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.

With new sources of information, we've been able to update the prisoners for peace list with hundreds of more names from Singapore and South Korea, primarily Jehovah's Witnesses. The process of adding names of conscientious objectors to our database is ongoing. They include prison addresses, so please consider writing to an imprisoned CO over the year, not just on Prisoners for Peace Day!

There are over 700 COs in prison in South Korea at present.

See the full list here.

Conscientious Objection: A Practical Companion for Movements is now available online here.

You can also buy a paperback version.

This book is intended as a practical companion for conscientious objection movements and all those whose work forms part of the continuum of war resistance. 

It has been written by activists who are campaigning against all kinds of injustice, all over the world.  Learning from the lived experience of these activists, the aim is to help movements work together, surmount the external challenges they face, and enhance the concept of conscientious objection, using it in new and innovative ways - such as against war profiteering, or the militarisation of youth.  The book also has a specific focus on gender, and the often invisible role of gender, both in the war machine, and in the movements which oppose it. 

To read this book is to be encouraged, not just to notice gender and the other power structures upholding militarism, but to actively work to undermine them - and in doing so, to start dismantling militarism itself.

Conscientious objector Visa Savolainen was one of those detained COs who received letters of solidarity in December 2015 on Prisoners for Peace Day. Visa wrote a reflection on his blog on the joy of receiving these.

International Prisoners for Peace Day has been celebrated on December 1st for years. The purpose of the day is to provoke conversation and commemorate peace prisoners with different expressions of support and solidarity.

The European Bureau for Conscientious Objection's annual report gives an overview of conscientious objection in Europe this year. Read it here.

Foreword by Friedhelm Schneider, EBCO President

In September 2014 Heiner Bielefeldt, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, speaking at a side event to the Human Rights Council, observed: “Conscientious objection to military service is a specific issue, but not a side issue!”. One year on, in October 2015, the European Bureau for Conscientious Objection, for the first time launches its Annual Report “Conscientious objection to military service in Europe 2015” in Geneva, immediately before the Session of the UN Human Rights Committee which will deal with the reports of Greece and the Republic of Korea - two states in which the right of conscientious objection to military service continues flagrantly to be violated.

German Peace Society – United Antimilitarists – State Associations of Berlin, North Rhine Westphalia and Hesse, and Connection e.V.

Visit www.Connection-eV.org/article-2228 for further information on this story.

The case brought against the Ukrainian journalist and conscientious objector Ruslan Kotsaba continued today in Ivano-Frankivsk. It was the first day on which the hearing was observed by a delegation of antimilitarist organisations from Germany. Mr Kotsaba, aged 49, has been held in detention ever since he was arrested almost a year ago on charges of treason and obstructing the military. If sentenced, he faces 15 years in jail.

Statement of the feminist collective TO MOV (Greece) co-signed by the Association of Greek Conscientious Objectors

At a time when the democratic demand is the abolition of compulsory military service, the ministry of Defense, on the contrary, seems to wish the extension of this service to women.

According to publications, a new bill is prepared for the foundation of military secondary schools (lycea) in which all those planning to follow military or police professions will enrol, and also the women enrolling such lycea will have to subsequently perform “voluntary” military service, in order to be eligible for exams in the respective academies. We are faced with a proposal for radical and reactionary reform of the education system in the second grade, which must not pass. What does the Minister of Education say? Does the Minister of Defense decide alone for his own ministry? On what right?

On 6 January 2016, conscientious objector Yannis Vasilis Yaylali was sentenced to 7 months and 15 days of prison penalty, for his articles that defend conscientious objection and oppose the war going on in Kurdish regions. The custodial sentence can only begin after the decision of court of appeal, so he is not in prison yet. He was found guilty of flouting the infamous Article 318 of the Turkish penal code: alienating people from military service. He has two more prosecutions with the same accusation.

Yannis made a statement after the decision:

"Article 318 was rarely used in the last years, until the war began again last year. The state is increasing its pressure to all war resisters, anti-militarists and conscientious objectors in the times of war. They're trying to silence us but we won't give in."

Israeli conscientious objector Taya Govreen-Segal, currently interning in the WRI office in London, is speaking at various events over the coming weeks around Britain.

Events include: 30th January - Palestine day in Portsmouth, 1st February - Glasgow; 2nd February - Edinburgh; 5th February - Godalming; 13th February - 
%20">Britain and Palestine Conference, Sailsbury (talk on the Israeli arms trade).

See more info here.

We are working on creating an interactive map of conscription, and the way conscientious objectors are treated in different countries. This will be part of the “World survey of conscription and conscientious objection to military service” project. This interactive map will make information on conscription and objection more accessible and more clear visually, so it may be used for campaigning as well as research.

We have started collecting information through a questionnaire, but still missing contacts in many countries. If you have the relevant information on one of the following countries, please email taya@wri-irg.org: Algeria, Burkino Faso, Cambodia, Comoros, Dominican Republic, Gambia, Honduras, Jamaica, Liechenstein, Malaysia, Myanmar,  Samoa, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago.


This month we are calling for your support for two prisoners of conscience: Burmese activist Chaw Sandi Tun and Israeli activist Tair Kaminer. Chaw Sandi Tun

has been sentenced to six months’ imprisonment in connection with a Facebook post mocking the army. She was arrested in Yangon and transferred to Maubin prison, where she remains behind bars. Support Chaw Sandi via your protest email here.

Tair Kaminer, 19-year-old activist from Israel, has been imprisoned for 20 days for her refusal to join the Israeli military this month. Support Tair via your protest email here.

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