Conscientious Objection in Turkey: Conscription and the Myth of the Military Nation

Armies require obedient soldiers. However, throughout history there have been those who, for a variety of reasons, have refused to take part in war or to perform military service. The most direct way of objecting to serving a military function is through conscientious objection to the performance of military service. The right to conscientious objection to military service is nowadays recognised by most international mechanisms as the legitimate expression of the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. However, Turkey is the only state of 47 members of the Council of Europe not to recognise the right to conscientious objection to military service, and it does not provide alternative civilian service.

This seminar will focus on the following questions: Why is there no recognition of this right in Turkey? Under international human rights law what are Turkey`s obligations? This seminar will also investigate the gradual militarisation of Turkish society during the historical process of nation-building with particular reference to the crucial importance of conscription in this process. It also examines how the origins of militarism in Turkey and the importance of military service to the process have led to the militaristic mentality influencing the legal system.




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