Militarisation of Youth


Use this for stories related to the militarisation of youth


Our Countering the Militarisation of Youth programme identifies and challenges the many ways in which young people around the world are encouraged to accept the military and military values as normal, and worthy of their uncritical support. Militarisation is a process that goes far beyond overt recruitment. It includes the presence and influence of the armed forces in education, public military events such as parades and military-themed video games.

As part of our programme, we bring together a network of activists already working on countering youth militarisation in their own settings, and encourage more people to take action on these issues. Our activities with this aim include:

In August 2014 we launched a website specifically on the topic of youth militarisation. It's a place where you can add your own resources - to share documentation on how young people come into contact with the military, and how to challenge the militarisation of young people around the world. Find it here:

International Week of Action Against the Militarisation of Youth

In June 2013, we supported groups and individuals who took action as part of the first ever International Day of Action for Military-Free Education and Research, followed in 25 - 31 October 2014 by the first week of action for Military-Free Education and Research. Since 2015, WRI has been organising the International Week of Action Against the Militarisation of Youth with the participation of various groups from across the world via their autonomous actions and events. See the reports from 2015 here, and from 2016 here.

Sowing Seeds: The Militarisation of Youth and How to Counter

Following our international conference on Countering the Militarisation of Youth in Darmstadt, Germany, in June 2012, we published a book based on themes explored at the conference: Sowing Seeds: The Militarisation of Youth and How to Counter. It is available to purchase here in English, and available to read for free here.

Gender and Countering Youth Militarisation

In 2017, thanks to the support of the Network for Social Change, we have started a new project, Gender and Countering Youth Militarisation. As part of this project, we are going to organise a number of trainings with grassroots activists from across different countries, focusing on the role of gender in our campaigns against youth militarisation. The project will also include an online resource to be out in 2018, inquiring these issues further with contributions by activists and experts in the field.


International war in the 21st century is less about conscription, and more about 'smart' technology and highly trained mobile forces. In the past, war resisters tried to make conscription unworkable – and they sometimes succeeded. Now, War Resisters' International carries on the struggle against preparations for war and against changing forms of militarism throughout the world, because one aspect of war has not changed: it continues to indiscriminately wreak death and destruction.

Militarisation in the UK generally

'Militarisation' means the ways in which the presence and approaches of the military (typically state armed forces and Defence Ministries) are normalised in a society. Military solutions are prioritised, and the military is privileged in various ways.

A society has to be militarised for a government to justify the development and maintenance of nuclear weapons to its citizens; militarisation creates a culture of acceptance. It popularises military euphemisms such as 'Defence', 'Security', and – particularly relevant to nuclear weapons – 'deterrant', and makes it hard to for those challenging these to be seen as credible.

In September 2012 an antimilitarist action week took place in Germany – an evaluation

The idea of the action week arose from a small group during the 'PAXX (Peace) Action Conference' - an open meeting of antimilitarists – in March 2012 in Mannheim, and was originally related to the sector 'Bundeswehr (the German army) in schools'. Because of the high interest and the request of initiatives of the civil clause movement, the topic was shortly afterwards completed with the sector 'Military and armament research in colleges'. All the proposals were taken up and from September 24 to 29 the action week 'Für militärfreie Bildung und Forschung' (For Military-Free Education and Research) took place. The coordination of the action week, i.e. organisation and dispatch of a nationwide leaflet and maintenance of the action webpage was concentrated in the state of Baden-Württemberg and was taken over by the campaign 'Schulfrei für die Bundeswehr Baden-Württemberg' (No school for the Bundeswehr Baden-Württemberg).

The international study conference on Countering the Militarisation of Youth, which took place from 8-10 June 2012 in Darmstadt, Germany, was a great success. With the conference we made an important step towards more cooperation and exchange among groups working on militarisation of youth in a range of topical areas and countries. For the conference, we brought together 65 participants from 14 countries and four continents, which in itself has been a great achievement. Our discussions enriched our understanding of militarisation, and helped to inspire us how to resist this militarisation.

The issue of child soldiers is back on the global agenda, thanks to two major recent developments. In March, Thomas Lubanga became the first person to be convicted by the International Criminal Court. He was found guilty of forcibly recruiting child soldiers to his Union of Congolese Patriots, known as 'the army of children'. The second, most visible development, was the massive popularity growth of web-based film KONY2012.

In this article we will explain how we understand in what ways politics about gender, sexuality and war are related to each other. We will also tell you about some actions Ofog (anti-militarist network) did against the Swedish Armed Forces participation in the last Pride festival (August 2011).

The US military maintains an Orwellian database containing intimate details on 30 million youth between the ages of 16 and 25, providing local recruiters with personal information to use in a psychological campaign to lure youth within their designated regions. Before meeting, recruiters know what's in Johnny's head, if Johnny has a girlfriend, and what she thinks of his decision regarding enlistment. We'll examine how they do it.

The debate about the “militarisation of research and teaching” is relatively new in Germany, and happens against the background of the restructuring of the German Bundeswehr from an alleged “defence army” to an “army in deployment”. This restructuring and the extent to which it affects the entire German population, are usually underestimated. While the defence army was, by design, relatively evenly distributed over Germany’s territory, at present, several military bases are being closed or merged, and military capabilities are concentrated at some locations.

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