WRI Council member and MEP Tobias Pflüger publishes documentation on conscientious objection in the European Union

RRtK update 2008RRtK update 2008

In November 2008, WRI Council member and MEP Tobias Pflüger published a new publication on "Professional soldiers and the right to conscientious objection in the European Union", based on research of War Resisters' International. The publication provides an overview of the present state of the right to conscientious objection in the European Union, including the candidate countries Croatia, Turkey, and FYROM (Macedonia). It was produced in close co-operation with War Resisters' International (WRI). It builts on the global survey on the situation of conscientious objectors by War Resisters' International from 1998 and their update by Quaker Council for European Affairs (QCEA) from 2005. For the publication the survey has undergone a major update; it has been reworked and brought up to date, as the situation in many countries changed a lot since 2005.

For the first time this publication attempts to systematically also provide information on the right to conscientious objection for contract and professional soldiers. In became clear that on this issue there is a lack of information. Only five countries (Austria, Denmark, Ireland, Hungary, and Turkey) replied to a questionnaire sent by War Resisters' International to all embassies of the relevant countries in November 2007, and even those replies often were not satisfactory in relation to the information given, and did not contribute much to understanding the situation.
With the trend towards the professionalisation of the military in Europe, another development occurs mainly unnoticed: the right to conscientious objection, which has been widely recognised in the European Union, is being weakened. Generally, it is not available to professional soldiers. Also the implementation of the right to conscientious objection for conscripts in the different members and candidate countries does often not comply with international standards.

With the increased use of a professionalised military within the framework of NATO, the EU or the United Nations (or within ad-hoc coalitions), the right to conscientious objection is more important than ever for those soldiers who need it.
The publication is available free of charge from War Resisters' International and the office of Tobias Pflüger MEP. However, there will be a charge for postage and packaging. Please contact the WRI office for more information at info@wri-irg.org.