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D.2.b. Conscientious Resistance and Legal Frameworks

Ajangiz, Rafa, The European Farewell to Conscription, In , The Comparative Study of Conscription in the Armed Forces Oxford, JAI/Elseveer, , 2002, pp. 307-333

Discusses the relative impact of ‘reasons of state’ and ‘social mobilization’ (against conscription) as factors leading to the abandonment of conscription.

Amnesty International, Out of the Margins: The Right to Conscientious Objection to Military Service in Europe, London, Amnesty International, 1997, pp. 61

Surveys provisions for conscientious objection to military service, and expresses particular concerns in relation to treatment of COs in some countries. Recommends the release of all COs in prison, that all member states of EU and Council of Europe re-examine their legislation regarding conscientious objection, and that the EU include in the criteria for membership the recognition of conscientious objection and provisions for alternative service ‘of non-punitive length’.

Biesemans, Sam, The Right to Conscientious Objection and the European Parliament, Brussels, European Bureau for Conscientious Objection, 1995, pp. 109

Urges incorporation of right to conscientious objection in national constitutions, and the European Convention of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

Blatt, Martin ; Davis, Uri ; Kleinbaum, Paul, Dissent and Ideology in Israel: Resistance to the Draft,1948-1973, London, Ithaca Press for Housmans Bookshop, WRI, Middle East Research Group (MERAG) and Lansbury House Trust Fund, 1975, pp. 194

Accounts by Israeli conscientious objectors of their experience and the reasons for their stance. Editors relate these to a critique of Zionism.

Braithwaite, Constance, Conscientious Objection to Compulsions Under the Law, York, William Sessions, 1995, pp. 421

History of conscientious objection to compliance with various legal provisions involving compulsion of citizens, including taking of oaths, vaccination and religious education. Chapter on ethical and political problems related to conscientious objections takes the form of imaginary dialogue between author and a critic of her thesis.

Brock, Hannah, The Return of Conscription?, War Resisters' International, 18/01/2018,

The author, a full time worker at War Resisters' International with a focus on support for conscientious objectors to military service, discusses whether the previous trend towards the abolition of conscription around the world is being reversed. She notes that it has been reintroduced in Ukraine, Georgia, Lithuania and Kuwait (after a short period when it was not in force) and introduced for the first time by Qatar and the United Arab Emirates; in total over 100 states practice, responding with varying degrees of harshness to objectors. Most states impose conscription for men, but both Norway and Sweden (where it h ad been reintroduced) extend it to women. The article discusses the varying regional security situations, which influence states to use conscription and carrying rounds for exemption.

Brock, Peter, These Strange Criminals’: An Anthology of Prison Memoirs by Conscientious Objectors from the Great War to the Cold War, Toronto, University of Toronto Press, 2004, pp. 505

Anthology of prison memoirs by conscientious objectors from World War One to the Cold War. Contributions from Britain, Canada, New Zealand and the USA.

Casquette, Jesus, The Sociopolitical Context of Mobilization: The Case of the Anti-Militarist Movement in the Basque Country, Mobilization: An International Quarterly, Vol. 1, issue 2 (Sept), 1996, pp. 203-212

Cinar, Ozgur Heval, Conscientious Objection to Military Service in International Human Rights Law, New York, Palgrave Macmillan, 2013, pp. 276

An updated overview of the recognition of the right to conscientious objection in international human rights law, with a focus on the UN and Council of Europe.

Cinar, Ozgur Heval ; Usterci, Coskun, Conscientious Objection: Resisting Militarized Society, London, Zed Books, 2009, pp. 272

Collections of essays: Part 1 comprises Turkish experience and viewpoints; Part 2 examines conscientious objection from gender perspectives; Part 3 examines C.O. struggles in different parts of the world and Part 4 looks at conscientious objection and the law.

Conscience and Peace Tax International, Fifth International Conference on War Tax Resistance and Peace Tax Campaigns, Founding Assembly of Conscience and Peace Tax International: Hondarribia, September 16-19 1994, Hondarribia, Spain, Asamblea de Objecion Fiscal de Navarra, 1994, pp. 111

Text of contributions, workshop reports and summaries of discussions. Conscience and Peace Tax International was established in Brussels as a non-profit association under Belgian law.

Ellner, Andrea ; Robinson, Paul ; Whetham, David, When Soldiers Say No: Selective Conscientious Objection in the Modern Military, Farnham, Ashgate, 2014, pp. 290

Explores theoretical arguments for and against selective objection, together with case studies from US, Britain, Australia, Germany and Israel.

Elster, Ellen ; Sørensen, Majken Jul, Women Conscientious Objectors: An Anthology, London, War Resisters' International, 2010, pp. 156

A collection of essays by and about women COs in USA, Europe, Turkey, Israel, Eritrea, Korea, Paraguay and Colombia.

Translations: Spanish
Flynn, Eileen P., My Country Right or Wrong: Selective Conscientious Objection in the Nuclear Age, Chicago IL, Loyola University Press, 1985, pp. 98

Discusses varieties of conscientious objection, from pacifist objection to all wars, selective objection to particular wars considered unjust and objection to indiscriminate and, most notably, nuclear warfare. Includes a discussion of just war principles.

