On the International Day of Peace on Sept. 21st, the International Fellowship of Reconciliation, or IFOR,took the floor at the plenary of the 52st session of the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva, delivering a statement on the right of conscientious objection to military service.
IFOR acknowledged the quadrennial thematic report presented by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, or OHCHR, during the council’s last session and highlighted concerning issues, including that certain provisions in wartime were not being complied with according to international standards.
IFOR called on the council to strongly commit to the right to conscientious objection to military service, and to ensure its full implementation as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights from 1948.
As per past practice of the council — following the presentation of the OHCHR thematic report, which took place during the 50th session — a resolution on the right of conscientious objection to military service is expected to be adopted during this session of the council. Ongoing informal negotiations are led by Costa Rica, Croatia and Poland.
The text of the IFOR statement follows.
Madam Vice President,
IFOR welcomes the report of the OHCHR on the right to conscientious objection to military service which has been presented to this Council during the last session. This is of benefit to the entire international community and all concerned individuals around the world.
The report highlighted some positive progress, as the introduction of legal provisions for alternative service in the Republic of Korea [and consequent reduction of imprisoned local objectors].
It also reported the pivotal UN Human Rights Committee Views concerning the Petromelidis v. Greece case which made outstanding jurisprudence on this right.
There are still concerning issues, such as the punitive alternative service which continues to affect many conscientious objectors in several countries.
Unfortunately, there are still some States which do not recognize this human right. Too many objectors continue to be imprisoned or forced to flee their country looking for protection.
As highlighted by the previous Special Rapporteur in his report presented in the 50th session, we are deeply alarmed by the violation of this right in situations of armed conflict, and kindly invite the new Special Rapporteur to continue to monitor such violation. In some countries there are special provisions concerning this right at the time of armed conflict which [differ from the regular provisions and] do not comply with international standards; other countries deny this right in case of mobilization.
Freedom of thought, conscience, and religion is a non-derogable right and it continues to apply regardless of a situation of armed conflict.
The work of this Council is essential to ensure the full enjoyment of the human right of conscientious objection to military service which is inherent in the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion.
IFOR calls upon the Member States to strongly commit to the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion and collaborate to ensure the full implementation of the right to conscientious objection to military service in all countries [in compliance with the international standards].
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