CO Update

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(More news and updates below) 

Call for actions in solidarity with Ukrainian pacifist Ruslan Kotsaba

Ukrainian conscientious objector and journalist Ruslan Kotsaba will be on trial again on September 20th. Support Kotsaba with your actions ahead of his trial!

Kotsaba, president of the Ukrainian Pacifist Movement, is accused of treason and obstructing military operations for his expressions calling for peace in a video he posted in 2015. In the video, Kotsaba was calling to boycott military mobilisation for the conflict in Eastern Ukraine.

Kotsaba had already spent 524 days under arrest for his expressions opposing the war and was duly acquitted in 2016. His retrial is a clearly politically motivated persecution which must end immediately. Furthermore he was attacked by neo-Nazis several times and seriously wounded. For background and more information on Ruslan’s case, see here.

War Resisters’ International (WRI), European Bureau for Conscientious Objection (EBCO) and Connection e.V. are calling for international actions ahead of Kotsaba’s next hearing, scheduled to take place on September 20th. 

What can you do?

  • Write to the Prosecutor General of Ukraine demanding an end to his prosecution. You can use our template letter which can be reached here.
  • Organize a vigil in front of an Ukrainian embassy or consulate in your country. You can find the list of Ukrainian embassies here.
  • Ask politicians in your country to support Ruslan Kotsaba by sending a letter to the Ukrainian authorities and/or the Prosecutor General.

Please contact us about your activities via

WRI, EBCO and Connection e.V. are standing in solidarity with Ruslan Kotsaba. We urge the Ukrainian government to end his prosecution and to ensure that all pacifists, in Ukraine, including the activists of Ukrainian Pacifist Movement, are able to freely express their opinions and continue their non-violent activity. We also urge the Ukrainian government to safeguard the right to conscientious objection to military service, according to the European and international standards.


In February, War Resisters’ International, Quaker United Nations Office (QUNO) and International Fellowship for Reconciliation (IFOR) started a new webinar series on campaigning for conscientious to military service. The webinars included presentations from activists and experts from different countries. They also included some case studies and testimonies from CO's around the world. The presentations (in English, Spanish and some in Turkish) are now available on the Refuse to Kill Youtube Channel.   

War Resisters' International, together with Connection e.V. and Union Pacifiste de France, released a new publication, Conscientious Objection in Turkey. The booklet, published in English, Turkish, French and German, includes articles on the situation of conscientious objectors in Turkey, the history of the conscientious objection movement in the country, as well as the experiences of COs from Turkey who sought asylum in other countries. 

In July, the Constitutional Court in Colombia received a lawsuit to extend the exception to perform compulsory military service to all ethnic communities in Colombia, an exception that currently applies to indigenous communities only. This claim also asks for these communities to be exonerated of the military compensation fee.

An open letter signed by a coalition of human rights groups, including Child Rights International Network, Amnesty International UK and Human Rights Watch, urged the defence Ministry to stop recruiting children aged under 18.

When in some countries conscientious objection has been recognised and in others, conscientious objectors continue to be imprisoned, some governments are considering introducing compulsory military service for women covering it up with gender equality and anti-discrimination discourses. This has been the case for countries like México, Colombia, the United States and more recently in South Korea and Switzerland.

The Conscientious Objection Association (Turkey) has released a new report on the rights violations of conscientious objectors (COs) in Turkey. The report, released this Monday, includes in-depth interviews with COs, explains ongoing cases of COs, and includes recommendations to the Turkish government and to the international mechanisms regarding the issue.

In a new judgement of 20 July 2021, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) found a violation of Article 9 (the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion) of the European Convention of Human Rights, in the case of an Armenian conscientious objector from Nagorno-Karabakh who had been sentenced and imprisoned for refusing to perform military service.

WRI strongly condemns the brutal attacks against conscientious objector Ruslan Kotsaba and stands in solidarity with him. We also join the Ukrainian Pacifist Movement (UPM) in their call to the authorities to investigate the attacks against Kotsaba thoroughly and take necessary steps to ensure his and other UPM activists’ safety.