From our Affiliates

DFG-VK Votes to Double its Affiliation Fee to the WRI.

In Hamburg last November Gernot Lennert, the anti-militarist answer to Jørgen Klinsman, scored the most marvelous goal for WRI in Germany since the Berlin Coundl meeting of 1990. The goal followed an incisive tactical build-up and delicate interpassing with WRI's French star Dominique Saillard.

Lennert began the move with a shrewd agenda-change resolution, a manoeuvre rarely seen outside Germany, opening the way for Saillard to face the assembled ranks of the DFG-VK. She took the ball down the left bye-line and sent back a perfectly angled cross. Lennert rose like a dolphin, brushing aside a belated tackle from the IPB's floundering defender, and forced it home. The crowd went mad; their roar echoed from Hamburg to London and on to the Treasurer in New York.

This season the veteran activist Lennert has been playing with more consistency than ever, allying his characteristic commitment with a new strategic awareness and sense of timing. Great things are predicted for the Frankfurter. Well done, Gernot!

SPAS Orders 5,000 Broken Rifle Badges: What About You?

What a nice way to start the year! A phone call from SPAS in Sweden, ordering 5,000 badges from the office to give one free badge to each of its members. Everybody was happy: SPAS, who received a special discount on the price, and the WRI staff and treasurer, who are trying to increase the sales of the famous pacifist symbol. Although we are unlikely to reach the sale level of 1982, when the badges brought in about half of WRI's total income, our 75th anniversary might be the ideal opportunity to get more broken rifles out onto shirts, sweaters, coats, hats, backpacks, and onto the streets. We will soon have to re-order from our manufacturers, so why not contacting us now and making a special deal? Badges cost £1 each or £65 per 100 (including postage), but we will be glad to negotiate better prices for orders above 1,000.

MOC (France) to Focus International CO Day on Kosovo

The Mouvement des Objecteurs de Conscience has decided to mark 15 May - International CO Day -with a series of actions in support of the nonviolent resistance in Kosovo, in co-operation with local groups of the Mouvement pour tine Action Non-violente (MAN). Activities would be organised regionally and include such elenients as public meetings, street theatre, support of the "Rugova: Nobel Peace Prize" campaign and the lobbying of the French government in favour of Kosovar refugees and deserters.

Contact: Mario Pedretli, 10 rue Royer, 59140 Dunkerque (+33 28 66 60 45).

Note. The report from the MAN delegation to Kosovo and Serbia (101 pages, FF 69 + FF16 postage) is available from the MAN secretariat, 21ter rue Voltaire, 75011 Paris (+33 1 43 79 79 85; fax: 43 7901 30).

France: Chirac Announces the Abolition of Conscription

On 22 February, President Chirac announced the end of conscription in France by the year 2001. Arguing that the French armed forces were oversized, too unwieldy and expensive for use in modern warfare, he said he favoured the creation of a smaller, highly mobile British-style professional army, which would be more suitable, in his words, "for projection overseas in significant numbers --50 to 60,000 -- in rapid and organised conditions". The total number of soldiers in the armed forces should decrease from 500,000 to 350,000.

While military service in its present form would be abolished, Chirac envisaged two means of retaining the "great Republican tradition" of service to the nation. Young men could be called up to do a compulsory, mainly civilian service (in 90% of the cases) for a period of six months. Or the State could institute an entirely civilian service, open to both men and women on a voluntary basis.

We have asked our French affiliates to send us their initial reactions.

Union Pacifiste de France (UPF)

On 22 February 1996, (...) Jacques Chirac, commander in chief of the French armed forces, announced the dissolution of a third of the regiments, the restructuring of the arms industry, the closure of a land missile site (Plateau d'Albion), and -- the "icing on the cake" for young voters -- the abolition of military service by 2001.

(...) Real pacifists believe both the professional army and conscription should be abolished. Significantly, the professionalisation of the army is aimed at reinforcing a rapid reaction force better able to commit aggression, terrorise and torture people at home or abroad.

The abandonment of the nuclear land-based deterrence (but not the Mirage 2000F or nuclear submarines) and the closure of the Moruroa Attol testing site prove -- if that were necessary -- that the pacifists were once again right, too soon.

How many more billions of francs must be squandered, in order to satisfy the military paranoia, before reforming amateur and professional criminals? Why wait for the complete ecoilomic collapse of a state before eliminating all of France's armed forces? (...)

