Campaigning for Conscientious Objection: UN Human Rights System

Poster for the Webinar: Campaigning for CO - UN Human Rights System

The second webinar of our series Campaigning for Conscientious Objection to Military Service is taking place on 24th February (1pm UTC). The event, organised by WRI, QUNO and IFOR, will focus on the United Nations (UN) human rights system with speakers from Geneva and Athens.

Register our webinar here.

Conscientious objection within the UN Human Rights System

The issue of conscientious objection to military service has been addressed within the UN human rights system in a number of ways. Both the Human Rights Committee and the UN Human Rights Council have recognised the right of conscientious objection to military service as part of the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion enshrined in Article 18 of both the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

In this webinar:

  • We will give an overview of those ways conscientious objection to military service has been addressed by different UN bodies and procedures,
  • Discuss in what ways they can be relevant for your advocacy work for conscientious objectors (COs) and how you can use the UN system,
  • Directly hear from the Chair of UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention on their work relevant for conscientious objectors (COs)
  • Hear examples from Greece on how campaigners used the UN System in their advocacy efforts for COs in Greece


We will have three presentations by experts and campaigners in the field, including (in order of presentation):

  • Laurel TownheadQuaker United Nations Office Representative for Human Rights and Refugees

Laurel Townhead will give us an overview of the ways in which conscientious objection to military service has been addressed within the UN system and how the UN system is relevant for advocacy for COs.

  • Leigh ToomeyChair of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention

Conscientious objectors continue to be imprisoned, arrested or kept in detention in many countries today. Leigh Toomey, Chair of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, will explain us in what ways the activities of the Working Group are relevant for conscientious objectors who are imprisoned or arrested for their refusal to serve in the military.

  • Georgios KaratzasConscientious objector, researcher and campaigner from Greece

Georgios Karatzas has collaborated with various organisations, including Amnesty International, European Bureau for Conscientious Objection, IFOR,  and WRI, in advocacy efforts for the rights of COs within the UN bodies and procedures. Karatzas will explain how they used the UN system in their advocacy for COs in Greece.

Date and Time

24th February1pm UTC (2pm CET, 8am ET, 10pm South Korea).  


This event is free however registration is requiredPlease use the link here to register


This event will be in English with simultaneous translation to Spanish.

The event will last for 1 hour and 30 minutes including Q&A in the end. The webinar will also be followed by a 30-minute community forum allowing a space for attendees to share any relevant updates from their work and countries.

This webinar is part of a series ‘Campaigning for Conscientious Objection to Military Service’ orgnaised by War Resisters’ International, Quaker United Nations Office and International Fellowship of Reconciliation. Follow our updates on our websites and social media for updates on future events.

We are looking forward to meeting you on 24th February!

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