Conscientious Objectors are those who, for moral or religious reasons, refuse to participate in armed conflict or join the armed forces. International Conscientious Objector Day is marked around the world each year on 15 May. You can find further details on the Peace Pledge Union website. Also, take a look at CO Project, an online archive and educational resource about Conscientious Objectors.
The International Conscientious Objectors’ Day was initiated by the International Conscientious Objectors’ Meeting (ICOM). The ICOM was an annual meeting of COs and their supporters held throughout the world to exchange ideas and offer solidarity. In 1985, at a time when compulsory conscription was still commonplace, it decided to use 15 May, to develop a sharper focus for action on conscientious objection.
The Conscientious Objectors Stone here in Tavistock Square, London was unveiled on May 15 1994 by Sir Michael Tippett, Peace Pledge Union President and a one time conscientious objector.
As well as relating to issues of peace and conflict, and linking in with history in terms of how Conscientious Objectors were treated during the two World Wars, this is also an important human rights issue and can give rise to interesting discussions about rights and responsibilities. Does your country have the right to force you to enlist, and do you have the right to refuse?
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