Tenth International Conference on War Tax Resistance and Peace Tax Campaigns - Brussels, Belgium 2004

Annex 2: Report by the Board of CPTI

(period: August 2002 – April 2004)

to the 6th General Assembly (July 10, 2004) in Brussels (Belgium)

6.4

1. Board members

Erik Hummels (Netherlands, chair), Marian Franz (vice-chair, USA), Dirk Panhuis (secretary, Belgium), Pedro Otaduy (treasurer, Spain.), Cosimo Tomaselli (Italy), Hannelore Morgenstern-Przygoda (Germany), Phil Rimmer (UK)

2. Representatives

New York: Marian Franz, John Randall, and Rosa Packard

Geneva: Dirk Panhuis, Bart Horeman, and Derek Brett

3. Board meetings

4. Work in New York 

a) Representation

In their role as CPTI NGO representatives to the UN in New York, Rosa Packard and John Randall are associated with Quaker UN office (QUNONY) for the issue of conscientious objection and have met with their committee and staff to clarify this.

CPTI convened an NGO working group on conscientious objection which has become a subcommittee of the NGO Committee on Human Rights and meets most months at the Mennonite Central Committee office in New York. 

CPTI Representatives attended meetings and programs organized by The Department of Public Information, by The NGO Committee on Religious Freedom and the NGO Committee on Human Rights.

Since 2000 CPTI is a member of CONGO (Conference of NGOs at UN). This membership provides CPTI with a free meeting room at the Church Center, 777 UN Plaza, New York.

Rosa Packard represented CPTI at the Pendle Hill Peacenet founding meeting in Wallingford, Pennsylvania, October 2003.

John Randall and Rosa Packard met with Bruna Nota of Conscience Canada and introduced her to the NGO Working Group on Conscientious Objection.

Marian Franz and Rosa Packard consulted with the committee preparing a New York City Council resolution supporting peace tax legislation.

Rosa Packard gave a presentation at Riverside Church in New York in connection with this on January 25, 2004. John Randall provided web space for this activity. 

b) Legal Research

Rosa Packard worked with two high school interns for six weeks exploring CPTI's legal research on the subject of Conscience Objection to military taxation (COMT). Meetings were arranged with the convener of the Peace Caucus at the UN, with an attorney, and a peace educator. John Randall advised them on the use of the web page and hosted their visit to the UN. The interns helped to arrange an educational program on nonviolent alternatives to war for their high school and for their local community.

Under a grant from NYYM (New York Yearly Meeting) Peace Concerns legal research was begun on COMT in the USA. A websearch was begun, files were begun. A meeting with John Randall, Rosa Packard and Ruth Benn, coeditor of the book War Tax Resistance was held. In preparation for an article on selected Quaker cases on COMT in different countries German source material on the Voigt case was translated, source material on the Windsor case, the Prior case and the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting case was obtained.

c) Best Practices Report

With other members of the NGO Working Group on Conscientious Objection Rosa Packard met with the USA Mission concerning the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR)'s Best Practices Report. (See also under Geneva, below.)

Rosa Packard wrote a letter to missions encouraging their response to the Best Practices Report. The letter was sent out by John Miller of War Resisters International and the NGO Committee on Human Rights.

d) Programs for NGO representatives and the public

(taped and transcribed for www.cpti.ws)

Educating Youth About Their Human Right of Conscientious Objection. Panel Discussion at the Third Preparatory Committee for the Special Session on Children. United Nations, New York, June 12, 2001.

The Human Right of Conscientious Objection: A panel discussion presented by the NGO Working Group on Conscientious Objection. The United Nations, N.Y., 20 February, 2003.

Alternatives to War, Panel Discussion with audience participation. Greenwich, Connecticut, May 31, 2003.

CPTI arranged a program March 25, 2004 in New York at the Church Center across the street from the UN. The Human Right Not to Pay for War was sponsored by the NGO Working Group on Conscientious Objection and the NGO Committee on Human Rights at the UN in New York. Rosa Packard moderated it. Members of the panel spoke briefly, followed by questions. Marian Franz, Vice President of CPTI, showed the video Compelled by Conscience and spoke of the work of international movements. Bill Perkins, New York City Councilman announced plans to introduce a City Council Resolution this spring supporting Peace Tax legislation. Shulamith Koenig, founder of the Peoples Movement for Human Rights Education and recipient of the UN Award for Human Rights Education 2003, spoke of the importance of placing our efforts in a human rights context. Members of the audience suggested we approach Mayors for Peace with our concern when they come to New York at the end of April for the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty discussions. A member of the audience requested a one page description of the activities of movements in various countries. We distributed CPTI's brochure and  statements to the Commission on Human Rights. Rosa Packard tape recorded the session and will edit a transcription for our web page. The UN office of the Mennonite Central Committee was helpful in making arrangements for the room and hospitality and publicity.

5. Work in Geneva

a) UN Commission on Human Rights (CHR)

2003 (59th session)

2004 (60th session)

b) Work of representative Derek Brett in 2004

Best Practices Report

By far the greatest focus of activity during the year has been on the preparation by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) of a report on their compilation and analysis of best practice with regard to the right of everyone to have conscientious objection to military service…

CPTI took a leading role in supporting this process particularly in encouraging NGO input. On 3rd July 2003 CPTI and QUNO (Quaker Office at the UN) co-hosted a confidential lunch meeting at Quaker House at which an invited group of interested parties heard a progress report from the OHCHR and further input and follow-up strategies were discussed. At least one larger NGO which contributed material to the study did so partly as a result of this meeting. We were also instrumental in forwarding to the OHCHR material from the Center on Conscience and War (CCW), a domestic NGO in the USA, whose attention was drawn to this by our New York representatives. At the Commission on Human Rights (see above, 5, a) CPTI coordinated and moderated the parallel event at which the OHCHR report itself was presented.

