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.

 

In September 2012 an antimilitarist action week took place in Germany – an evaluation

The idea of the action week arose from a small group during the 'PAXX (Peace) Action Conference' - an open meeting of antimilitarists – in March 2012 in Mannheim, and was originally related to the sector 'Bundeswehr (the German army) in schools'. Because of the high interest and the request of initiatives of the civil clause movement, the topic was shortly afterwards completed with the sector 'Military and armament research in colleges'. All the proposals were taken up and from September 24 to 29 the action week 'Für militärfreie Bildung und Forschung' (For Military-Free Education and Research) took place. The coordination of the action week, i.e. organisation and dispatch of a nationwide leaflet and maintenance of the action webpage was concentrated in the state of Baden-Württemberg and was taken over by the campaign 'Schulfrei für die Bundeswehr Baden-Württemberg' (No school for the Bundeswehr Baden-Württemberg).

The international study conference on Countering the Militarisation of Youth, which took place from 8-10 June 2012 in Darmstadt, Germany, was a great success. With the conference we made an important step towards more cooperation and exchange among groups working on militarisation of youth in a range of topical areas and countries. For the conference, we brought together 65 participants from 14 countries and four continents, which in itself has been a great achievement. Our discussions enriched our understanding of militarisation, and helped to inspire us how to resist this militarisation.

The issue of child soldiers is back on the global agenda, thanks to two major recent developments. In March, Thomas Lubanga became the first person to be convicted by the International Criminal Court. He was found guilty of forcibly recruiting child soldiers to his Union of Congolese Patriots, known as 'the army of children'. The second, most visible development, was the massive popularity growth of web-based film KONY2012.

In this article we will explain how we understand in what ways politics about gender, sexuality and war are related to each other. We will also tell you about some actions Ofog (anti-militarist network) did against the Swedish Armed Forces participation in the last Pride festival (August 2011).

The US military maintains an Orwellian database containing intimate details on 30 million youth between the ages of 16 and 25, providing local recruiters with personal information to use in a psychological campaign to lure youth within their designated regions. Before meeting, recruiters know what's in Johnny's head, if Johnny has a girlfriend, and what she thinks of his decision regarding enlistment. We'll examine how they do it.

The debate about the “militarisation of research and teaching” is relatively new in Germany, and happens against the background of the restructuring of the German Bundeswehr from an alleged “defence army” to an “army in deployment”. This restructuring and the extent to which it affects the entire German population, are usually underestimated. While the defence army was, by design, relatively evenly distributed over Germany’s territory, at present, several military bases are being closed or merged, and military capabilities are concentrated at some locations.

As part of the work against the militarisation of education, since 2011, several schools in Germany have opposed cooperation with the German Bundeswehr and do not allow visits by Bundeswehr representatives to the school.

Robert-Blum-Gymnasium, Berlin: The school conference of the Robert-Blum-Gymnasium decided on Thursday, 24 March 2011, with a vote of 7 to 1 to adopt a proposal for making it a military-free school. The proposal was worded as follows:

Robert-Blum-Gymnasium – School without military

– A new area of work for War Resisters' International

In Europe, and to some degree on a global level, there are presently two trends which both contribute to an increase in the militarisation of youth. The first trend is the end (or, more exactly, the suspension) of conscription in most European countries since the 1990s. In 2011, Germany, one of the last major military and economic powers in Europe which still maintained conscription, suspended conscription. The second trend is one of an increasing “normalisation of war”. Since the war in the Balkans, but even more so since 9/11 and the announcement of the “war on terror”, the political use of military force has increased – war is no longer seen as a failure of politics, but as one of the tools of politics. This led to a radical restructuring of military forces, oriented towards mobility and military intervention. But it also brought with it new justifications for the use of military force: first “humanitarian intervention” (Yugoslavia, Somalia), then the “war on terror” (Afghanistan, Iraq) and the “responsibility to protect” (Libya). Both trends reinforce each other, and one outcome is the increased militarisation of youth from an early age on.

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