Eleventh International Conference on War Tax Resistance and Peace Tax Campaigns - Woltersdorf near Berlin, Germany 2006

Country Report Italy

The Italian National Campaign for the Conscientious Objection to Military Expenses

[pdf version]

1971: First situation of resistance to the military expenses in Italy

In Italy the tax resistance against the military expenses started on 1971 when the clerk Manrico Mansueti in Sarzana (La Spezia) resisted in support to the conscientious objectors to the military services restricted in jail.

1972/1981: With the conscientious objection to the military service

On 1972 the act Number 772 was approved. It allowed and controlled the conscientious objection to the military service. After Mr. Mansueti's action there were few objection on the financial field against the military expenses, acted by people as individuals as Rocco Campanella from Monreale (Palermo) on 1979 and Luciano Benini on 1980.

1981: The Campaign for Conscientious Objection to the Military Expenses (OSM) is born.

After these former experiences of objection and of protest against the displacement of Cruise missiles in Comiso, in some movements for peace born the idea to organize a national campaign for objection to the military expenses. It definitely born on 1981 during the spring led by MIR (Movimento Internazionale per la Riconciliazione, Italian branch of IFOR), MN (Movimento Nonviolento, Italian branch of International War Resisters) and LDU (Lega Disarmo Unilaterale, League for Unilateral Disarmament). The aims were the reduction of the military expenses and the financial option that means the chance to avoid to enforce the budget for weapons devoting the collected amount to projects for peace and Non-violence. There were attachments and actions for the OSM objectors defense.

1982/1990: The OSM Campaign enlarges.

The few objectors since 1981 increased till 1990 reaching the number 4800. In this period other organizations joined the campaign: on 1982 Lega degli Obiettori di Coscienza (LOC) joined the promoters movement and on 1986 Pax Christi. Then, on 1990, l'Associazione per la Pace and Servizio Civile Internazionale. The Campaign created a Found for Peace which the found cut off the budget for defense could be collected. Other legal goals were got. The Corte Costituzionale (National Court) delivered many judgements (Number 164 on 1985, Number 113 on 1986 and mostly the Number 450 on 1989) which stated that the defense of the Country is a duty: it may be made by services which must be pair, either using arms or not. The OSM enforced the difference between their resistance action and the evasion.

In that period, in the international ground there is a radical change in the world policy field. With the fall of the Berlin wall and the dissolution of the Soviet Union the “cold war” ends.

1991: Gulf war: Italy enters in war

With the Gulf war, in Italy there was a strong emotional reaction that push many Italian citizens who refused war to several and shared protests. Italy haven't been sharing directly a war since IInd World War! The OSM Campaign got a meaningful increase in adhesions. On 1991 almost 10,000 people supported the objection to military expenses.

1992/1994: The OSM Campaign and international wars.

On 1992 the International and civil war in Yugoslavia began. The facts that follow it put in evidence how even in Europe, war returned to be mean of policy of massacre for civil population.

There were demonstrations for peace even in conflict areas, as that one for Sarajevo (1992) and Mir Sada (1993). In the mean time, the Camera dei Deputati (on 25/7/91) and the Senato (on 17/1/92) approved the reform of the act Number 772/72 on the conscientious objection to the military service.

A reform strongly wanted by movements as LOC and OSM Campaign, because it increased the chances to realize the conscientious objection and mentioned, for the first time in a law, the idea of Nonviolent Populare Defense (DPN).

Unfortunately the reform was stopped by President Cossiga. The OSM Campaign went on to on the battle to get their aims and after the decrease of the adhesions turned their efforts to obtain the official state for DPN and engage on a level of enterprises of base, supporting research on DPN, seminar and stages for training non-violence, the opening of a peace embassy in Pristina, Kossovo (1994!) aiming to prevent the breakout of hostilities between the parties and many others initiatives.

1995/1997: Towards the OSM-DPN Campaign

The progress to institutional recognition led the Campaign to be engaged not only against military expenses but even to a unarmed defense. On the institutional level other steps were passed: the resolution of Camera dei Deputati (19/12/95), which engaged the government to deliver acts to allow the young objectors to join humanitarian missions abroad held by organizations legally connected or by non governmental organizations (called white helmets), and the Senato statement (25/1/96) which involved government to devote a budget of 10 billions of liras to allow and support the interventions by civil peace corps (in former-Yugoslavia) with purpose of peace building. Very meaningful openings by State, in the mean time engaged to enforce the New model of defense: creation of a professional army and strong increase of military expense.

1998/2002: OSM between institutional opening and war

On the institutional level another step was passed on 1998 with the act Number 230, which support the participation of conscientious objectors to humanitarian missions out the national land and states the duty to start experience on non-violent popular defense and popular diplomacy fields.

In 1999, two movements (MIR and MN) abandoned the Campaign. On the same 1999 even Servizio Civile Internazionale cut his adhesion off the promoters. It didn't ever give a true contribution to the Campaign. On those years two movements joined the Campaign: Beati i Costruttori di Pace (1998) and Associazione Papa Giovanni XXIII (1999), both engaged in the development of peace missions even in conflict areas.

The Campaign selects the support to project in action (held by GAVCI, Berretti Bianchi, and others …). In this direction it turns their efforts to the creation of Rete Caschi Bianchi (White Helmets network, a national network held by organization connected by an agreement for civil services and associations for peace all aiming to build a civil peace corps composed by objectors) and supporting the creation of Berretti Bianchi who are born on the idea to realize a civil peace corps composed by popular movement and community.

In 2001 at last with Number 64 Act it has been created the Servizio Civile Nazionale (National Civil Service). In this act, on item 11, there is stated the chance, for the citizens, to support il Fondo Nazionale per il Servizio Civile expressing the kind of intervention selected to be supported. The step between this chance to the authorization to cut the paid amount off the taxes in the income tax return towards the true financial option might be shorter. On 2001 we see the globalization crash and propagation of international terror and the preventional wars for the control of resources.

The Campaign tries to enforce the chances offered by institutional spaces and to joined them with protests against the increase of military expenses and war. On November 2002, it held in Rome a protest for a financial act for peace, for the creation of stage for training for peace civil corps and the reduction of military expenses.

2003/2004: OSM engagement DPN between war and terror

The Campaign tries to open spaces in the institutions. At last the Committee for the study of alternatives to armed defense has been created. In December 2003 it held in Rome the Second protest for a financial act for peace, for the creation of stage for training for peace civil corps and the reduction of military expenses.

Now the Campaign is trying to turn the efforts to the following aims: