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.

Press release on the hand grenade attack against the Migrants’ House

Athens, 25 February 2009

Yesterday night, Tuesday 24 February, at around 10 pm, and while there was in full progress an open meeting against the new armaments plan, hosted by the Greek Association of Conscientious Objectors, an unknown person threw a hand grenade at the building that the meeting was taking place - the Migrants’ House at 13A Tsamadou Street in Exarchia - and then run away.

Hearing in the European Parliament on conscientious objection in the European Union

Regarding todays public hearing in the Subcommittee Security and Defence (SEDE) of the European Parliament on conscientious objection, MEP Tobias Pflüger (DIE LINKE), member of the Committee for Foreign Relations(AFET) and coordinator of the Left Faction (GUE/NGL) in the Subcommittee Security and Defence (SEDE) declares:

In this presentation I will give an overview of the right to conscientious objection, its
legal practices and frameworks in the 27 European Union member states. Before I do so, I want to step back a bit and have a brief look at the existing international standards about the right to
conscientious objection, as these standards allow us to put the practices in the EU member states into a perspective.

Statement by Korea Solidarity for Conscientious Objection

On December 24, the Ministry of National Defense announced the result of the survey that The Military Manpower Administration (MMA) had commissioned with a policy think tank of Daejeon University. The announcement was mainly focused on the negative outcomes of the public consensus. Last June, the MMA announced that the final decision will be based on public agreements. Therefore, this survey could completely annul the alternative service for conscientious objectors announced on September, 2007.

This publication provides an overview of the present state of the right to conscientious objection in the European Union, including the candidate countries Croatia, Turkey, and FYROM (Macedonia). This publication was produced in close co-operation with War Resisters' International (WRI). It builts on the global survey on the situation of conscientious objectors by War Resisters' International from 1998 [1] and their update by Quaker Council for European Affairs (QCEA) from 2005 [2].

Refusal to take part in war is as old as war itself. However, with the introduction of conscription as a more "effective" means for recruiting (first in France on 5 September 1798), and modern warfare, war resistance too had to become more organised. Former WRI Council secretary Tony Smythe wrote in 1967: "Men have always been impressed, levied, requisitioned, conscripted and bullied into the armies of their rulers but modern mass compulsory recruitment has been applied on a scale which makes it one of the major repressive institutions of our time, It is an integral part of the total war concept.

Index of papers relased under the Freedom of Information Act

WRI has obtained the following papers from the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) pursuant to a Freedom of Information request in August 2007.

Cover letter 17-08-2007-161349-004 Speck (Ministry of Defence)
Armed forces policy on conscientious objectors (Ministry of Defence)
AGAIs Vol 5 Instruction 006 - Retirement or discharge on grounds of conscience (Royal Army)

Personnel, Legal, Administrativeand General orders 0801.

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).

Presentation at the international seminar "Unarmed Resistance: the transnational factor", Coventry, 15 July 2006

Andreas Speck, War Resisters' International

WRI homepage > Programme Areas > The Right to Refuse to Kill > Solidarity with war resistance in Turkey (for Coventry seminar)



The Turkish war resisters movement - a brief hi



Conscription and Conscientious Objection

What is conscientious objection

The recognition of the right to conscientious objection

Different faces of conscientious objection

Challenges for the CO movement

The role of the right to conscientious objection

Speech at Public Hearing "The Right of Soldiers to Refuse to Participate in Wars Violating International Law" at European Parliament in Strasbourg

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Members of the European Parliament,

I'm pleased to have the opportunity today to speak about the kind of protection soldiers need when they refuse to commit violations of international law or declare their conscientious objection.

I work in a German organisation called Connection.

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