Conscientious objection: Legal practices and frameworks among EU member states

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.



  • Conscription is suspended. Little is know about the situation of professional soldiers who want to apply for conscientious objection.

Military recruitment


The Dutch Constitution (art. 98) states: "1. The armed forces shall consist of volunteers and may also include conscripts.

2. Compulsory military service and the power to defer the call-up to active service shall be regulated by Act of Parliament.

Conscientious Objection to Military Service: Issues for the Country Report Task Forces - NETHERLANDS

Submission to the 94th Session of the Human Rights Committee: October 2008

Obligatory military service was suspended in the Netherlands in 1996, but the provisions governing such service, and the arrangements for conscientious objection, remain on the statute book. All males are required to register for military service; there is no provision for registering as a conscientious objector.

Dutch Court of Appeal finds insufficient evidence to convict conflict timber trader

On 10 th March 2008, the Court of Appeal in The Hague cleared Guus Van Kouwenhoven, a " member of [Charles] Taylor's Inner Circle, " of breaking the United Nations arms embargo enforced against Liberia. " The barbaric regime of Charles Taylor was financed and maintained by the revenues generated from the timber trade, in which Guus Van Kouwenhoven was the biggest player.

Campaign of the Month: Campaign against ECAs by Campaign Against Arms Trade in the Netherlands

Export Credit Agencies (ECAs) – are publicly backed government or semi-government agencies which give financial guarantees to companies operating abroad – they are the single largest source of taxpayer support for private sector companies seeking to off-load on to the public the financial risks of their business projects in the South and Eastern Europe.

Paul Westerman v. the Netherlands, Communication No. 682/1996

Views of the Human Rights Committee under article 5, paragraph 4,

of the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil

and Political Rights

- Sixty-seventh session -

Communication No 682/1996

Submitted by: Paul Westerman(represented by E. Th. Hummels, legal counsel)

Alleged victim: The author

State party: The Netherlands

Date of communication: 22 November 1995

The Human Rights Committee, established under article 28 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,

War and Peace: For Men Only?

by Shelley Anderson

"Before the war, a group of women decided to go to the border with flowers for the soldiers," Sanda Muminovic of Bosnia said. "I will never forget how those soldiers looked at us, like we were boring flies. We threw our flowers into the river and went home. It was too little, too late. While we were buying flowers, they were buying guns."

Syndicate content