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.

As you may already know, Andreas Speck, who has been the Right to Refuse to Kill programme worker at the WRI office since 2001, has decided to move on, and will be leaving the post at the end of this year. In his time in the WRI office, Andreas has shaped the programme, and to a great extent - WRI as a whole, and has done an outstanding job. But we'll have the opportunity to thank Andreas for all that he's done properly at a later occasion. For now we would like to introduce to you the new Right to Refuse to Kill programme worker, who will join the WRI office staff in September.

After we advertised the vacancy earlier in the year, we received an unprecedented number of applications - over 80 - many of them from excellent candidates. However, one candidate impressed us more than all the others, with her intelligence, personality and deep understanding of the many complex issues that are at stake in WRI's work. Her name is Hannah Brock, and let her now briefly present herself to you.

Talk by Andreas Speck, staff at War Resisters' International, at the launch of Cynthia Cockburn's book ‘Antimilitarism: Political and Gender Dynamics of Peace Movements’ at Housmans Bookshop, 21 April 2012

First of all I want to thank Cynthia for giving me the opportunity to say something today, although I haven't read the whole book yet.

On 12 April 2012, Emad El Dafrawi declared his conscientious objection to military service, and thus became the second publicly known conscientious objector in the country, after Maikel Nabil Sanad. In his conscientious objection declaration, Emad El Dafrawi writes: "I’m pacifist and anti-militarist, which means that the military activities including holding weapons and using violence contradict my beliefs. I’m a conscientious objector to the military service. I refuse to obey military orders and I consider all wars to be crimes."

Andreas Speck, War Resisters' International

Presentation in Seoul, 21 March 2012

In 2004, both, the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court denied that conscientious objection is a human right, protected under the Korean constitution. Although the National Human Rights Commission later recommended the recognition of the right to conscientious objection, this did not lead to a legal change. The election of President Lee Myung-bak put an end to all hopes for legislative change.

On 2 February 2012, the Council of Europe's Commissioner for Human Rights, Thomas Hammarberg, demanded that the right to conscientious objection to military service should be guaranteed in all parts of Europe. In his blog post, he stated:

"People should not be imprisoned when their religious or other convictions prevent them from doing military service. Instead they should be offered a genuinely civilian alternative. This is now the established European standard, respected in most countries – but there are some unfortunate exceptions."

Following the Grand Chamber judgment in the case of Bayatyan v Armenia from July 2011, in which the European Court of Human Rights for the first time recognised the right to conscientious objection as a right recognised under Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights (see CO-Update No 67, August 2011), several chambers of the European Court have no consolidated this new jurisprudence of the Court.

Job opening at WRI

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War Resisters' International is looking for a Right to Refuse to Kill programme worker (full-time)

The RRTK worker will share the responsibility for organising work from WRI's international office and have specific responsibility for running WRI's international work on conscientious objection and military recruitment. A commitment to pacifism, good computer skills, and language skills are essential.

Salary: £24,136.26 per annum.
Deadline for applications: 31 May 2012
start date: 1 September 2012

London, 26 January 2012


EGYPT: War Resisters' International welcomes the overdue release in Cairo of pacifist blogger Maikel Nabil

Maikel Nabil Sanad after his 302 days of an unjust detention aiming to suppress criticism of the Egyptian military. Detained on 29 March, Maikel was sentenced in April by a military court to three years' imprisonment for insulting the People’s Assembly, the Shura Council or any State Authority, or the Army or the Courts", and article 102, "spreading false information". This verdict was annulled but a new trial in December, also in front of a military court, sentenced Maikel to two years.

History repeats itself, the same way I objected to compulsory military service last year, this year I boycott litigation before the military officers.

Mr Officers… I say Mr Officers and not Mr Judge, because the judge before anything has to have the characteristic of independence, whereas military officers are a branch of the executive authority. That’s why you are an officer, not a judge, no matter what names, titles or descriptions you were called.

International Conference Germany 2012

Darmstadt, 8-10 June 2012

War Resisters International are looking for individuals and organisations to collaborate on and contribute to its 2012 conference 'Countering the Militarisation of Youth'. One of the aims of the project is to create a snap shot of the ways in which youth are being increasingly militarised, to that end we would welcome hearing from you about developments in your area.

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