Voices of Conscientious Objection

  

Conscience is delighted to be hosting a series of webinars; ‘Voices of Conscientious Objection‘.  We are very grateful for the grant we have received from Funding for Social Change Ltd for this work.

The first four webinars in the series are concerned with conscientious objection to military conscription in the past and in the present.  We will then consider conscientious objection to paying the military proportion of our taxes i.e. conscientious objection to financial conscription.  We will learn about the history of war tax resistance and peace tax campaigns, and go on to consider key aspects of trying to bring about legislative change in the UK so that the right to conscientiously object to financial conscription is recognised.

The ‘Voices of Conscientious Objection‘ project was originally envisaged as a series of public meetings in different parts of the country.  However, as a result of the coronavirus epidemic we developed an alternative plan for a series of webinars.  Conscience Campaign Worker, Karen Robinson, has written two blogs about the evolution of the project;

Voices of Conscientious Objection

Stories of three people who conscientiously objected to war

Here is a list of the first five webinars in the series;

  1.  Voices of Conscientious Objection
  2.  Conscientious Objection during the First World War
  3.  Conscientious Objection during the Second World War
  4.  Conscientious objection to conscription – A review of the current situation in different countries
  5.  Exploring the history of conscientious objection to military taxation

Each of the webinars is being recorded live, and the recordings made available online.  Below you can find details of each of the webinars held to date, together with the link to the relevant video.

For details of the next webinar coming up, please see:  https://conscienceonline.org.uk/conscience-webinars/

Conscience webinars to date

1.  Voices of Conscientious Objection

On 2 July 2020 we were delighted to welcome Symon Hill, Campaigns & Communications Manager at the Peace Pledge Union, as the guest speaker at our first Conscience webinar, ‘Voices of Conscientious Objection’.  The title of  Symon’s talk was, ‘Conscientious Objection – Then And Now’.

You can view the video of the webinar here

Symon vividly described the stories of three people who conscientiously objected to war; Howard Marten (a conscientious objector in the First World War), Tair Kaminer (a conscientious objector from Israel), and Michael Lyons (a Royal Navy medic who became a conscientious objector to the war in Afghanistan).

Conscience Campaign Worker, Karen Robinson, was inspired by Symon’s talk to read more about Howard, Tair and Michael.  She wrote the following blog about the webinar: Stories of three people who conscientiously objected to war

During the webinar members of the Conscience staff team introduced themselves: Fay Salichou (Fundraising and Membership Worker), Jonathan Maunders (Office Co-ordinator), and Karen Robinson (Campaign Worker).  They described different aspects of the organisation’s work, and shared how you can get involved.

2.  Conscientious Objection during the First World War

On 15 October 2020 we held our Conscience webinar, ‘Conscientious Objection during the First World War’.

You can view the video of the webinar here

We were delighted to welcome Prof Lois Bibbings, Professor of  Law, Gender and History at the University of Bristol, and David Milner, previously member of Conscience Executive Committee, as our guest speakers.  Lois gave us an overview of conscientious objection during the First World War – nationwide.  She then shared with us stories of conscientious objectors from Bristol.  David continued by sharing his research on conscientious objectors in Dorset during the First World War.

3.  Conscientious Objection during the Second World War

On 24 September 2020 we held our Conscience webinar, ‘Conscientious Objection during the Second World War’.

You can view the video of the webinar here

We were very fortunate to have Donald Saunders and Ann Kramer as our guest speakers.  Donald Saunders spoke to us about his personal experiences of being a conscientious objector in the Second World War.  Ann Kramer, a historian and a writer, gave us a fascinating overview, and shared with us the results of her research interviewing people who had been conscientious objectors during the Second World War.

4.  Conscientious objection to conscription – A review of the current situation in different countries

On 3 December 2020 we held our Conscience webinar, ‘Conscientious objection to conscription – A review of the current situation in different countries’.

You can view the video of the webinar here

This was our first international webinar and we were delighted to have three guest speakers.  Gina Chappa (Republic of Cyprus) did a joint talk with Murat Kanatli (northern part of Cyprus) on, ‘Conscientious Objection in Cyprus’.  Gina and Murat are both Board members of the European Bureau for Conscientious Objection.  Murat is himself a conscientious objector.  Natalia García Cortés (Colombia) works for ‘The Right to Refuse to Kill’ programme for War Resisters’ International (WRI).  She spoke about the WRI and its work on conscientious objection and supporting conscientious objectors.

5.  Exploring the history of conscientious objection to military taxation

On 15 April 2021 we held our Conscience webinar, ‘Exploring the history of conscientious objection to military taxation’.

You can view the video of the webinar here

Robin Brookes (Conscience Peace Tax International and Peace Tax Seven) gave us an ‘Historical overview of conscientious objection to military taxation’. Mary Lou Leavitt (Religious Society of Friends) spoke about ‘Quaker involvement in the Peace Tax Campaign / Conscience’. And finally Monica Frisch (Conscience) shared her reflections on ‘Campaigning for conscientious objection to military taxation in the UK’.

6.  Reconciliation and Peacebuilding

On 15 July 2021 we held our Conscience webinar, ‘Reconciliation and Peacebuilding’.

You can view the video of the webinar here

We were very honoured to have Jo Berry, founder of Building Bridges For Peace, as our guest speaker.

The title of Jo’s talk was: ‘Reconciliation and peacebuilding: personal experience of being affected by terrorism and becoming a peacebuilder’.

It was very moving to hear Jo’s extraordinary story.  And to reflect on how it has inspired people all over the world, including in many conflict zones.

7.  Transforming our military and fossil fuel-based industrial production to non-military, socially and ecologically useful production

On 30 September 2021 we held our Conscience webinar, ‘How do we transform our military (including nuclear weapons) and fossil fuel-based industrial production to non-military, socially and ecologically useful production?’

You can view the video of the webinar here

We were very grateful to Sam Mason, Policy Officer at the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), for her fascinating talk.  Sam’s talk was in three parts:

  • The original Lucas Plan and the New Lucas Plan
  • Conversion of industrial production from military to non-military purposes / defence diversification
  • A just transition to socially and ecologically useful production in response to the climate crisis

8.  Why we need non-military security

On 25 November 2021 we held our webinar, ‘Why we need non-military security‘.

You can view the video of the webinar here

We were delighted that Prof Paul Rogers, Emeritus Professor of Peace Studies at Bradford University, was our guest speaker.  He divided his very informative talk on ‘Why we need non-military security‘ into two parts:

  1.  Failed wars and new security challenges
  2.  So what is the alternative?
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