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.


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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.

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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.

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó delegates from other Colombian peace communities and visitors from 14 countries met in settlements La Unión and San Josesito de Apartadó (where the Community resettled after police installed themselves on the territory of the original community) in the municipality of Apartadó, Antioquia province.

Freedom of conscience and obligatory military service in the Political Constitution of Colombia The legal framework over recognition of conscientious objection in Colombia remains the contradiction between Articles 18 and 216 in the 1991 Constitution. In the chapter on fundamental rights, article 18 guarantees freedom of conscience: “nobody will be obliged to act against their conscience”.

Colombia is one of the countries with the longest history of armed conflict – by now more than 50 years. Decades of war and violence by the state's military forces, paramilitaries, and different guerilla forces lead to a militarisation of the entire Colombian socierty. After several failed peace processes, the "war on terror" and its Colombian counterparts, the "Plan Colombia" and "Plan Patriota" lead to an escalation of the armed conflict.

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