Right to Refuse to Kill

War Resisters' International's programme The Right to Refuse to Kill combines a wide range of activities to support conscientious objectors individually, as well as organised groups and movements for conscientious objection.

Our main publications are CO-Alerts (advocacy alerts sent out whenever a conscientious objector is prosecuted) and CO-Updates (a bimonthly look at developments in conscientious objection around the world).

We maintain the CO Guide - A Conscientious Objector's Guide to the International Human Rights System, which can help COs to challenge their own governments, and protect themselves from human rights abuses.

Information about how nation states treat conscientious objectors can be found in our World Survey of Conscientious Objection and recruitment.

More info on the programme is available here.

On 15th May - International Conscientious Objection Day - War Resisters' International drew attention to the 250+ young people in jail in South Korea for refusing military service. Hundreds of people sent messages of protest to the Korean authorities and messages of support to conscientious objectors in South Korea!

The bill changes the law so that only students that agree in advance to sign a contract committing to serving in the armed forces for two years after they graduate will be granted a temporary exemption from conscription. The proposal inspired large protests at Yerevan State University, where 500 students went on strike on 7th November.

On 23 February the Helsinki appeal court decided to repeal a sentence given to a total objector by a district court. The objector said that his pacifist convictions were a reason for his conscientious objection. He had been sentenced for "refusal from civilian service". The appeal court decided that sentencing him would be discriminatory compared to Jehovah's Witnesses preferential treatment. Jehovah's Witnesses are exempt from military and civilian service in peace time.

Take action on 15th May to support over 250 young people in jail in South Korea, and demand that conscientious objectors not be imprisoned in future.

For many years, it looked like obligatory military service was on the way out. But in the last five years, the picture has changed: Norway has extended conscription for women; Sweden has reintroduced conscription for all; Ukraine, Georgia, Lithuania and Kuwait have reintroduced conscription for men after short hiatuses; Qatar and the United Arab Emirates have introduced conscription for the first time. We look at why governments are turning to compulsion in filling their armies, and what this means for pacifist movements.

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