In November 2008, WRI Council member and MEP
Tobias Pflüger published a new publication on "Professional soldiers
and the right to conscientious objection in the European Union",
based on research of War Resisters' International. The publication
provides an overview of the present state of the right to conscientious
objection in the European Union, including the candidate countries
Croatia, Turkey, and FYROM (Macedonia). It was produced in close
co-operation with War Resisters' International (WRI). It builts on the
global survey on the situation of conscientious objectors by War
Resisters' International from 1998 and their update by Quaker Council
for European Affairs (QCEA) from 2005. For the publication the survey
has undergone a major update; it has been reworked and brought up to
date, as the situation in many countries changed a lot since 2005.
For the first time this publication attempts to systematically also
provide information on the right to conscientious objection for
contract and professional soldiers. In became clear that on this issue
there is a lack of information. Only five countries (Austria, Denmark,
Ireland, Hungary, and Turkey) replied to a questionnaire sent by War
Resisters' International to all embassies of the relevant countries in
November 2007, and even those replies often were not satisfactory in
relation to the information given, and did not contribute much to
understanding the situation.
With the trend towards the professionalisation of the military in
Europe, another development occurs mainly unnoticed: the right to
conscientious objection, which has been widely recognised in the
European Union, is being weakened. Generally, it is not available to
professional soldiers. Also the implementation of the right to
conscientious objection for conscripts in the different members and
candidate countries does often not comply with international standards.
With the increased use of a professionalised military within the
framework of NATO, the EU or the United Nations (or within ad-hoc
coalitions), the right to conscientious objection is more important
than ever for those soldiers who need it.
The publication is available free of charge from War Resisters'
International and the office of Tobias Pflüger MEP. However, there will
be a charge for postage and packaging. Please contact the WRI office
for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org.