Asylum for Refusing to Fight: Charting the Development Towards the Right to Conscientious Objection, Amy F. W. Corcoran

Abstract (click to view)

Conscientious objection has had a complicated history, and its legal position within both international and domestic systems remains far from concrete. This paper examines the recognition of a ‘right’ to conscientious objection within these frameworks, and notes that recent progressive developments in the international realm have increasingly supported the idea of conscientious objection as a right, rather than just a facet of freedom of conscience. The paper moves into a consideration of the state of recognition afforded to conscientious objection when employed as a ground for asylum claims. The reasons behind individuals’ decisions to leave their home country as a result of their objection to military service are explored. Relevant legislation and case law are also considered, and it is concluded that until conscientious objection is formally recognised as a right, rather than an emerging ‘human rights norm’, it will remain difficult for many conscientious objectors to gain protection outside their home country. The world is changing; conscription employed by fewer nations and the nature of war is shifting as a result of technological and political developments. It is vital that both the international community and domestic leaders permit their citizens the ability to refuse to engage in warfare, and that conscientious objection is formally incorporated into human rights legislation.