Horeman, Bart ; Stolwijk, Marc, Refusing to Bear Arms: A World Survey of Conscription and Conscientious Objection to Military Service, Foreword by Devid Prasad, London, War Resisters' International, 1998, pp. 310

The most authoritative country by country survey of the position on conscription and conscientious objection in all member states of the UN, following the same formula in each case and setting out legal possibilities for avoiding military service. Historical overview of the evolution of conscription and conscientious objection appended to many country reports. There are also often additional sections on forced recruitment by non-governmental armed groups. Each report is dated. The online version includes updates, especially 2008, on all the countries (and then candidate countries) in the Council of Europe, see http://www.wri-irg.org/co/rtba/index.html. The 2008 update also published separately as: War Resisters' International, Professional soldiers and the right to conscientious objection in the European Union Brussels, Tobias Pfluger MEP, European Parliamentary Group European United Left/Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL), , 2008, pp. 60

Lainer-Vos, Dan, Social Movements and Citizenship: Conscientious Objection in France, the United States and Israel, Mobilization: An International Quarterly, Vol. 11, issue 3 (Oct), 2006, pp. 277-295

Compares movements of objection to the French war in Algeria, the US War in Vietnam and Israel’s invasion of Lebanon.

Moskos, Charles C. ; Chambers, John Whiteclay, The New Conscientious Objection: From Sacred to Secular Resistance, Oxford and New York, Oxford University Press, 1993, pp. 286

Section 1 suggests ‘the secularization of conscience and modern individ-ualism have been the driving force’ in the rise of conscientious objection. Section 2 looks at the historical record in the USA. Section 3 has articles on France, the Federal Republic of Germany, Denmark, Norway, Switzerland, the former Communist states in Eastern Europe, Israel and South Africa.

Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights, Conscientious Objection to Military Service, Geneva, United Nations Publications, 2012, pp. 90

also available in Arabic, French, Russian, Spanish (pdf)

Translations: French | Spanish
Pentikainen, Merja, The Right to Refuse Military Orders, Geneva, International Peace Bureau in collaboration with International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms, Peace Union of Finland and Finnish Lawyers for Peace and Survival, 1994, pp. 110

Contributions on various forms of refusal – to do military service, to fire at one’s own people, to participate in torture, or to accept orders relating to nuclear weapons – together with summaries of relevant international law.

Quaker Council for European Affairs, Conscientious Objection to Military Service in Europe, Report for the Council of Europe, Parliamentary Assembly, Legal Affairs Committee, Brussels, Quaker Council for European Affairs, 1984, pp. 99

Sets out the legal provision for COs in all the European states at that date. Notes the importance of resolutions in support of making provisions for COs adopted by the Council of Europe in 1967, the UN in 1978 and the European Parliament in 1983.

Quaker Peace and Service, Taxes for Peace Not War: 6th International Conference on Peace Tax Campaigns and War Tax Resistance, London, Quaker Peace and Service, 1997, pp. 51

Assesses the impact of peace tax campaigns in the area of peacemaking and considers their possible future influence.

Rohr, John A., Prophets Without Honor: Public Policy and the Selective Conscientious Objector, Nashville and New York, Abingdon Press, 1971, pp. 191

Examines lack of a constitutional right or political tolerance for selective refusal to take part in particular wars.

Schlissel, Lillian, Conscience in America: A Documentary History of Conscientious Objection in America, 1757-1967, New York, E.P. Dutton, 1968, pp. 444

Documents and statements on conscientious objection, later sections cover COs in two world wars and Vietnam, and case for tax resistance.

Socknat, Thomas, Conscientious Objection in the Context of Canadian Peace Movements, Journal of Mennonite Studies, Vol. 25, 2007, pp. 61-74

War Resisters' International, A Conscientious Objector’s Guide to the International Human Rights Systems, London, War Resisters' International, 2013

A frequently updated overview of international human rights mechanisms available to conscientious objectors, including a wealth of case law (also downloadable as pdf).

Translations: Spanish
War Resisters' International, Conscientious Objection: A Practical Companion for Movements, London, War Resisters' International, 2015, pp. 192

A practical companion for conscientious objection movements and all those whose work forms part of the continuum of war resistance. It has been written by activists who are campaigning against all kinds of injustice, all over the world. 

Zemlinskaya, Yulia, Cultural Context and Social Movement Outcomes: Conscientious Objectors and Draft Resistance Movement Organizations in Israel, Mobilization: An International Quarterly, Vol. 14, issue 4 (Dec), 2009, pp. 449-466

Comparative analysis of two Israeli organizations supporting conscientious objection and draft resistance during the Second Palestinian Intifada, exploring impact of Israeli culture on tactics and how different tactics of two organizations have different impact in Israel.

See also:

A.J. Muste, Of holy disobedienceIn Hentoff, The Essays of A.J. Muste (D.2.a. Pacifist and Nonviolent Thought), on case for total resistance to conscription as opposed to alternative civilian service.