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.

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.

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.

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.

Forum 18 say: 

'Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia continue to feel the impact of their liquidation and the nationwide ban on their exercise of freedom of religion or belief... Military call-up offices have denied several army conscripts the option of alternative civilian service. Jehovah's Witnesses also experience increased law enforcement harassment and incidents of vandalism and violence across the country.

Cuba

Placheolder image
Updated October 2017; researcher Jimmy Roque Martínez. Translation: Catherine Gregory.


1 Conscription

conscription exists

Conscription or military service in Cuba is supported in the constitution by article 65, which establishes that:

In advance of International Human Rights Day on 10th December, the European Bureau for Conscientious Objection has published “Conscientious Objection to Military Service in Europe 2017”. “In 2017, efforts to recognize the rights of conscientious objectors to military service have taken once more a negative track in Europe”, EBCO President Friedhelm Schneider said.

Today is Prisoners for Peace Day, when War Resisters' International and our members remember those imprisoned for their work for peace, and write to them in jail. Please join us!

The European Bureau for Conscientious Objection (EBCO) held its 2017 General Assembly on 4th November in the UN buffer zone in Cyprus. The Assembly followed a press conference and a public forum held with the participation of conscientious objectors and peace activists from across Europe, as well as from the Republic of Cyprus and the northern part of the island.

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