Is it not absurd to seek to impose on women and men six months' civilian service -- a poor substitute for the courageous, voluntary and generous conscientious objection of our world without war pioneers?

Surely the eventual recognition that our country does not need 201,523 conscripts in 1996, (...) and the reduction of the sacrosanct 1996 defence budget by just ten percent (at 185 billions francs, it is still one of the major items in the national budget) (...) demonstrates the timeliness of bill No.271, on French unilateral disarmament, proposed in the Senate on 23 April 1993 on the initiative of Union Pacifiste. Union Pacifiste is waiting impatiently for the release of all those total objectors and deserters who are imprisoned before acknowledging these timid first steps toward disarmament."

Mouvement pour une Alternative Non-violente

In a press release titled "For a Civilian Peace Service, the Mouvement pour une Alternative Non-violente (MAN) welcomes some of the decisions made by the head of state, but regrets that he "has not questioned the existence of major armaments programmes, or the central role of the nuclear deterrent in our system of armed defence, a deterrent which has become obsolete with the disappearance of the Soviet menace". (...)

"The abolition of compulsory military service within 6 years signals the end of the service performed by conscientious objectors", whose "discriminatory character (...)-- twice as long a period as that for military service -- was often a negative experience for young people wanting to help build a more equitable society." MAN notes that "the struggle to get civilian service for peace established, based on a corps of volunteers, is (...)very timely. Anyone, regardless of age or gender, should be able to engage in a peace service for the benefit of the community, in their own country, for instance in efforts to reduce social dislocation or in conflict zones, such as Kosovo, where MAN has backed Albaniancivilian resistance for three years.

(...)In proposing such a peace service - following the example of German NGOs working for peace and disarmament -- MAN hopes to show that its notion of collective security, based on the exercise of citizenship, should not be reduced to the purely military aspects of defence". (...) "Defence is an essentially civilian activity which should to be the business of every dtizen."

Mouvement des Objecteurs de Conscience

The Mouvement des Objecteurs de Conscience (MOC) "denounces the president's two proposals to establish a "civilian service."

We declare that we are against compulsory service which, having forced military training on conscripts, now seeks to make them perform compulsory labour service.

We are equally opposed to the notion of voluntary civilian service, which, while having nothing to do with defence, threatens to fragilise the situation of wage earners.

In the light of the announced increase in the number of conscripts in the police and gendarmerie, we oppose efforts to deal with social problems by fostering a security-mentality which contributes to the militarisation of society.

In coming months we will re-dedicate ourselves to the campaign for recognition of the right of all to conscientious objection, even if they are professional military personnel.

With the growing professionalisation of armies, defence questions should not remain the exclusive concern of the military hierarchy and a few self-proclaimed specialists. We stress that there should be the widest possible public debate on the main aspects of French defence policy."

Mouvement International pour la Réconciliation (MIR)

(...) "Despite of the absence of dialogue and democratic debate before reaching this decision, the French branch of the Mouvement International de Ia R&onciliation (MIR: International Fellowship of Reconciliation) is pleased about the abolition of conssription. It recalls the long, hard years of struggle since its foundation in 1923, and the imprisonment of some of its members out to achieve the right not to perform such military service.

The standing army, both entirely and partially professional, is still an instrument of war, an unacceptable means of settling conflicts. Today, more than ever before, preventive diplomacy needs to be employed, training in conflict mediation developed and non-violent civilian defence evolved. Within these framework MIR can promote the notion of voluntary, international civilian service.

The right to conscientious objection for professional troops at all times, and for conscripts whcn partial or general conscription is liable to be reinstated in time of war, should be legally safeguarded or even enshrined in the constitution."

WRI Affiliates on the World Wide Web

Kampagne gegen Wehrpflicht, Germany: http://www.snafu.de/campaign/kampagne.html

Kampanjen Mot Verneplikt, Norway: http://pluto.wit.no/doogie/ga/huset/kmv/

MOC_Barcelona, state of Spain: http://www.pangea.org/mocbcn/index.html

MOC-Valencia, state of Spain: http://www.uv.es/~alminyan/

Vereniging Dienstweigeraars, Netherlands: http:IIhuizen.dds.nl/veedee/

War Resisters League, USA: http://www.netaxs.com/nvweb/wrl/