Report on the International Seminar Conscientious Objection and Peace


Organized by War Resisters' International and Peace Action

20-23 June 2004, Boy Scouts' camp, Ohrid, Republic of Macedonia

The Boy Scouts' camp was the place on which 60 peace activists from all around the world gathered on the seminar on subject Conscientious objection and peace. From 20 – 23 June the seminar was held, and the next two days were days for War Resisters International Council meeting. The work on the seminar was intense, mornings were with presentations on different topics, afternoons were for work in groups and at the evenings plenarys were held and summing up of the results of the daily work or raised issues.

Day one

The first day was dedicated to two general subjects:

Conscientious objection and peace

In this subject, presentations were made about conscientious objection on the Balkans in the context of the wars that happened, and the conscientious objection issue in Israel and its influence over Israeli peace movement.

Conscientious objection and antimilitarism

Issues raised in this workshop were on the current situation and the strategic questions about the future of conscientious objectors in the Balkan countries Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia, in the context of a general antimilitaristic work. (The Balkan representatives that spoke were from organizations: Peace Action – Macedonia, Women in Black – Serbia and Montenegro, Campaign for conscientious objection – Bosnia and Herzegovina and Antiwar Campaign - Croatia).

The rest of the morning was dedicated to work with groups on comparison on the situation in the countries of the region.

The afternoon had several workshops:

  • Militarization of the European Union – presentation held by Rene Burget from Union Pacifiste, France
  • Private armies and war profiteers – presentation held by Joanne Sheehan and Andreas Speck from WRI London
  • Conscientious objection, military obligation, professional armies and resistance? – presentation held by Kai-Uwe Dosch, Germany
  • Nationalism, militarism and patriarchate – presentation held by Ellen Elster, WRI, women's working group.

Day two

The second day was dedicated to one subject: Nonviolence in the globalized world.

Morning sessions were:

  • What can nonviolence offer in the “war against terror” – presentation held by Jørgen Johanson, University of Tromso, Norway
  • Beyond conscientious objection: strategies for nonviolent action – presentation held by Howard Clark, nonviolence trainer, author of the book “Nonviolence resistance in Kosovo”
  • Nonviolent interventions in former Yugoslavia – Christine Schweitzer, Nonviolent Peace Force.

The rest of the morning session was left for group work on the questions raised by the presentation.

The afternoon was for group work. Two short trainings were held in two different groups:

  • Nonviolent communication – Michele, GSOA, Switzerland
  • Training for nonviolent action for beginners – Vivien Sharples, War Resisters' League – USA

The other afternoon workshops were:

  • Nonviolent intervention – approaches and experiences - Christine Schweitzer, Nonviolent Peace Force.
  • Nonviolence and the anti-globalization movement - Jørgen Johanson, University of Tromso, Norway
  • Conscientious objection, non-cooperation, nonviolent direct action as a part of nonviolent strategy - Howard Clark, nonviolence trainer, author of the book “Nonviolent resistance in Kosovo” and Andreas Speck, WRI London

The evening we had a plenary, presentation of the results from the working groups followe by a discussion.

Day three

The third day had one issue on the agenda: Dealing with the past.

The workshop moderator was Roberta Bacic, WRI, London. During the workshop there were presentations from activists from Angola, Chile, Croatia and Macedonia. It was followed by a discussion. A full report of this discussion is available on this page.

The next two days, the WRI Council meeting was held.

Report made by

Stefan Simonovski

Mirovna akcija / Peace Action


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