During the 38th session of the Human Rights Council IFOR delivered an oral statement addressed to the Human Rights Commissioner condemning the targeting of conscientious objectors in Turkey and Russia. IFOR maintains a connection to the Turkish Conscientious Objector’s Organization VR-DER Vicdani Ret Dernegi, through our partners, the European Bureau of Conscientious Objection, and War Resisters International. In 2016, VR-DER held an event in honour of those that have refused, on grounds of conscience, to be recruited into the armed forces,. This led to the co-Chair of the organisation being summoned to answer charges of “making propaganda for terror”. IFOR denounced this and similar aggression directed towards nonviolent movements by the Russian Federation.
Viewing entries tagged
On Friday, May 18th, A special session of the Human Rights Council on the current situation in Gaza took place at the United Nations in Geneva. High Commissioner Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein denounced the violence and called for the creation of a Commission Of Inquiry. Many states condemned the attacks in Gaza. IFOR joined several NGOs condemning the attacks. In IFOR’s statement, our representative spoke in support of Israeli conscientious objectors and condemned the Israeli Defense Force, and the U.S. Government, holding them as the most responsible for the atrocities that were committed.
July 03-28, 2017 IFOR's Representatives to the United Nations in Geneva attended the 120th Session of the Human Rights Committee. This synopsis is taken from notes provided by IFOR's Fellow in Geneva, Martina Lanza.
The HR Committee reviewed the implementation of civilian and political rights in Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Honduras, Mongolia and Swaziland. IFOR attended the meetings on Switzerland, Honduras and Mongolia reviews.
In March of 2017 IFOR's representatives in Geneva engaged two important UN Human Rights bodies: the Human Rights Council (34th session) and the Human Rights Committee (119th session).
During the Human Rights Council session, IFOR delivered seven oral statements addressing critical concerns of IFOR members around the world. IFOR spoke to situations in Colombia, Eritrea, Turkey, and Western Sahara in particular as well as issues of torture and the forced recruitment of child soldiers in general.
On March 22, during the general debate following the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights' report on the situation of Human Rights in Colombia, IFOR delivered a statement that spoke to the experiences of its members in Colombia.
The statement was delivered by IFOR Fellow Martina Lanza and it underlined our concern for the ongoing attacks against human rights defenders and on the militarization of the country, even after the peace accords. To read the full statement please click here.
(video of the remarks can be viewed here).
IFOR has deep relationships with human rights defenders in Colombia. IFOR is represented in Colombia by SERPAJ-Colombia and IFOR branches from Sweden, Austria, U.S., and the U.K. work collaboratively to provide protective accompaniment to human rights defenders in several regions of the country. The coordinated work of IFOR Austria, U.S. and U.K. is organized as FOR Peace Presence. IFOR members have accompanied the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó for the past 15 years.
The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) is working on its four-year analytical report on conscientious objection to military service. The report will be introduced and opened to discussion during the June 2017 session of the Human Rights Council.
IFOR responded to the invitation of OHCHR to submit information on the topic last February. In our submission, we concentrate only on developments after 2013, because early details were comprehensively summarized in the first Quadrennial Report (A/HRC/23/22, 3rd June 2013).
Regarding to the international legal and normative framework, the submission reports developments at the UN and regional level. In the second part, it provides analyses, speaks of encouraging developments, best practices and remaining challenges at the national level.
The read the full text of IFOR's submission click here.
February 12, is international day against the use of child soldiers. The UN campaign #childrennotsoldiers (#enfantspassoldats) is being supported by several countries around the world. Through the work of it's Swiss Branch, IFOR began to work more closely with Junior Nzita, the goodwill ambassador for the UN campaign. Now Teenergy, a small company in Montreux, Switzerland specialized in documentary films, is finishing a 26-minute film on child soldiers and the real possibility of demobilization. Parallel to the production of the film is the development of a smartphone app by the University of Geneva. This app shall help child soldiers in process of demobilization. It is about to be used in a pilot project in Colombia. The films will be featured initially by TV5 monde in French and then in English and Spanish by other TV channels. It will be distributed free world wide through UN and various NGO channels including IFOR.
This project is called Away from Arms and IFOR is proud to be partnering with Junior Nzita and Teenergy to support the project and child soldiers around the world. IFOR is represented in the project by Hans Ulrich Gerber.
On February 12, 2017 there will be the launch of the project in Montreux Switzerland. The links below introduce the film and the event. Those near and far interested in this matter and willing to support the project are cordially invited to the event on February 12. We hope many will come and/or spread the word so it finds the necessary support to run over an initial period of 36 months.
