IFOR speaks at the UN calling on Greece to comply with conscientious objection international standards


The International Fellowship of Reconciliation is participating in the 49th session of the UN HUman Rights Council.

On March 23rd the plenary addressed item 6 which is pertaining to the Universal Periodic Reviews. During the meeting the Council adopted the outcomes concerning the Country reviews which took place during the 39th session of the UPR.

IFOR had previously submitted some reports for the 39th UPR, including one on Greece and has therefore taken the floor in the plenary to comment the outcome of Greece review and highlight the urgency for Greece to comply with consicnetious objection international standards.

Human Rights Council, 49th Session 

Geneva, 23rd March 2022 

Item 6: UPR adoption Greece 

Oral statement delivered by the International Fellowship of Reconciliation. 

Mr President, 

IFOR welcomes Greece’s acceptance1of the recommendation to “Revise its national legislation with a  view to recognizing the right to conscientious objection to military service, envisaging an alternative  service to military service to which all conscientious objectors have access to and that is not punitive or  discriminatory in its nature, cost or duration.”2 

We call on Greece to also implement the decision of the Human Rights Committee in the Petromelidis v.  Greece case.3 

IFOR is concerned that the State did not accept4the recommendation to “consider amending the legislation  in order for conscientious objectors to be able to perform alternative civilian service in their place of  residence”.5In 2019, Greece had reassured the UN [that “With the new legal framework, they can request  service in another authority, including close to their place of residence, after five (5) months…”].6 

However, we have been informed that such applications are rejected on the ground that it is not permitted  by the legislation.  

Furthermore, there is a critical decrease of the number of accepted applications for conscientious objector  status, especially those citing ideological grounds. Since 2020, out of 22 applications on ideological  grounds only 6 were approved [and 16 were rejected], which means 27%, the lowest in many years. While  the percentage of accepted applications on religious grounds is about 97%. This indicates a  “discrimination on the basis of different grounds of objection to service”, as highlighted by the Human  Rights Committee [in its concluding observations] in 2015.  

The pending cases at the Council of State, of rejected applicants Charis Vasileiou and Nikolas Stefanidis are another example of the urgent need for Greece to comply with the international standards.7 

Thank you. 

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