Conscientious Objection

Resisting Militarized Society

Edited by Özgür Heval Çınar and Coşkun Üsterci
With a Preface by Cynthia Cockburn


Examines the practice of conscientious objection. This book provides an introduction and tool for making sense of the history of nation-states in the 20th century and understanding the political developments of the early 21st century.
Refusing to take part in war is as old as war itself. This wide-ranging and original book brings together four different bodies of knowledge to examine the practice of conscientious objection: historical and philosophical analyses of conscientious objection as a critique of compulsory military service and militarization; feminist, LGBT and queer analyses of conscientious objection as a critique of patriarchy, sexism, and heterosexism; activist and academic analyses of conscientious objection as a social movement and individual act of resistance; legal analyses of the status of conscientious objection in international and national law.

Conscientious objection is an increasingly important subject of academic and political debate in countries including the US, Israel and Turkey. This book provides a much needed introduction and tool for making sense of the history of nation-states in the 20th century and understanding the political developments of the early 21st century.

Author Bio

Özgür Heval Çinar is a lawyer. Currently he is a Ph.D. candidate and Graduate Teaching Assistant in the Law Department at the University of Essex. He has also worked at several NGOs, including the Istanbul branch of the Human Rights Association of Turkey and Human Rights Watch on a voluntary basis. He is the author of "The Effects of European Court of Human Rights' Decisions on the Turkish Legal System" as well as a number of journal articles.

Coskun Üsterci is a peace and human rights activist. Graduating from the Department of Economic and Commercial Science at the Ege University, he was a founder of the Izmir War Resisters' Association. He is currently a member of the Human Rights Association, and has been working since 1992 at the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey, where he is a board member. In addition, he runs workshops on anti-militarism, conscientious objection and non-violence.

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgements
  • Preface - Cynthia Cockburn
  • Introduction - Coskun Üsterci and Özgür Heval Çinar
  • Part I: Conscription and resisting conscription in a militarized society
    • 1. The militarization of society: conscription and national armies in the process of citizen creation - Suavi Aydin
    • 2. Patriotism and the justification of inequality in the construction of militarism - Melek Göregenli
    • 3. Refusing to serve by other means: desertion in the late Ottoman Empire - Erik-Jan Zürcher
    • 4. Sand in the wheels? Conscientious objection at the turn of the twenty-first century - Ulrich Bröckling
    • 5. The morals and politics of conscientious objection, civil disobedience and anti-militarism | Nilgün Toker Kilinç
    • 6. The philosophical grounds of conscientious objection - Taha Parla
  • Part II: Conscientious objection as a critique of patriarchy, sexism and heterosexism
    • 7. Where are the women in military conscientious objection? Some feminist clues - Cynthia Enloe
    • 8. Refusing to identify as obedient wives, sacrificing mothers and proud warriors - Ayse Gül Altinay
    • 9. Conscientious objection and masculine violence - Serpil Sancar
    • 10. Rotten report and reconstructing hegemonic masculinity in Turkey - Alp Biricik
  • Part III: Conscientious objection in the world: experiences and problems
    • 11. Experiences of conscientious objection movements: South Africa, Greece and Paraguay - Andreas Speck and Rudi Friedrich
    • 12. Military conscription, conscientious objection and democratic citizenship in the Americas - Matthew C. Gutmann
    • 13. Conscientious objection in Chile - Pelao Carvallo
    • 14. Conscientious objection in Spain: disobedience - Cthuchi Zamarra
    • 15. Conscientious objection in Israel - Tali Lerner
    • 16. Refusing to serve in the army for reasons of conscience in Greece - Alexia Tsouni and Michalis Maragakis
    • 17. Conscientious objection in Turkey - Coskun Üsterci and Ugur Yorulmaz
  • Part IV: Conscientious objection and law
  • A International law
    • 18. A view on international implementation of the right to conscientious objection - Özgür Heval Çinar
    • 19. International standards on conscientious objection to military and alternative service - Rachel Brett
    • 20. European standards on conscientious objection and alternative service - Friedhelm Schneider
    • 21. Conscientious objection in international law and the Osman Murat Ülke case - Kevin Boyle
  • B The case of Turkey
    • 22. Conscientious objection and the Turkish constitution - Osman Can
    • 23. The criminality of conscientious objection in Turkey and its consequences - Hülya Üçpinar
  • Notes on contributors
  • Index


'This Turkish-oriented comparative study of conscientious objection to military service is illuminating, while exhibiting the courage of morally motivated individuals who defy coercive governments. In essence, this fine multi-authored volume challenges readers to assess the nature of good citizenship in the 21st Century.'
Richard Falk, Princeton University.

'The world’s hundreds of thousands of conscientious objectors to military labour come alive in this volume, and not simply as figures of moral conscience. They are also revealed as symptoms and powerful critiques of militarism and the diverse problems it both feeds and draws on, including nationalism, patriarchy and class inequality, and racialism.'
Catherine Lutz, Brown University.

'I wish I had had this book decades ago when I first found my way to conscientious objection and ultimately to draft resistance. It is far and away the best book I have seen on the subject. Çinar and Üsterci have conceived and assembled a remarkable and appropriately complex resource about freedom and resistance to militarism. An important book for scholars and activists alike.'
Joseph Gerson, American Friends Service Committee.

'At last a book on conscientious objection to military service from the point of view of contemporary objectors ... it expresses the critique objection poses to patriarchy and social militarization and firmly places objection in the context of struggle for social transformation.'
Howard Clark, chairperson, War Resisters' International


Publication Date: 9 April 2009
272 pages

Product ISBNs: Paperback: 9781848132788
eBook ePub: 9781848136328
eBook PDF: 9781848132795
eBook Kindle: 9781780327648
Library Edition: 9781848132771

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