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.

Recent updates from South Korea increase hopes for the recognition of the right to conscientious objection in the country. Since our last update, three more conscientious objectors, who had been indicted for their refusal to serve in the military, have been found not guilty by their district court. Meanwhile, the Government and the President Moon Jae-in, who promised to introduce an alternative civilian service during his election campaign, has continued to face pressure from human rights groups for the recognition of the right.

The Supreme Court of the Russian Federation has banned Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia on the grounds that they are an extremist organisation. The liquidation ruling, made on 20th April 2017 and upheld on 17th July 2017, means that the Jehovah's Witness Administrative Centre and all 395 regional organisations of Jehovah’s Witnesses are subject to liquidation, and their property can now be seized by the state. The ruling affects tens of thousands, including many conscientious objectors who are Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Conscription has officially been re-introduced in Kuwait following the enforcement of the the new mandatory military service law approved by the cabinet in May 2015.

According to new law, which came into effect in April this year, all Kuwaiti men who turned 18 on 10th May 2017 and afterwards must register for conscription within 60 days of their new age.

When conscripted, they will serve 12 months divided in two phases – four months for training and eight months for military service.

Syria is going through the deadliest conflict that the 21st century has witnessed so far, with half a million people killed, over a million injured, and more than 12 million displaced. Millions of Syrians escaped from war and sought asylum in other countries. In this CO-Update, we are sharing the stories of two of those who could escape from conscription in Syria, and are currently based in Germany.

Haiti has started recruiting for its newly reestablished army. The Defense Minister Herve Denis said they plan to recruit 500 soldiers as part of the first recruitment drive, but they might need to reduce this number due to budgetary problems. He said the duties of the soldiers will be rebuilding after natural disasters and monitoring borders for smuggled contraband.

On the other hand, critics questioned the need for such a force in the country, which has long been suffering from the impacts of poverty, as well as having a history of military coups.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the libertarian antimilitarist group Ni Casco Ni Uniforme (Neither Helmet nor Uniform - NCNU). NCNU emerged as the NCNU Conscientious Objection Group, originating in Santiago de Chile in the context of democratic transition. Compulsory military service existed then and now in Chile. There was (and is still not) any law protecting conscientious objection to counterbalance this.

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