1.8 PRESS STATEMENT 12 July 2004

The 10th International Conference on War Tax Resistance and Peace Tax Campaigns concluded on Sunday, July 11 in Brussels, Belgium.  Some 70 attendees from a dozen countries gathered.  The conference meets biennially to further the efforts of groups around the world working on issues of conscientious objection to military taxation (COMT) and towards the recognition of the human right to refuse to financially support war and militarism.  The conference serves as a place for peace activists from varied regions to make contact, listen to and help one another. 

Today and tomorrow the conference visits Flanders Fields in West-Flanders.

The conference-members presented detailed updates on war tax resistance and peace tax legislation from many countries with histories of these campaigns; such as Belgium, Spain, the UK and the US, the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway and Canada.  Conference participants exchanged general strategies, lobbying arguments and techniques, traded information, and discussed recent successes and failures. Lobbyists also outlined efforts at the international level: work done with respect to COMT in the United Nations; the European Union and the Council of Europe.  A multitude of related workshop topics included training in lobbying techniques, summaries of recent COMT court cases around the world, and presentations of alternative forms of security.

Representatives from Ghana, India and Colombia also spoke of the situations in their countries.  Military spending in western countries, currently at a frightening all-time high, has deep repercussions worldwide. It is all too clear that the taxes of one nation can serve to militarize another.  All the while, in the face of this record spending, many countries of the global south languish in grinding poverty.  There exists a global shift towards militarization, and the presentations portrayed the unfair and unwanted globalization of militarism. These speakers highlighted the opportunity of our time: to reject this, and seek instead to globalize our spirit of nonviolent cooperation

The conference made plain the importance of these events for this community, and reaffirmed a commitment to continue meeting in this capacity.  We met in a context of global violence; oppression; and grief.  One notion surfaced repeatedly during the proceedings.  We realize that this tragic setting in which we gather, despite the temptation to despair, is no time at all to back down or lay low. On the contrary, this is a time to redouble our efforts. Our work is sorely needed --perhaps now more than ever before- and we invite others to join us in this work.  It is our hope that this does not serve as a symbolic declaration; but translates into real commitment and action towards our objectives when we return to our home countries.

Conference coordinator:

Dirk Panhuis, Bruineveld 11, 3010 Leuven, Belgium, email: cpti@cpti.ws


Koen Moens: 0496-63 00 63

Jan Hellebaut: 03-544.99.51 and 0499-13 88 55 or  vrak@advalvas.be