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

Postscript: CPTI after ten years

CPTI and Declaration of Hondarribia - Ten Years After

6.11

Dear Friends,

I have the pleasure of inviting you to the founding assembly of Conscience and Peace Tax International, which will take place on September 17, 1994 at 19 hours at the Juan Sebastian Elkano Youth Hostel in Hondarribia/Fuenterrabia (Spain).

Agenda:

  1. Discussion of report (below);
  2. Adoption of the statutes (sent to national offices);
  3. Election of the Board of Administration. Please consider your candidature;
  4. Repartition of the tasks among the Board members;
  5. Account. Budget. Adoption of an international logo (to be worked out);
  6. Other.

With my best wishes for peace,

Dirk Panhuis.

June 1994

And we founded it. In September 17 it will be ten years ago. And in these ten years we have realised that we did well. CPTI has been necessary and is still being necessary.

It's not spectacular work. Its results have not arrived yet to the attention of public opinion. But they are there. The work done in the UN offices, the relationships stabilised with other groups in all this time, are a seed that is already growing. Perhaps under the ground, but some day it will flourish.

We must water it. CPTI work can not go very far if we don't work in our movements, showing the people that tax resistance and peace campaigning are a reality now, that there are people all over the world thinking, saying and acting according to the statement we made in the Declaration of Hondarribia:

But we hold the strong conviction that nobody should support military preparations or actions, either by personal service, by contribution through taxation or by any other means. We also hold it to be a violation of conscience that anybody should be forced into giving such support.

We must be active in our own countries, and we must do what we say at the end of the declaration of Hondarribia:

We appeal to our fellow citizens and governments to take legal measures to respect our conscientious objections to military expenditure. Our final aim is to abolish all military expenditure and activity. We must work together with all people in building a society in which armies are not existing anymore and in which all human rights are respected.

In order to go towards these legal measures we founded CPTI.

Ten years ago we founded CPTI and ten years ago we adopted the Declaration of Hondarribia. I'm not sure, but I think that in ten years time we will have another anniversary. If I'm not wrong it was in 1914 when the first law on Conscientious Objection was approved. It happened in Sweden (once again, if I'm not wrong).

Conscientious Objection to Military Service was the active resistance against war in the twentieth century. But war has changed a lot during this time. With the bombing of Gernika, military power showed war would not have a front line any more. Coventry, Dresden and so a lot of towns and villages until at the moment, Baghdad, are other dramatic examples that nowadays war arrives to any part of the world. Nowadays, the military needs people, soldiers, but nowadays the military needs money, a lot of money for their purposes.

In the twenty-first century, if we want to build a society in which all human rights are respected, that is, if we feel the necessity to be active against war, we have to extend the idea that if the way to make war has changed, the way to make conscientious objection has to change too. And it's clear that the conscientious objection to the military has to have, nowadays, two different faces: Conscientious Objection to (personal) military service and  Conscientious Objection to (economical) military service. Traditional (but never old) Conscientious Objection and Tax Resistance and Peace Tax Campaigning are the way to do conscientious objection in the twenty-first century.

Will we be able to celebrate the first centenary of the first law on Conscientious Objection with some laws in some countries on Peace Tax? It would be nice and it is necessary.

Some times I think about this. We must realise that the work we have ahead will suppose a long walk. But perhaps we must propose to ourselves some goals in a middle time term. I remember the proposal we made some time ago about a declaration of support to be signed by some lawyers and university teachers. The proposal failed and I remember that one of our contacts said to us it's too early.

That's true, lawmakers, that is, politicians, will not consider our proposal if we are not a real problem for them. Before any parliament recognises us, society has to recognise us. We have to present our ideas to society. Claiming and acting at any forum we can, at the national level and at the international level. CPTI helps doing it, but its work has to be based on the work of the different groups and people all over the world, linked by the international conferences.

Ten years ago we founded CPTI. It's value. We must go on. War is a crime against humanity.

Pamplona-Iruñea, September 1st, 2004

Pedro Otaduy