Right to Refuse to Kill

War Resisters' International's programme The Right to Refuse to Kill combines a wide range of activities to support conscientious objectors individually, as well as organised groups and movements for conscientious objection.

Our main publications are CO-Alerts (advocacy alerts sent out whenever a conscientious objector is prosecuted) and CO-Updates (a bimonthly look at developments in conscientious objection around the world).

We maintain the CO Guide - A Conscientious Objector's Guide to the International Human Rights System, which can help COs to challenge their own governments, and protect themselves from human rights abuses.

Information about how nation states treat conscientious objectors can be found in our World Survey of Conscientious Objection and recruitment.

More info on the programme is available here.

Ukrainian conscientious objector and journalist Ruslan Kotsaba will be on trial again on September 20th. Support Kotsaba with your actions ahead of his trial! War Resisters’ International (WRI), European Bureau for Conscientious Objection (EBCO) and Connection e.V. are calling for international actions ahead of Kotsaba’s next hearing, scheduled to take place on September 20th.

Ahead of the hearing before the Council of State, Greece’s Supreme Administrative Court, of the case of Charis Vasileiou, a conscientious objector whose application has been rejected by the Deputy Minister of National Defence, Amnesty International, Connection e.V., the European Bureau for Conscientious Objection (EBCO-BEOC), the International Fellowship of Reconciliation (IFOR) and War Resisters’ International (WRI) call on the Greek authorities to annul the decision of rejection

The Conscientious Objection Association (Turkey) has released a new report on the rights violations of conscientious objectors (COs) in Turkey. The report, released this Monday, includes in-depth interviews with COs, explains ongoing cases of COs, and includes recommendations to the Turkish government and to the international mechanisms regarding the issue.

In a new judgement of 20 July 2021, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) found a violation of Article 9 (the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion) of the European Convention of Human Rights, in the case of an Armenian conscientious objector from Nagorno-Karabakh who had been sentenced and imprisoned for refusing to perform military service.

In February, War Resisters’ International, Quaker United Nations Office (QUNO) and International Fellowship for Reconciliation (IFOR) started a new webinar series on campaigning for conscientious to military service. The webinars included presentations from activists and experts from different countries. They also included some case studies and testimonies from CO's around the world. The presentations (in English, Spanish and some in Turkish) are now available on the Refuse to Kill Youtube Channel.   

At the beginning of 2021, the Salvadorian government, while discussing possible reforms to the Constitution, raised the possibility of establishing compulsory military service. The Ombudsman urged the government not to include the compulsory military service issue in this discussion. More recently, the Ministry of Justice and Security announced that it’s planning to increase, within five years, from 20,000 to 40,000 the number of members of the Armed Forces which raised again the question around the compulsory military that at the moment is voluntary.

When in some countries conscientious objection has been recognised and in others, conscientious objectors continue to be imprisoned, some governments are considering introducing compulsory military service for women covering it up with gender equality and anti-discrimination discourses. This has been the case for countries like México, Colombia, the United States and more recently in South Korea and Switzerland.

War Resisters' International, together with Connection e.V. and Union Pacifiste de France, released a new publication, Conscientious Objection in Turkey. The booklet, published in English, Turkish, French and German, includes articles on the situation of conscientious objectors in Turkey, the history of the conscientious objection movement in the country, as well as the experiences of COs from Turkey who sought asylum in other countries. 

Conscientious objectors to military service continue to be imprisoned in many countries today. WRI regularly updates its list of imprisoned conscientious objectors and organise solidarity for them. In this story, you will see conscientious objectors who are known to be behind bars or serving in labour camps by June 2021.

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