooling delaying their conscription until they have completed final exams in the next academic year. The military training centres for conscripts can accommodate between 5,000 and 7,000 people. Conscription began on July 13.
Conscientious objectors to military service face a number of serious and negative implications for their refusal to perform military service, when the right of conscientious objection is not recognised in their country. The Quaker United Nations Office have released a report examining the scope of these implications, including include prosecution and imprisonment (sometimes repeated), as well as fines.
Militaries across the world gain access to young people through education systems.
It gives them an extraordinary chance to shape every generation's perception of military violence and lay the groundwork for future recruitment.
25 - 31 October sees the first international week of action for military-free education and research: a concerted effort of antimilitarist action across the world to raise awareness and challenge of the role the military have in education, and to give voice to alternatives.