International Conscientious Objection Day

Every year, 15th May marks International Conscientious Objection Day (CO day) - a day to celebrate those who have, and those who continue, to resist war, especially by refusing to be part of military structures.

If you would like to take part in CO day, contact us.

With a seemingly endless war on terrorism gnawing away at the possibility for a lasting peace many activists in the United Sates are finding that they are drawn to a form of activism that deals with the relationship that young people have to militarism. The work is called, counter military recruitment or counter-recruitment for short, and it primary focus is to demilitarise a nation by attempting to first demilitarise the minds of its youth.

Since the 1980s, 15 May is celebrated as International Day on Conscientious Objection. Conscientious objection movements all over the world use 15 May to promote the right to conscientious objection, and conscientious objection as an antimilitarist action and perspective.

This year, War Resisters’ International wants to highlight the new challenges for conscientious objection as a result of a changing military landscape: the right to conscientious objection for professional soldiers, and the need to counter military propaganda and military recruitment wherever they take place.

15 May – International Day on Conscientious Objection

In recent years many European countries abolished conscription, or suspended conscription in times of peace. Presently, out of the 27 European Union member states only 10 maintain conscription, and it is expected that of those ten some more will abolish conscription in the near future – Poland is expected to abolish conscription in 2010–2012, and Sweden is just now in the process of abolishing conscription.


Placheolder image

15 May is International Day on Conscientious Objection. This issue of The Broken Rifle introduces War Resisters’ International’s theme for CO day 2008: conscientious objection for professional soldiers and countering military recruitment. Both issues are closely related: with the trend to abolishing (or suspending) conscription, at least Western militaries increasingly rely on professional, “voluntary” soldiers.

15/05/08: International Conscientious Objection Day

15 May is International Conscientious Objection Day. This year the War Resisters' International's focus for the day will be on counter-recruitment and the right to consientious objection for professional soldiers.

Activities are being organised by several WRI affiliates and other organisations, not necessarily with the same thematical focus.

15 May - International Conscientious Objectors' Day

War Resisters' International visited the Colombian cities of Medellin, Bogota, and Barrancabermeja in May 2007, to take part in the international activities for International Conscientious Objectors' Day, and to discuss the question of conscientious objection with a range of Colombian authorities and NGOs.

Back to table of contents

It was back in 1924 that there was the first instance of women objecting to compulsory military service. Union leader Carlota Rua, during the first Workers' Congress, opened the debate on the obligation of military service by arguing that young workers and peasants should not be taken from their land, where they contributed to the country with their work, to be forced into destroy it as part of the arm.

The National Assembly of Conscientious Objectors (ANOOC) is a network of organizations and groups of different regions of Colombia who, with a nonviolent approach, promote conscientious objection against all – legal and illegal – armed groups.

One of the main concerns of the National Assembly has been the recruitment problem and the constant militarization of civil life by the different actors involved in Colombia’s armed conflict. That’s the reason why we decided on the following lines of action:

Departing at 21:00 from Bogota on the bus fleet Rápico Ochoa bound for Medellin, the bus was held up at 12.45 a.m. by the National Armed Forces of the Municipality of Guaduas, Cundianamarca. We were held up on the motorway till 1.55 a.m. and later the army allowed us to rest at the Guadua Infantry Battalion, by which time it was 2:11 am, the very time one starts to imagine what may happen. There were 13 youths in the hangar where everyone was amusing themselves on their mobiles or joking around. I conveyed my position as Conscientious Objector to lieutenant Gómez.

Subscribe to International Conscientious Objection Day