Conscientious Objection to Military Service
QUNO worked for decades to persuade the United Nations to recognise the right of conscientious objection to military service. The first breakthrough came in 1989 with a resolution at the UN Commission on Human Rights recognising conscientious objection as a legitimate exercise of the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. QUNO continued to build on this with subsequent resolutions, in particular Commission resolution 1998/77, as well as working with the Human Rights Committee in relation to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
In November 2006 the right to conscientious objection to military service was recognised unequivocally by the Human Rights Committee, when deciding two cases from the Republic of Korea. The Committee held that the Government had violated Article 18 of the Covenant (right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion) by failing to provide for conscientious objection. In 2010 the Committee reiterated its position, expanding its case law to clearly cover conscientious as well as religious grounds of objection Read More.
Drawing on the UN standards and jurisprudence, QUNO, together with Amnesty International, Conscience and Peace Tax International, International Commission of Jurists and War Resisters' International, submitted an amicus curiae brief to the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Bayatyan v Armenia, in which the Court is considering the question of conscientious objection to military service under the European Human Rights Convention.
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.