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.
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Lithuania reintroduced conscription to military service in 2015 for males 19 years of age and older. Although the government provides alternative to service, IFOR submits a report to the Human Rights Committee expressing concern about the ways these alternatives are militaristic in nature. These alternatives illustrate the way government institutions often circumvent the international right to conscientious objection.
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.
IFOR submitted a report on the status of the right to conscientious objection in Israel to the attention of the Country Report Task Force on Military Service in Israel for the 123 Session of the Human Rights Committee.
From the report: "The Israeli Defense Force (IDF) is organized as a citizen's militia. In principle, men and women alike are required to perform obligatory military service, almost always starting on leaving school at the age of 18, and subsequently to report for one month's active reserve duty, until the age of 40 for men and for women until marriage, pregnancy or age 38. In practice, only Jewish Israelis and men from the Druze community are affected. Other "Arab Israelis" are not called up and the Ultra-Orthodox have also in the past benefited from a variety of exemptions. There is however no effective legal provision governing cases of conscientious objection to military service."
To read IFOR's Full Submission Click Here.
IFOR's Representatives to the United Nations in Geneva worked closely with the dedicated international observation program supported by several IFOR branches known as FOR Peace Presence, to describe ongoing attacks on conscientious objectors and human rights defenders in Colombia. On February 2, they submitted a statement to the United Nations Human Rights Council about the ongoing situation in Colombia.
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.
From June 6-23 IFOR's Representatives in Geneva attended the 35th Session of the UN Human Rights Council. IFOR's Representatives Derek Brett, Hans Ulrich Gerber and IFOR Fellow Martina Lanza worked with IFOR's members and contacts around the world to provide make oral statements, submit written statements and host side events during the council.
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.
During the first week of the 34th session of the UN Human Rights Council, IFOR held a side event titled “Human rights in Turkey”.
The event was moderated by IFOR Fellow, Martina Lanza and featured the following panelists:
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.
January 15-20, IFOR’s International Coordinator visited South Sudan, at the invitation of the Organization for Nonviolence and Development (ONAD). ONAD has been a part of IFOR since 2006. The visit was primarily to express solidarity with ONAD and the South Sudanese people in this period of intense violence in the country. The IFOR International Committee (ICOM) has long sought to prioritize support for nonviolent movements in Africa. The most recent months of violence in South Sudan have caused global concerned that the country was teetering towards genocide. ICOM and the International Secretariat felt it critical to express support for ONAD and find ways to amplify their efforts in the country.
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.