No to a military European Union

On 29 October, the new constitution for the European Union will be signed during a special ceremony in Rome. It then needs to go through the ratification process in the 25 member states of the European Union. The new European Constitution is not just a legal document of more than 300 pages - together with the European Security Strategy, which was approved on 12 December 2003, it will be a milestone in the militarisation of the European Union. While the war on Iraq lead many antimilitarists to a focus on US militarism, it is important to not forget about Europe.

Demilitarisation in the global context

When I got involved in the peace movement, back in the early 1980s in Germany, there was a sticker that was very popular. It read "Imagine there is a war and nobody joins"[1]

Of course, this is very naive, but still the idea is important, and it also it points to the important fact that every war is fought by people - human beings who could also make a different decision and "not join". My organisation, War Resisters' International, was founded back in 1921 to support people who don't want to join a war - conscientious objectors, war resisters, and deserters. But "not joining" goes beyond the mere refusal to fight, to join the military. War means that an entire society is organised to go to war - it is a mindset, and it includes participation on all levels of society.

A military constitution for the European Union?

Or: The EU too is geared towards war In July 2003, the European Convention presented a draft European Constitution, consisting of 260 pages, divided into four chapters, plus several appendices and additional agreements, which will also have constitutional status. While this constitution puts all the different EU treaties (with the exception of Euratom) into one huge document, it is not just that. Even the European Commission had to admit that it "completely rewrites the originals", as far as foreign actions and security are concerned. "[I]t develops the common security and defence policy and enables those Member States wishing to do so to enhance their capacity for action within a common framework." [1].

Conscientious objection in South Korea

A young movement in search of direction In March 2003 an international conference on conscientious objection to military service, taking place in Seoul, attracted more than 400 participants over two days. The spectrum of participants was unusually broad: students, human rights lawyers, representatives from the Jehovah's Witnesses and the Seventh Day Adventist Church, and representatives from some smaller South Korean parties.

Militarism in everyday life - a street performance on International CO day

It's 15 May 2003, Tel Aviv, Israel: a military wedding, groom, bride, and the rabbi in uniform, as are the guests. The pair march up to the rabbi, get married, and then march out, followed by their marching guests. Fast forward: the pair march through the streets, the uniformed pregnant wife gives birth to a baby dressed in uniform, while the uniformed husband stands next to her, saluting.

Against which war? And which movement?

On the "Stop the war" demonstration on 28 September

The last Saturday in September saw the biggest peace demonstration in Britain for 20 years, no matter if 150,000 (according to the police) or 400,000 (according to the Stop the War Coalition) people marched through London. So far, so good, but I have to admit that I felt some out of place at this demonstration, and I only want to raise two question here, which need to be addressed by the British peace movement (whoever that is), and the British" left" in general.

Northwood Headquarters

Situated in the London suburb of Northwood, conveniently accessible for activists via the Metropolitan line, is the Northwood Headquarters, also known as HMS Warrior. From the outside it is not visible that Northwood Headquarters play a crucial role in the more and more interventionist military strategies of Britain - or more generally NATO and the Western countries. This article takes a closer look at the role of Northwood Headquarters, firstly at Northwood's role within the NATO command structure, and at the Permanent Joint Forces Headquarters at Northwood.

human right V antimilitarist action

Andreas Speck and Bart Horeman discuss conscientious objection: is it simply a human right, or does it represent an antimilitarist action? Andreas: When I became a total objector in Germany in the mid-80s, I saw my objection as an act of civil disobedience against militarism, or, more specifically, against the system of military slavery called conscription. My refusal to serve was aimed towards abolishing conscription and I saw it as a small but important contribution to demilitarise peoples minds.

From Protest to Resistance

While we are writing this, Britain - where we, WRI workers, are living - and the US are dropping bombs on Afghanistan - ?the first weeks of the "war on terrorism". At the same time on Oxford Street - a couple of kilometres from the WRI office - mainstream Britain goes shopping; life goes on as normal as possible, although protective clothing and gas masks are sold out, in fear of anthrax attacks. Who cares about the bombs dropped thousands of kilometres away, in order to save Western civilisation from terrorism?

Conscientious objection in Germany

Antimilitarist weapon or individualist right?


After World War II, Germany granted the right to CO in its new constitution. Article 4 paragraph 3 says: „Noone can be forced against his conscience to perform war service with weapons." However, in practise it looks a little bit more complicated. In this article I want to outline the development of CO in Germany and raise some questions which occur to me today.


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