Areas of Work

Conscientious Objection to Military Service

QUNO worked for decades to persuade the United Nations to recognise the right of conscientious objection to military service. QUNO also works with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on the applicable standards in relation to asylum for conscientious objectors, draft evaders and deserters.

In May 2013, War Resisters International​, together with QUNO, the Centre for Civil and Political Rights, and Conscience and Peace Tax International, published the online interactive Conscientious Objector's Guide to the International Human Rights System for conscientious objectors to military service anywhere in the world who struggle for the recognition of their right to conscientious objection, or against discrimination for being a conscientious objector, and who want to use international or regional human rights systems. 

Recent Timeline Events

May 2014

Meeting of the European Bureau of Conscientious Objectors in Brussels

QUNO attended the meeting of the European Bureau of Conscientious Objectors in Brussels. At the meeting, QUNO reported on recent developments at the United Nations regarding the right of conscientious objection to military service. In particular, QUNO highlighted new Guidelines on International Protection issued in December 2013 by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, which focus specifically on claims to refugee status related to military service. In addition, Emily Graham from QUNO discussed the practical implications of refusing military service, focusing on the lack of necessary identity documentation and discrimination. 
 

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March 2014

QUNO co-sponsors 'Conscientious Objection to Military Service: Challenges and International Responses' Human Rights Council side event

At the 25th session of the Human Rights Council, QUNO co-sponsored a side-event entitled “Conscientious Objection to Military Service: Challenges and International Responses”, with the Permanent Missions of Costa Rica, Croatia and Poland. During this side event, which was moderated by Rachel Brett from QUNO, the panellists explored different elements of the right to conscientious objection. The Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, Heiner Bielefeldt, addressed the philosophical underpinnings of conscience and the right to conscientious objection. Sir Nigel Rodley, the Chairperson of the Human Rights Committee, discussed developments within the Committee regarding conscientious objection. The third speaker, Emily Graham from QUNO addressed the practical implications of refusing military service, including prosecution and imprisonment but also fines, lack of necessary identity documentation and discrimination.

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