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.

Germany Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer suggested opening the debate on reintroducing military service for high school graduates. After doing a “listening tour” of Christian Democratic Union (CDU) branches, Annegret Kramp-karrembauer came out in favor of starting the discussion of reintroducing compulsory national service in Germany.

Contrary to international humanitarian law, Russian continues conscripting men in Crimea to serve in the Russian armed forces. Human Rights Watch has reviewed dozens of judgments from Crimean courts on criminal draft evasion cases and identified 71 criminal draft evasion cases and 63 guilty verdicts between 2017 and 2019.

Compulsory military service in Honduras, abolished in 1994, still brings painful memories of terrible human rights violations such as forced recruitment, forced disappearances and the torture and death of those who either refused to enlist or were campaigning against it. War Resisters’ International strongly believes that the initiatives to reestablish a compulsory military service are not a step in the right direction, if the desired result is to decrease the crime rate and avoid criminal organizations recruiting the youth of Honduras, which happen to be the two most commonly used arguments for reintroducing the compulsory military service.

1st December, Sunday, is Prisoners for Peace Day. For over sixty years on this day, we've been sharing stories and contacts details of conscientious objectors and activists for peace who have been imprisoned for their refusal to take up arms and resist war. Set aside time on this day to write to those imprisoned for their peace work.

This November in Bolivia, sixty-two soldiers performing their military service at the Military Police School Regiment N°1 Saavedra requested to be discharged, arguing that they didn't want to attack their parents and families protesting on the streets.

This year has been perhaps the most crucial year for conscientious objectors in Greece since the establishment of alternative civilian service in 1997-1998. After years of efforts, there was an opportunity for significant changes. Certain improvements in the legislative framework were achieved but the most important one, the reduction of the length of alternative civilian service was quickly annulled after the summer general elections by the new right-wing Greek government.

On 17th October, European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) convicted Azerbaijan for violating Article 9 (right to freedom of conscience, thought and religion) of the European Convention on Human Rights in the case of five conscientious objectors (all Jehovah's Witnesses) who were prosecuted and sentenced to imprisonment for their refusal to perform military service. 

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