Rapport de pays: France



  • France does not recognise the right to conscientious objection for professional soldiers.

Military recruitment


In 2001, France ended conscription in peacetime1. This was based on a change of the National Service Law in 19972. However, conscription is in fact only suspended, and can be reintroduced in times of war or an emergency. The relevant articles of the National Service Law have been changed in a way that presently they are suspended for persons born after 31 December 19783. They can easily be reinstated.

Conscription has been replaced by a compulsory one day "rendez-vous citoyen" (national day of preparation for national defence). All young men and women between the ages of 16 and 18 are obliged to participate in this day. On this day, people have civil status and do not have to bear arms or wear a uniform or be subjected to military discipline. Participation in the "rendez-vous citoyen" is a necessary condition for taking part in final examinations or obtaining a diploma in state universities4.

Professional soldiers

The service of professional soldiers is regulated in the Defence Law (Code de la Defense)5

Conscientious objection

Conscientious objection for conscripts

The right to conscientious objection was legally recognised in 1963. French CO legislation was restrictive and did not comply with international standards on conscientious objection. CO applications could only be made before starting military service and not by serving conscripts, and substitute service lasted twice as long as military service. In 1999, the United Nations Human Rights Committee came to the conclusion that this length of substitute service constituted a violation of article 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights6.

Compared to other European countries, the number of COs in France has always remained relatively low. During the 1990s approx. 6,000 CO applications were made per year, which was only 3 per cent of all eligible conscripts.

With the suspension of conscription in 2001, the 1983 Law on Conscientious Objection (Law 83/605) became applicable only to men born before 31 December 1978. Consequently, young men who are born after 1979 have no possibility of claiming the right to conscientious objection.

Conscientious objection for professional soldiers

The right to conscientious objectors is not recognised for professional soldiers.

Draft evasion and desertion

No information on practice is available.


1France salutes end of military service, BBC News Service, 29 November 2001, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/1682777.stm, accessed 2 May 2008

4The Right to Conscientious Objection in Europe, Quaker Council for European Affairs, 2005, http://wri-irg.org/co/rtba/france.htm, accessed 2 May 2008

6Communication Nº 666/1995 : France. 09/11/99. CCPR/C/67/D/666/1995. (Jurisprudence), http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/(Symbol)/0c8f045e5407717e8025686900523f13?Opendocument, accessed 9 October 2008

Rrtk-update-2008-France.pdf177.12 KB

Co related articles

20 févr. 2009

Andreas Speck es insumiso y activista histórico del movimiento pacifista y antinuclear en Alemania. En la actualidad es coordinador de la Internacional de Resistentes a la Guerra (una red pacifista mundial de grupos y personas fundada en 1921) para los programas de apoyo a la objeción de conciencia en países como Colombia, Israel, Grecia, Chile y Corea del Sur.

15 janv. 2009

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.

09 nov. 1999



9 November 1999

Original: ENGLISH


Sixty-seventh session

18 October - 5 November 1999


Submitted by : Frédéric Foin (represented by François Roux, lawyer in France)

Alleged victim: The author

State party: France

Date of communication: 20 July 1995 (initial submission)

Date of adoption of Views: 9 November 1999

04 août 1997

4 August 1997


19. Le Comité est préoccupé par le fait que, pour exercer le droit d'objection de conscience à l'égard du service militaire, qui fait partie de la liberté de conscience au regard de l'article 18 du Pacte, la demande doit être faite avant l'incorporation du conscrit, et le fait que ce droit ne peut être exercé par la suite. De plus, le Comité note que la durée du service de remplacement est deux fois plus grande que celle du service militaire et que cela peut soulever des questions de compatibilité avec l'article 18 du Pacte.


01 août 1991

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A framework for female objection to military service was one of the fruits of the “Assises de l'objection”, a three-day meeting on CO issues organised by the Le Cun du Larzac community in southern France.