By contrast, our own attempts to collate evidence about best practice with regard to the treatment of COMT were disappointing. Nevertheless we were able to piece together a brief submission focusing essentially on the United States and Italy. Copies both of our submission and that which we forwarded from Center on Conscience and War (CCW) have also been posted on the website.

Had the COMT evidence been incorporated in the report, this would have represented a major step forward in stretching the boundaries of discussion on conscientious objection, and it was no surprise that it was not in fact mentioned. Our evidence has however been filed with the other submissions and is available for inspection at the OHCHR. Derek Brett has studied the complete file of evidence submitted, and considers that it contains an important updating of the documentation on the situation of conscientious objection in the world, to which the report itself, by too narrow an interpretation of its terms of reference, failed to do full justice.

Visit of New Profile

The postponed visit of two representatives of New Profile eventually took place on 10th and 11th June. Derek Brett attended the presentation they gave to NGOs on the afternoon of 10th June, and hosted them talking to Geneva Quaker Meeting that evening. On the 11th, through QUNO, they had a number of very productive meetings with Government Missions.

New Profile describe themselves as an organization of feminist women and men working for the civil-isation of Israeli society, by which they mean reversing the creeping militarization of all aspects of life, of which they gave chilling evidence. War tax resistance is obviously a linked issue, but as an organization they are not directly involved in this, as they take pains to operate strictly within the existing law.

Collaboration with Quaker Council on European Affairs (QCEA) in Brussels

Derek Brett had preliminary meetings in the Spring and Summer of 2003 with the new representatives at the Quaker Council on European Affairs, and having just been appointed Switzerland's representative on the Board of QCEA attended his first meeting in Brussels on 27th March 2004, and was able to have further discussions about collaboration. QCEA is working in two directions. They are collecting information on Peace Tax issues in Europe with a view to working for acknowledgement of COMT at the Council of Europe, where they are an accredited NGO. They also have been carrying forward a research project on the current legislative situation regarding all forms of conscientious objection, updating with regard to Europe the information which was last collected comprehensively in the WRI CONCODOC project in 1998. 

UN Committee on Human Rights

Whenever possible Derek Brett has attended the hearings by the Committee on the periodic reports by States Parties on the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Questions are usually asked about conscientious objection, and the Committee are particularly vigilant on the issue of disproportionate length of alternative service. Useful supplementary information often emerges. In particular Derek Brett suggested to Slovakia that they could usefully submit for the Best Practices report the explanation they gave to the Committee, but they did not do so.

There is no reason to suppose that at this stage a communication to the Committee from a war tax resister would be any more favorably received than was the Pearce case in the early 1990s. The time is however ripe for the Committee to pronounce on a straightforward case of conscientious objection to military service and Derek Brett is continuing to use all his contacts to look out for one which fulfils the necessary criteria, namely that the State concerned must be a party to the second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR and that the complainant must have exhausted domestic remedies i.e. taken the matter to the ultimate court within the State.

Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights

Derek Brett continued to monitor the activities of the Sub-Commission, which meets each year in August. Most relevant to our concerns at the moment is the ongoing study by the French expert, M. Decaux (inherited from his predecessor, M. Joinet) on military tribunals. One of the most common abuses is the adjudication by such tribunals on cases of conscientious objection, in other words preemptively subjecting civilians to military jurisdiction. This, along with the question of military schools, to which the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers is increasingly turning its attention, forms part of the network of issues which need to be addressed in the context of what New Profile call ‘civil-isation’, and none of which can be fully understood in isolation.

CONGO Sub-Committee on Freedom of Religion or Belief

Derek Brett has continued to attend, and is gradually coming to participate more actively in meetings of this Committee. 

Reform within the UN System

Derek Brett has attended a number of meetings revealing current thinking regarding reform within the UN system, including the work of the High Level Panel appointed by the Secretary-General and proposals for reform of treaty bodies and reporting procedures.

Rapporteur on the Freedom of Religion or Belief

Mr. Amor diligently took up the issue of religious persecution of conscientious objectors in the countries which he visited, but he made it clear that he did not consider the issue a central part of his mandate. His term has now come to an end and the Chairman of the Commission will appoint his successor within the next few weeks. The question of a submission will be followed up once the new rapporteur is in office.

6. Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation Conferences 

  1. June 26-27, 2003: BRPF organized a consultation of the European Network on Peace and Human Rights in the buildings of the European Parliament. Dirk Panhuis represented CPTI. A paper on COMT was included in the final text.
  2. April 29-30, 2004: a similar meeting in Brussels was attended by Derek Brett.

7. Publicity

  1. The web site (www.cpti.ws) is taken care of by web master John Randall.
  2. Marian Franz and Rosa Packard prepared a brochure for CPTI (April 2004).
  3. Rosa Packard wrote a number of emails Letters from the UN

8. Articles of association

The secretary prepared amendments to the articles of association, mainly because of a new Belgian law (May 2, 2002) on international non-profit associations. The Board will present the amendments to the members at the General Assembly in Brussels on July 10, 2004.