The Right to Refuse to Kill

Since the founding of War Resisters' International in 1921, the right to refuse to kill - conscientious objection - has been at the core of WRI's work. Although this right to today recognised as an international standard, it is in practice often not granted, and those who claim their right are thrown into prison, or worse (see for example the article on Eritrea in this Broken Rifle).

War Resisters' International supports conscientious objectors and deserters wherever they are. The focus of the work is supportung groups and movements of objectors in their struggle for the recognition of their right. International Conscientious Objectors' Day - 15 May - is used every year to highlight a particular struggle. In 2007, the focus is on conscientious objectors in Colombia. In addition, War Resisters' International maintains an email alert system (co-alert) in cases of imprisonment or arrest of a conscientious objector. International solidarity and protest can help to protect a conscientious objector in prison, and in some cases facilitate their release.

War Resisters' International's work for the right to conscientious objection is closely linked to our antimilitarist perspective: to fight against war and the causes of war. For WRI, conscientious objection is not about individuals being exempted from military service, but about furthering the antimilitarist cause to abolish war and militarism. In this, the right to conscientious objection is a tool, but not an end in itself.

WRI's Right to Refuse to Kill programme publishes a monthly e-newsletter in English, French, and Spanish, with updates on conscientious objection and military service. More information is available at If you have any questions, please contact the WRI office at

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