There are often rumours of conscription in times of political tension, or when right-wing spokespeople raise fears of the 'indiscipline of youth'. Such rumours often circulate without impact, but sometimes they are the start of a wider campaign and eventual reintroduction of compulsory military service.

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).

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.


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The end of conscription in Bulgaria also meant the end of conscientious objection.

On 25 November 2007, 2413 conscript soldiers completed their nine-month service and stepped into history as the last conscript soldiers in Bulgaria.

In 1998, the Bulgarian army had a complement of about 115 000 people, which was highly inefficient given the economic difficulties of the time.

At a seminar in Plovdiv in Bulgaria, organised by Youth Society for Peace and Development on the Balkans (YSPDB) on behalf of EBCO, YSPDB presented a survey on the situation regarding conscientious objection in Bulgaria. The survey had been done in 2004, and the total sample was 1265 interviewees. Here we present some of the results:


(Friendly settlement)

3 May 2001

In the case of Stefanov v. Bulgaria,

The European Court of Human Rights (Fourth Section), sitting as a Chamber composed of:

Mr G. Ress, President,
Mr A. Pastor Ridruejo,
Mr L. Caflisch,
Mr J. Makarczyk,
Mr V. Butkevych,
Mr J. Hedigan,
Mrs S. Botoucharova, judges,

and Mr V. Berger, Section Registrar,

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