The international study conference on Countering the Militarisation of Youth, which took place from 8-10 June 2012 in Darmstadt, Germany, was a great success. With the conference we made an important step towards more cooperation and exchange among groups working on militarisation of youth in a range of topical areas and countries. For the conference, we brought together 65 participants from 14 countries and four continents, which in itself has been a great achievement. Our discussions enriched our understanding of militarisation, and helped to inspire us how to resist this militarisation.
The conference developed several proposal on how to improve our understanding of the militarisation of youth, and exchange experiences of resistance:
Educating Against Militarism / peace education
The idea is to collect and share information on peace education, including:
- specific materials, resources of interest, including experiences using those materials in classrooms
- contacts of speakers who can go into schools, such as migrants from a conflict region, who can be resource persons for lessons or a speaking tour.
Winning the war of images
The creativity of the peace movement is such that we should rise to this challenge by producing designs and images that can also speak to young people which can then be distributed through social media and other networks in order to cast new light on the issues of militarisation within the circles that young people are familiar with. Too often lack of time, or necessary skills prevents activists from producing quality materials, and this proposal aims to also tackle this issue by providing a gallery or database of visual resources in accessible file formats and under creative commons licensing such that they can be adapted.
Conscientious objection to military registration
This was suggested by a mostly German group, based on the situation in Germany, where data is passed on automatically by the registry office to the military, but where the law provides a right to “opt-out” of this data transfer.
The idea is a campaign of conscientious objection to the (automatic) draft registration, but it also became clear that for an international campaign more research on how (automatic) draft registration functions would be needed.
Countering militarisation of universities
In Germany, there will be a week of action against militarisation of universities from 24-29 September 2012 (more information – in German – at http://www.dfg-vk.de/thematisches/schulfrei-fuer-die-bundeswehr/2012/754). At present, the idea is to produce appealing visual materials and posters to promote the week of action, but also with simple messages to raise the issue. Nina Eisenhardt is working with others in Germany to produce materials (not only in German), which can be shared. These posters/materials should be displayed at as many universities as possible in Germany and other countries.
The discussion at the networking meeting following the study conference suggested to share an evaluation of the German week of action, and to possibly coordinate and call for an international week of action in 2013.
Military out of schools
This proposal focuses on the militarisation of schools, and what can be done about it. It became clear that more information is needed, not only about how schools and militarisation are being militarised, but also about the legal framework governing this militarisation – e.g. about a schools right not to allow the military into school, etc.
Presently, the objective is to collect information on:
- militarisation of schools
- actions against military in schools, including NVDA, conscientious objection of students/teachers/parents, etc.
- creating of alternatives, such as alternative lesson plans that teachers could use.
War Resisters' International will continue to expand its work on the militarisation of youth, and more information will be available at http://wri-irg.org/programmes/militarisationofyouth.