Country report and updates: Italy

Last revision: 23 Oct 2008
23 Oct 2008


  • Italy does not recognise the right to conscientious objection for professional soldiers.

Military recruitment


The Italian Parliament decided to end conscription in November 20001.
Originally, it was planned to end conscription by 2007, but the transformation process into professional armed forces went faster than anticipated. On 29 July 2004, Parliament finally
approved Law 4233-B, relating to the “early suspension of compulsory military service and regulation of previously enlisted voluntary servicemen2. Decree n. 226 of 23 August 2004 finally set the date for the transition to a fully professional military for 1 January 20053. Accordingly, young men born after 1985 were no longer called up for
military service. The last conscripts were called up in February 2004 and since 1 January 2005 the Italian armed forces consist of professional soldiers only4.

Conscription is in fact suspended. According to Law 331/20005, conscription may be reintroduced in case of war or national emergency.

However, anyone wanting to join the police, the para-military carabinieri, the customs service or the fire service will still have first to serve a year in the army6.

Professional soldiers

According to Law 226/2004, the minimum age for joining the Armed Forces is now
18. Only Italian citizen can join the Italian Armed Forces7.

Conscientious objection

Conscientious objection for conscripts

When conscription was enforced, legal provisions for conscientious objection were laid down in the 1998 Law on Conscientious Objection (230/19988). If conscription is reintroduced in case of war or national emergency, COs will be called up to serve in civil protection or the Red Cross (Article 13 paragraph 4).

In addition, according to Article 2 of the 1998 Law on Conscientious Objection, the right to
conscientious objection to military service did not apply to those "who have presented a request within less than two years to serve in the Military Armed Forces" or any other government institutions which involve the use of weapons. This restriction practically excludes professional soldiers from claiming the right to conscientious objection.

The law was last modified in 2007, to bring it up to date to a situation where conscription is generally not enforced9.

Conscientious objection for professional soldiers

There are no legal provisions for conscientious objection for professional soldiers.

The rules for leaving the Armed Forces prematurely are presently not known.

Draft evasion and desertion

Under the criminal code draft evasion is punishable by up to five years' imprisonment, and five to 15 years' in wartime (art. 336)10.

Information on practice is not available.


days over for Italy, The Guardian, 25 October 2000,,
accessed 25 April 2008; Italy abolishes the draft, BBC News, 24
October 2000,,
accessed 25 April 2008

learning in voluntary civil and/or substitute services: development
of a prototype model aimed at promoting employability and inclusion
in the workforce – Civil Service Apprenticeship,,
accessed 25 April 2008

ends compulsory military service, AFP, 29 July 2004

per l’istituzione del servizio militare professionale,,
accessed 25 April 2008

ends compulsory military service, AFP, 29 July 2004

23 agosto 2004, n. 226: Sospensione anticipata del servizio
obbligatorio di leva e disciplina dei volontari di truppa in ferma
prefissata, nonche' delega al Governo per il conseguente
coordinamento con la normativa di settore,,
accessed 25 April 2008

8 luglio 1998, n. 230: Nuove norme in materia di obiezione di
accessed 25 April 2008

2 agosto 2007, n. 130: Modifiche alla legge 8 luglio 1998, n. 230,
in materia di obiezione di coscienza,,
accessed 25 April 2008

International 1991. Conscientious objection to military service. AI,

Recent stories on conscientious objection: Italy

31 May 2021

International Conscientious Objection Day (CO Day), 15th May, was celebrated with actions and events by activists from around the world in solidarity with those who have and those who continue to resist war. This year we had a particular focus on Turkey.

18 Dec 2019

From November 1st to November 3rd, 2019 a group of activists from France, Italy, Spain and Switzerland gathered to discuss militarism in their political, social and everyday lives. Conscientious objection, among and in relation to other topics, was central to the discussions at this Antimilitarist Camp in Paris.

25 Sep 2019

Unjust laws and human rights violations force many people to flee their countries and risk drowning to reach Europe via passing through the Mediterranean Sea. Saving the lives of those who are facing death is the first human duty. But now, the Italian law prevents NGOs from search and rescue activities of those people drowning in sea. Because of this context, a number of individuals from Italy launched an appeal for conscientious objection to disobey the relevant law and for saving human lives.

30 Mar 2016

Conscientious objector groups from the eastern Mediterranean region have recently issued a statement on the ongoing military crisis in their region. Declaring their solidarity with refugees escaping from war and repression, they made a call to the international community to pursue peaceful solutions, rather than militarised ones, for the ongoing violence in the region. “The world's reaction to the current regional violence,” the statement declares, “should be building societies, assisting refugees, and mediating between fighting parties, not selling arms, bombings and providing military assistance.”


08 Mar 2016

We are conscientious objectors from all around the eastern Mediterranean region. Our region has suffered for so long from oppression, injustice, militarisation, military occupations and wars, as well as poverty, illiteracy, hunger and lack of social infrastructure. In this difficult period, when our region seems to fall even more into the chaos of war, we raise a common voice for peace and against militarisation.

We refuse to allow this cycle of violence, initiated by oppressive states and economic interests, to continue; we refuse to be a part of it; we refuse to be enemies with people who just happen to be of a different nationality or religion; we will not be dragged into their wars and armies leading to death and destruction in the region.

15 Jan 2009

In this presentation I will give an overview of the right to conscientious objection, its
legal practices and frameworks in the 27 European Union member states. Before I do so, I want to step back a bit and have a brief look at the existing international standards about the right to
conscientious objection, as these standards allow us to put the practices in the EU member states into a perspective.

26 Nov 2008

In an article entitled The truth about Sishawan, the Italian edition of the website PeaceReporter reported on 1 August 2008 on the cases of two Italian helicopter crew who refused to fire at civilians.

01 Sep 2004

The Italian parliament voted at the end of July in favour of an end to compulsory military service. However, those who want to join the police, the carabinieri, the customs service and even the fire brigade will still have to do one year of military service as professional soldiers, at a salary of €980.

Defence Minister Antonio Martino said that the abolition of compulsory military service would be advantegous both to young people, who would be able to start their careers earlier, and to the military, which presently is unable to send conscripts on military operations abroad.