International Fora - Report of Workshop 2

Present: Barbara Forbes (resource person), Erik Hummels (chairperson), Hans Mulder (report), David Basset, Brenda Boughton, Monica Frisch, Hans Horeman, Helmar Lorenz, Giorgina Momigliano, Dirk Panhuis, Uta Pfefferle, Ursula Windsor.


Barbara completes her introductory paper by saying that there will be no attempt to harmonize all the income taxes in the EC in the next 10-20 years. Hans Horeman suggests to work on this matter anyway, so that, when the harmonisation comes, we will be prepared.

The European Community

The European Parliament has a series of Committees covering all issues relevant to the European Community.

One of these is the Petitions CommitteeEP, Belliardstraat, 1047 Brussels. It does not meet in public, because it is concerned with individual complaints. There are so many complaints that there is a waiting list. It is said that the persons in this committee like to consider human rights for a change. So if one feels attacked in ones human rights, one can write to the Petitions Committee. Erik says it's very simple to do so and suggests that everyone writes a petition now about CO to military taxation. Please send a copy to the Quaker Council on European Affairs.

Another committee is the Citizens Rights and Civil Liberties Committee (present chairperson: Amadee Turner, UK). This is a public committee; it advises the EP in police matters (Schengen Treaty), position of minorities, human rights within the EC, etc. This committee just started its work. The procedure is the following: a member of the committee makes a report on an issue concerning the EC. (When a member thinks an issue is important enough to write a report about, he/she is free to do so.) This report will be discussed in the European Parliament and the EP advises the Council of Ministers.

At this moment a report is being made on Conscientious Objection to military service. We discussed the question whether it would be wise to urge the Civil Liberties Committee to write a report on CO to military taxation. Not every country in the EC has a law on CO to military service and a report on this issue may accomplish that there will be legislation on CO to military service in every country. Urging to write a report on our issue may be too much too soon. Barbara Forbes will try to find out who is writing the Report on CO to military service; she will ask him/her what it contains and what s/he thinks about WTR and if it is wise to make an expandatory note about CO to military taxation. If that is possible Barbara will contact the national organisations on WTR-PTCs and these will contact national members of the Civil Liberties Committee to support the expandatory note on CO to military taxation. Whatever the national organisations will do, they will inform Barbara about their efforts, even if they don't do anything. Barbara may be able to see if some mistakes are being made and she can try to put it right. If such an expandatory note is not advisable, Barbara will let us know what to do otherwise.

America and Africa

There are similar frameworks in America (Organisation of American States) and in Africa (Organisation of African Unity). There are similar possibilities to make complaints against someone's government in the realm of human rights.

The Council of Europe

Not to be mixed up with the EC. The Council of Europe consists of 27 countries; the former Eastern European countries are special guests. At this moment the Quaker Council for European Affairs is working on an additional protocol about CO to military service. What under the EC has been said about wishing too much too soon is particularly valid for the Council of Europe. Chances are an additional protocol about CO to military service won't even be discussed if we introduce CO to military taxation in the Council of Europe. It is important the European Commission of Human Rights accepts CO to military service first. Therefore we support the QCEA in its lobbying effort for an additional protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights. We can try to contact organisations in our own countries that are working on CO to military service in order to support the QCEA.

But there are other possibilities. If one has ended all juridical procedures in ones own country it is possible to go to the European Court of Human Rights at Strasbourg. It is very simple to do so: you send a letter to the European Commission of Human Rights, asking for a special application form to lodge a complaint against your country. That form can be in the language you prefer. You have to lodge your complaint within six months after the last national decision about your case. This Commission decides whether your application is admissible or not. If it is, the European Court of Human Rights will decide. But only one out of 100 complaints are admissible and of all the complaints that go through The European Court of Human Rights rejects about 50%. So chances are big you won't succeed. However, a lot of cases are not admissible because of an earlier decision in a similar case. Therefore, make sure your case is slightly different from previous cases. You can ask for a list of decisions in similar cases.

The United Nations Organisation

The UN have a Human Rights Commission that makes recommendations to government representatives. This commission meets again next year and agreed with the principle of CO to military service, but Erik says not to expect too much of this.

The Human Rights Committee(Geneva) is seeing applications as the European Committee of Human Rights does, but they do this globally. If you are successful there will be no further judgement; the Human Rights Committee gives a judgement by saying a country is in violation of your rights. It is simple to apply: you just write a letter to the Human Rights Committee, Palais des Nations, Geneva and there they have a look at it.

CSCE (Helsinki)

The CSCE also has a declaration about human rights, but there are no results. The CSCE is not an organisation but a process. It works with consensus between 52 countries and therefore it is more difficult to bring CO to military taxation into discussion. CSCE is also under funded. It receives 0,02% of what NATO gets.

P.S. by Dirk Panhuis (April 9 1993)

  1. The report on CO prepared by Ms. R. Bindi (and Mr. Bandrés Molet) for the Civil Liberties Committee of the EP will contain a note on CO to military taxation.
  2. The report on CO prepared by Mr. S. Rodotà for the LAHR Commission contains two references to CO to military taxation in the explanatory memorandum (not in the resolutions). The vote is scheduled for May 1993 (in the Parliamentary Assembly of the CoE).