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.

The German Marshall Fund of the United States annually does a survey on important "transatlantic trends", which can make an interesting read. One of the questions asked is: "Please tell me to what extent do you agree with the following: Under some conditions, was is necessary to obtain justice." (Q29.2). The answers are quite revealing (see graphic below).

Report on a visit to Colombia in May/June 2010

Speck, War Resisters' International's Right to Refuse to Kill
programme worker1, visited Colombia from 19 May until 12 June 2010. During his visit, he
spoke at two conferences on conscientious objection, and visited groups and individuals working on CO in Bogota, Sincelejo, Medellin, Cali, Villa Rica, and Barrancabermeja.

Book launch, 23 April 2010, 7pm, Housmans Bookshop

War Resisters' International is proud to finally publish "Women Conscientious Objectors - An Anthology", edited by Ellen Elster and Majken Jul Sørensen, with a preface by Cynthia Enloe. As WRI's chair Howard Clark writes in his preface: "In several senses, an anthology such as this is long overdue. First in the sense of acknowledging this part of the relatively hidden history of antimilitarism. Second for War Resisters' International organisationally. Founded in 1921, WRI has for much of its history been male-dominated, despite the prominent role of women in various affiliates and with certain exceptions at the international level such as long-serving WRI General Secretary Grace Beaton. Since 1972 conscious efforts have been made to change this — first the introduction of inclusive language (s/he, etc), and then, beginning in 1976, the organisation of special women's gatherings, usually in conjunction with WRI's “elder sister” the International Fellowship of Reconciliation. The second gathering in Scotland served as a prelude to the resurgence of an international women's peace movement in the 1980s, and produced a forceful statement on Women as Total Resisters. The British women involved in these gatherings formed the Feminism and Nonviolence Study Group and WRI later co-published their book Piecing It Together (now online at http://wri-irg.org/pubs/Feminism_and_Nonviolence). Then in 1986 the WRI Women's Working Group was formed to take this work forward and to provide a welcoming entry point for women activists, while WRI's 1987 seminar on Refusing War Preparations: Non-cooperation and Conscientious Objection was a response to feminist prompting to look at 'the wider implications of conscientious objection'. That seminar reflected new interest in the Anti-War Plan presented to WRI in 1934 by Bart de Ligt, but it took a decidedly more feminist approach. Activities central to war refusal — war tax resistance, refusing war work and opposing cultural preparations for war — are all areas where women have been and remain at the forefront."

Refusing militarism is not possible without refusing hegemonic masculinity

Andreas Speck, War Resisters' International

the militarist value system and its practices which are identified
with military service, one is also obliged to question the hegemonic
understanding of masculinity. In Turkey, military service is a
laboratory in which masculinity is reproduced. The patriarchal system
is solidified through military service.

This manual focuses on building the GI resistance movement, and doing so requires an understanding of how veterans are directly impacted by war and militarism. Civilian organizers need this awareness in order to to build relationships and organize effectively in the military community. Below we explore veterans’ experiences with the military.

Military Culture and Structure

After the military coup in Honduras in June 2009, resistance is growing in the country to what is seen as a reintroduction of conscription, which had been abolished by a constitutional amendment in 1994. Already in July 2009, human rights activists accused the Honduran military to forcefully recruit for the Armed Forces.

On 16 April 2009, Human Rights Watch produced a 95-page report - Service for Life - which includes a detailed description of human rights abuses involved in the practice of conscription in Eritrea, not only against the conscripts themselves but also their families, and not only during the period of military service but in forced labour afterwards.

The report in full is available here.

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