Lobbying in International Forums

Workshop Number 6

Led by Dirk Panhuis and Marian Franz

CPTI representatives reported on the following international non-governmental meetings: The Second Ecumenical Assembly on Reconciliation, Graz, June 1997; European Conscientious Objectors meeting, Norway, August 1997; European Peace Congress, Osnabrück, May 1998, (Better preparation led to the mention of nonmilitary security / peacebuilding work in the final document, and resolutions on COMS and COMT were applauded in the plenary session.); Gathering of Christian grassroots movements, Maastricht, August 1998; War Resisters International Triennial, Croatia, September 1998, (A workshop was held on war tax resistance); Hague Appeal for Peace, Netherlands, May 1999, (Again a lack of preparation led to CO issues being omitted from the final document).

Marian reported on CPTI's special consultative status at the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC). She met with a committee of ECOSOC in New York which unanimously granted CPTI ‘special consultative status’ with ECOSOC in July 1999. The status is ‘special’ as opposed to ‘general’ and means that CPTI has the right to attend and present papers on our issue, but not on unrelated issues (general consultative status is awarded only to huge ‘multi-disciplinary’ NGOs like the Red Cross). This is a huge success and has enormous benefits in legitimizing CPTI and the issue of conscientious objection to the payment of taxes.

CPTl appointed Marian Franz, John Randall, and Rosa Packard as representatives at meetings in New York, and Cosimo Tomaselli to represent CPTI at Geneva meetings. John Randall and Rosa Packard are building links with established NGOs as they meet with their representatives almost weekly at the UN.

John Randall and Rosa Packard represented CPTI, and David Bassett represented NCPTF-USA (and CPTI) at the NGO Millennium Forum in New York, May 2000. Suggestions from the Forum will be presented to the Millennium General Assembly this September. Hard lobbying work, particularly on the part of David Bassett, ensured that conscientious objection in general was mentioned in the final document, but explicit reference to COMT had to be dropped to achieve agreement in the short time available.

Erik Hummels and the board have been preparing a request to the Human Rights Committee (HRC) in Geneva, asking that the committee, in a ‘general comment’ specifically express the view that the right to COMT can be derived from article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Their ‘general comment 22’ says that the right to conscientious objection to military service can be derived from article 18.

Erik took a client's case to the Human Rights Committee to try to establish the right to COMT in a specific case and lost by only one vote (7-6). This gives us hope that a request for a general comment may prove successful.

The request to the HRC has been drafted and will now be sent to others with experience of appealing to the HRC for their comments before it is submitted.

Marian reported that CPTI had been given $15,000 by an anonymous donor.

We discussed how to best use this money to ensure a sustained presence at the UN. We decided to bring a proposal to establish a fundraising committee to the CPTI general assembly meeting. The need for a transparent structure and clear goals was emphasized. CPTI needs to ensure full accountability to its members and to any person or group who funds its work.

We felt that administrative and travel costs for CPTI representatives, and possibly office space in New York, should be included in CPTI's budget.

We identified some goals for the 2002 Berlin conference attend the Human Rights session in Geneva in March 2002; spend time learning what is possible for us to do with our energy and resources: attend specific NGO meetings with the aims of becoming known, building networks with individuals and NGOs who are experienced and respected in related areas; clarity the level of commitment of our volunteer delegates (we should not expect them to carry on indefinitely, especially without claiming expenses), build reporting mechanisms so that our representatives are both representative and accountable, try to build links with other NGOs working in the UN in Geneva, such as the Quaker Office, whose representative. Rachel Brett works with CO to military service issues.

Participants noted how ECOSOC recognition could help to pass legislation for COs in Russia: to persuade a coalition of NGOs in Nigeria to adopt COMT in its proposals for increased democracy in the new constitution; and to get the candidate states for European Union membership to recognize COMT as a condition of entry.

Participants: Dirk Panhuis, János Rátkai, Becky Pierce, Sergei Nikitin, Marian Franz, Kyoko Ishida, David Bassett, Obi Nwakanma, and Jon Nott, reporter.