United Nations


A coalition of more than a hundred NGOs has called for an immediate international arms embargo on Myanmar, as a response to the military coup that took place in early February.

In December, War Resisters' International has submitted a report to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). The submission was in response to the OHCHR's request for information on different approaches and challenges with regard to application procedures for conscientious objection to military service.

In early July, following years of campaigning from anti-nuclear activists, the United Nations formally adopted a treaty that categorically prohibits nuclear weapons. Read more from the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. This news was met with joy amongst those staying at the Coulport Disarmament camp – run by Trident Ploughshares – who undertook ten days of direct action at the nuclear weapons depot on Loch Long.

From the Quaker United Nations Office:

 The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has issued a call for inputs on the issue of conscientious objection to military service (see attached file).

The compiled information will lead to a new UN report on the topic. The report will provide the most comprehensive outline

Return to Conscientious Objection: A Practical Companion for Movements

Rachel Brett (LLM in International Human rights Law) is a British Quaker based in Geneva, Switzerland, where she is an Adviser to the Quaker UN Office, having just retired as their Human Rights & Refugees Representative after 21 years during which she helped to gain recognition of conscientious objection to military service as a human right. She serves on the War Resisters' International Right to Refuse to Kill Committee. Here, she gives as an overview of conscientious objection in international law.

Explicit international recognition of a right to conscientiously object to military service is relatively new with only two regional human rights standards doing so: the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and the Ibero-American Youth Convention. However, older international and regional human rights treaties – specifically the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the European Human Rights Convention – have been reinterpreted to include conscientious objection to military service, and various of the UN's human rights bodies and mechanisms have endorsed conscientious objection.

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