- See here the invitation for February 12: https://vimeo.com/teenergy/invitation
- An introduction to the documentary film: https://vimeo.com/teenergy/soldat password: teenergy
Fellowship of Reconciliation Peace Presence, an effort supported by several branches of IFOR, is organizing the Longing for Peace International Delegation April 18 – 27, 2017.
FOR Peace Presence provides physical safety, political visibility and solidarity by accompanying communities and organizations that embrace active nonviolence to defend life, land and dignity.
Colombia is going through an historic but uncertain period. The results of four years of peace negotiations between the government and the FARC-a comprehensive agreement on five areas related to the conflict-was rejected by voters in October 2016 by the narrowest of margins. The Colombian Congress later approved the agreement on November 30th. Amid the hope of what the agreement means concerns about the future of implementation remain.
The delegation will meet with local human rights defenders; human rights and environmental NGOs' women peace leaders; young Conscientious Objectors; Afro-Colombian, indigenous and small scale farmer leaders; and displaced communities. The delegates will learn about the impacts of corporations, and how global demand for energy is devastating communities and destroying vital ecosystems.
For more information about FORPP or the delegation please visit their website here.
IFOR's Main Representative to the UN in Geneva, Derek Brett, submitted a report on Eritrea to the 119th Session of the Human Rights Committee. The report specifically focused on matters of military service, conscientious objection and related human rights concerns in Eritrea.
From the Report:
Of all the world's states, Eritrea is the only one in which military service issues are widely considered to be one of the major human rights concerns. Both men and women are subject to conscription; since 2002, under a situation of general mobilization, the period of service has been prolonged indefinitely. Forced recruitment and abusive treatment within the military are widespread. The right of conscientious objection is not recognized; the only way to escape enlistment is to leave the country. Travel restrictions however mean that few citizens are able to do this legally, and it is believed that a “shoot to kill” policy is in place to prevent persons crossing the border clandestinely. Nevertheless, almost throughout its independent existence Eritrea has, proportionate to population, suffered one of the largest refugee outflows in the world.
To read the full report click here.
Earlier this year, IFOR was pleased to receive a grant from the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust to help expand it's work at the United Nations in support of conscientious objectors around the world. IFOR saw a need to grow the capacity of human rights advocates to defend C.O.s and has created a Fellowship that will allow human rights professionals to learn more about the right to conscientious objection while gaining experience working to support those whose rights are being threatened or violated. The fellows will work along side IFOR's main representative to the UN in Geneva, Derek Brett for a period of 6 to 12 months.
We are pleased to introduce our first IFOR Fellow for this project, Martina Lanza. Martina has an M.A. in Human rights and International Relations and her principal interests are Children’s rights, conscientious objection to military service and nonviolent conflict resolution.
During the 33rd Session of the Human Rights Council, IFOR Fellow Martina Lanza delivered the following statement about Ukrainian Conscientious Objectors and the situation facing young men who object to joining the fighting in Ukraine.
IFOR would like to draw the attention to the plight of young men everywhere in Ukraine who do not wish to become embroiled on either side of the ongoing armed conflict. Some face pressure to join separatist or anti-separatist militias; many more live under the threat of formal conscription into the Government armed forces, which they can avoid only by fleeing the country.
Monday, 26 October 2015 seven activists connected to IFOR’s Belgian branch Agir Pour La Paix appeared in court to face criminal charges for their action on February 11, 2012 to denounce the presence of nuclear weapons on Belgian soil.
The courtroom in Mons was packed with supporters of the Bombspotters, including 3 members of IFOR Germany who traveled to show their support. The IFOR International Coordinator was also there to express solidarity with the Bombspotters. Over 50 Belgian and international organizations have expressed support for the Bombspotters and the importance of their act of civil disobedience.
IFOR Joins FOR England in supporting the Rowntree Charitable Trust
In recent weeks, the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust has come under increased scrutiny by and pressure from British authorities due to it’s funding of a controversial organization in the United Kingdom. The JRCT is a Quaker organization that has a history of supporting peace and reconciliation including work supporting Conscientious Objection through IFOR and others. IFOR joined FOR England in a public letter expressing support for the Trust.
Learn More about the JRCT
Read the letter of support for the JRCT that was published in the Times.
European Court of Justice Advocate General Reinforces Rights of Refusers
In the legal case of U.S. AWOL soldier André Shepherd (37) the European Court of Justice Advocate General, Eleanor Sharpton, today published her final opinion. This official statement contains guiding deliberations for the interpretation of the so-called Qualification Directive of the European Union. Amongst other considerations, these rules state that those endangered by prosecution or punishment for refusal to perform military service involving an illegal war or commital of war crimes, should be protected by the European Union.