Right to Refuse to Kill

War Resisters' International's programme The Right to Refuse to Kill combines a wide range of activities to support conscientious objectors individually, as well as organised groups and movements for conscientious objection.

Our main publications are CO-Alerts (advocacy alerts sent out whenever a conscientious objector is prosecuted) and CO-Updates (a bimonthly look at developments in conscientious objection around the world).

We maintain the CO Guide - A Conscientious Objector's Guide to the International Human Rights System, which can help COs to challenge their own governments, and protect themselves from human rights abuses.

Information about how nation states treat conscientious objectors can be found in our World Survey of Conscientious Objection and recruitment.

More info on the programme is available here.

This year has been perhaps the most crucial year for conscientious objectors in Greece since the establishment of alternative civilian service in 1997-1998. After years of efforts, there was an opportunity for significant changes. Certain improvements in the legislative framework were achieved but the most important one, the reduction of the length of alternative civilian service was quickly annulled after the summer general elections by the new right-wing Greek government.

Five Jehova's witnesses and conscientious objectors from Azerbaijan were prosecuted and sentenced to improsonment for their refusal to perform military service. The European Court of Human Rights says that there had been a violation of the Article 9 (right to freedom of conscience, thought and religion) of the European Convention on Human Rights. 

In Turkmenistan, appeals of two conscientious objectors against their one-year jail terms for refusing compulsory military service were rejected. Nine conscientious objectors are now jailed, six of them in 2019. The United Nations ruled that Turkmenistan violated the rights of three more conscientious objectors jailed in 2013.

On October 9th, Wednesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan launched an invasion into northern Syria. This invasion is an attempt to destroy the political, cultural and economic rights of the Syrian Kurds.

Turkish Armed Forces are the major military power of this initiative, supported by a group of Islamist gangs under the name of the Syrian National Army. Erdoğan’s aim with this operation is to destroy the Kurds. He also opens up space for ISIS to operate.

This is an illegal war that contradicts international treaties.

An Ashgabad court jailed 20-year-old Azat Ashirov for two years on 31 July for refusing compulsory military service on grounds of conscience. He had set out his objections in writing and offered to perform an alternative civilian service. Ashirov's jailing brings to seven the number of Jehovah's Witness conscientious objectors known - as of 5 September - to be serving jail terms of between one and four years. Six of them are imprisoned at the Labour Camp at Seydi in the eastern Lebap Region.

After twenty five days of imprisonment the IDF’s Conscience Committee granted conscientious objector Maya Brand-Feigenbaum a release from military service. "I believe that refusing to serve in the military is the best and most effective way for me to promote anti-war principles and contribute to ending the occupation", she said.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has released a new report on conscientious objection: Approaches and challenges with regard to application procedures for obtaining the status of conscientious objector to military service in accordance with human rights standards

Conscientious objector Yasmin Ricci-Yahav, 18, was imprisoned again for her refusal serve in the army. This is Yasmin's second imprisonment and she will spend 20 more days behind bars. Yasmin was first sentenced to 10 days following her declaration of refusal at the military recruitment centre in Tel Aviv. By the end of her current term, she will have spent a total of 30 days in prison.

A new report on Eritrea published by Human Rights Watch documents the devastating effects of the conscription system on the lives of young Eritreans. In Eritrea, all secondary school students —male and female— are forced to undergo military training to complete their final year. They are sent to Sawa military camp where they follow a schedule combining secondary school classes with compulsory military training.

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