Editorial

Today, the European Court of Human Rights finally affirmed the right to conscientious objection to military service. The Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights, in a ground-breaking judgment (issued on Thursday) in the case of Bayatyan v. Armenia (Application no. 23459/03, 1/6/2011), has ruled that states have a duty to respect individuals’ right to conscientious objection to military service as part of their obligation to respect the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion set out in Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights (see the joint statement).

War Resisters' International, jointly with Amnesty International, Conscience & Peace Tax International, the International Commission of Jurists and the Quaker United Nations Office, Geneca, submitted a third party intervention in this case, which - so we hope - contributed to this positive outcome.

With this judgement, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights is catching up (almost) with the jurisprudence of the United Nations Human Rights Committee on conscientious objection. It has to be hoped that this sends a strong signal not only to those countries in Europe that do not yet recognise the right to conscientious objection, but also to other countries, as now two international human rights systems clearly recognise the right to conscientious objection.

War Resisters' International will continue to fight for the recognition of the right to conscientious objection globally. To do so, we need your support.

Andreas Speck