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 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.
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.
1000 participants and 500 arrests at international action day NATO GAME OVER
About 1000 people from 17 European countries went to the NATO headquarters in Brussels on 22 March and took part in the international nonviolent action NATO GAME OVER. Five years after the start of the Iraq war and 10 days before the Bucharest NATO summit, peace activists from all over Europe showed that preventing war starts in Europe.
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.
14–15 November 2008: European day of action against military globalisation
Europe is at war. The bombs are not falling in Europe but several thousands of km away in Iraq and Afghanistan, yet nevertheless war is waged from Europe. Europe serves as a launch pad for military interventions worldwide. The framework can differ: NATO, EU, US coalition of the willing, UN. The targets vary as well: Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Chad, …. But the departure points don’t: military bases and civilian airports and harbours in Europe. Europe hosts a large military intervention machinery.
How do armies outside Europe/North America recruit?
Although Europe and the United States might have their armies all over the world – and if not their armies, they surely use economical “cooperation” and development “aid” backed by their military force to maintain their political and economical influence – they are not the only countries with Armed Forces. In fact, most states in the world maintain Armed Forces. How then do other major military players recruit for their Armed Forces?
The Broken Rifle is the newsletter of War Resisters’ International, and is published in English, Spanish, French and German. This is issue 78, May 2008. This issue of The Broken Rifle was produced by Andreas Speck. Special thanks go to Oskar Castro and everyone else who contributed to this issue. If you want extra copies of this issue of The Broken Rifle, please contact the WRI office, or download it from our website.
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