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Conscientious Objection in the Council of Europe


The Parliamentary Assembly and the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe have been promoting the recognition of conscientious objection, mainly for military service but also in other domains, since the 1960s. However, for more than fifty years the precedents of the European Commission and the European Court of Human Rights repeatedly denied that conscientious objection could be found implicit in article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights. In 2011 the Court changed its standpoint and energetically affirmed that conscientious objection, at least for military service, is a derivation of freedom of conscience and religion, and that European states are thus bound to incorporate it to their internal legislations.