Militarisation of Youth

Our Countering the Militarisation of Youth programme identifies and challenges the many ways in which young people around the world are encouraged to accept the military and military values as normal, and worthy of their uncritical support. Militarisation is a process that goes far beyond overt recruitment. It includes the presence and influence of the armed forces in education, public military events such as parades and military-themed video games.

As part of our programme, we bring together a network of activists already working on countering youth militarisation in their own settings, and encourage more people to take action on these issues. Our activities with this aim include:

Antimili-youth.net

In August 2014 we launched a website specifically on the topic of youth militarisation. It's a place where you can add your own resources - to share documentation on how young people come into contact with the military, and how to challenge the militarisation of young people around the world. Find it here: http://www.antimili-youth.net

International Week of Action Against the Militarisation of Youth

In June 2013, we supported groups and individuals who took action as part of the first ever International Day of Action for Military-Free Education and Research, followed in 25 - 31 October 2014 by the first week of action for Military-Free Education and Research. Since 2015, WRI has been organising the International Week of Action Against the Militarisation of Youth with the participation of various groups from across the world via their autonomous actions and events. See the reports from 2015 here, and from 2016 here.

Sowing Seeds: The Militarisation of Youth and How to Counter

Following our international conference on Countering the Militarisation of Youth in Darmstadt, Germany, in June 2012, we published a book based on themes explored at the conference: Sowing Seeds: The Militarisation of Youth and How to Counter. It is available to purchase here in English, and available to read for free here.

Gender and Countering Youth Militarisation

In 2017, thanks to the support of the Network for Social Change, we have started a new project, Gender and Countering Youth Militarisation. As part of this project, we are going to organise a number of trainings with grassroots activists from across different countries, focusing on the role of gender in our campaigns against youth militarisation. The project will also include an online resource to be out in 2018, inquiring these issues further with contributions by activists and experts in the field.

 

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Sergeiy Sandler: Sergeiy is a conscientious objector to military service, a long-time activist in the Israeli feminist antimilitarist movement New Profile, and a member of the International Council of the War Resisters' International.

David Gee: David has written and co-written various research reports on ethical issues arising from military recruitment: ‘Informed Choice? Armed forces recruitment practice in the United Kingdom’ (2008), ‘Army recruiters visit London's poorest schools most often’ (2010), and ‘One Step Forward: The case for ending the recruitment of minors by the British armed forces’ (2013), and ‘Youngest recruits face greatest risks in Afghansitan’ (forthcoming). In 2010 he co-founded ForcesWatch. At WRI's Countering the Militarisation of Youth Conference, he was one of those interviewed.

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Cattis Laska and Hanns Molander

Militarism is not just a war, an army or a fighter jet. Militarism is a system, a logic and a set of norms that perpetuates and recreates our societies and our daily lives. Queer analysis of power is a political tool that can help us to challenge these norms, and thus, to also challenge militarism.

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based on a piece by Cecil Arndt

In different countries, war and militarisation take on very different meanings and have different effects, depending not only on the presence or absence of direct acts of war but also on country's political, economic, and social circumstances, and its history and traditions. As these factors define not only to the types, levels, and effects of militarisation but also the ways in which it can be effectively resisted, the scope of this article is inevitably limited; it can only provide a Western, European, largely German perspective on the use of direct action to oppose the militarisation of youth, although it explores possibilities in other countries nonetheless.

Militarisation, in whatever form it takes, must be understood as always being directed at young people. The militarisation of youth relies not only on their direct recruitment into the armed forces, but on the widely growing intrusion of the military into the lives and minds of people of all ages. This intrusion influences individual daily routines, preferences and choices, as well as general perceptions. The common theme is the normalising of war and the military.

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Kai-Uwe Dosch, Sarah Roßa and Lena Sachs (amalgamated by Michael Schulze von Glasser)

The militarisation of the education system in Germany

In Germany, hardly a week goes by without coming across ‘Germany's heroes’ in uniform. They grin from billboards, television screens, student magazines, and booklets on trains, advertising a ‘career with a future’. The slogans ‘In the line of duty for freedom’ or ‘We. Serve. Germany.’ appear to be the mantras of a new militarisation: one that wishes to bring the population to a martial ‘peace course’.

In schools, the German Armed Forces give lessons and impose their influence on the training and development of teachers. Military service counsellors are invited to schools to advertise the career possibilities in the armed forces, or to build their advertising playgrounds in the schoolyard (the so-called ‘career meeting places’). The armed forces even have a say on the content of the school curriculum; they increasingly install youth officers in the schools: young, well-educated and rhetorically-trained soldiers who act the part for political education. The cooperation between schools and the armed forces, which has existed since the forces' foundation in 1955, reached a new height in 2008 and subsequently with the finalised ‘cooperation agreements’ in eight of Germany's sixteen federal states between the armed forces and the responsible Ministry of Education. This new involvement is hidden under the guise of political education, but serves as recruitment and the legitimisation of the policy to militarise security.

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Kelly Dougherty

As long as there have been wars and the military, soldiers around the world have resisted, deserted, and refused combat duty for both moral and political reasons, and civilians have supported them. From the formation of the St. Patrick’s Battalion made up of soldiers who deserted the U.S. Army to join forces with the Mexicans during the Mexican-American War, to the Bonus Army in the 1930’s where thousands of U.S. veterans marched and occupied Washington DC demanding back-pay for their service in World War I, to the huge GI[1] resistance movement during the Vietnam war, the United States has a rich and varied legacy of military members refusing to be used by their government to further political and economic agendas. GIs are the work force that make war and military occupation possible and, as such, have a critical role to play as leaders in the struggle to end war and militarism.

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I as Director of the Vocational Training Centre for former Child Soldiers implemented programmes for UNICEF including how to get children who were caught up in the war back into the mainstream of life – to get them back into school or vocational activities...Reduce or eliminate all sort of inequalities and violence will be reduced. If there is no violence, there would be no need for child soldiers... - Domino Frank Suleiman, Liberia

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The image of masculinity...the model men that go to war, that compete. - Jorge Veléz, Colombia

The Ministry of Women, for example, was created in 2006 and since then one of the main goals that the Minister for Women has proposed is to provide two million female members to the militia. She has already set in motion a first stage where she promised 150,000... - Rafael Uzcategui, Venezuela

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Of the thirty-two countries surveyed, there is only an active attempt to recruit LGBT people in four. Eight countries don’t allow LGBT people to enlist at all, although of those, Kenya is the only one where homosexuality is actually illegal. In Turkey men can be exempted from military service if they can 'prove' (including by providing photos or video footage of them having sex with men) that they are homosexual. But in the majority of countries, sexuality is simply not a recruitment criterion.

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Emma Sangster

The armed forces are increasingly being provided with access to young people within the UK education system – mainly at secondary and further education level but also within universities and even primary schools. In addition to armed forces presentations and other visits to schools and colleges which have been going on for many years, there is a new push to make 'military ethos and skills' a part of school life.

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