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Conscientious objection to military service

The right to conscientious objection to military service is based on article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which guarantees the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion or belief. While the Covenant does not explicitly refer to a right to conscientious objection, in its general comment No. 22 (1993) the Human Rights Committee stated that such a right could be derived from article 18, inasmuch as the obligation to use lethal force might seriously conflict with the freedom of conscience and the right to manifest one’s religion or belief.

The Human Rights Council, and previously the Commission on Human Rights, have also recognized the right of everyone to have conscientious objection to military service as a legitimate exercise of the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, as laid down in article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (see their resolutions which were adopted without a vote in 1989, 1991, 1993, 1995, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2012 and 2013).

For more information, please refer to the United Nations Publication “Conscientious Objection to Military Service” (HR/PUB/12/1).

Reports of the High Commissioner

The High Commissioner for Human Rights has submitted reports on conscientious objection to military service both to the Commission on Human Rights and to the Human Rights Council:

The Human Rights Council, in its resolution 20/2, requested the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to prepare, in consultation with all States, relevant United Nations agencies, programmes and funds, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations and national human rights institutions, a quadrennial analytical report on conscientious objection to military service, in particular on new developments, best practices and remaining challenges.

On 11 January 2017, OHCHR invited the various stakeholders to provide any relevant information pursuant to the request made in resolution 20/2, to feed into the preparation of the analytical report A/HRC/35/4.

Contributions were received from Member States, national human rights institutions and non-governmental organizations, which are available for consultation below (OHCHR is not responsible for external contributions).

Contributions received from States

Contributions received from National Human Rights Institutions

Contributions received from Non-Governmental Organizations

Views of the UN Human Rights Committee on individual cases concerning conscientious objection to military service

  • Nos. 1321-1322/2004, Yoon and Choi v. Republic of Korea, Views adopted on 3 November 2006
  • Nos. 1593-1603/2007, Jung et al. v. Republic of Korea, Views adopted on 23 March 2010
  • Nos. 1642-1741/2007, Jeong et al. v. Republic of Korea, Views adopted on 24 March 2011
  • Nos. 1853-1854/2008, Atasoy and Sarkut v. Turkey, Views adopted on 29 March 2012
  • No. 1786/2008, Jong-nam Kim et al. v. Republic of Korea, Views adopted on 25 October 2012
  • No. 2179/2012, Young-kwan Kim et al. v. Republic of Korea, Views adopted on 15 October 2014
  • No. 2218/2012, Abdullayev v. Turkmenistan, Views adopted on 25 March 2015
  • No. 2221/2012, Mahmud Hudaybergenov v. Turkmenistan, Views adopted on 29 October 2015
  • No. 2222/2012, Ahmet Hudaybergenov v. Turkmenistan, Views adopted on 29 October 2015
  • No. 2223/2012, Japparow v. Turkmenistan, Views adopted on 29 October 2015
  • No. 2220/2012, Aminov v. Turkmenistan, Views adopted on 14 July 2016
  • No. 2224/2012, Matyakubov v. Turkmenistan, Views adopted on 14 July 2016
  • No. 2227/2012, Yegendurdyyew v. Turkmenistan, Views adopted on 14 July 2016
  • No. 2219/2012, Nasyrlayev v. Turkmenistan, Views adopted on 15 July 2016
  • No. 2225/2012, Nurjanov v. Turkmenistan, Views adopted on 15 July 2016
  • No. 2226/2012, Uchetov v. Turkmenistan, Views adopted on 15 July 2016