Second International Conference on War Tax Resistance and Peace Tax Campaigns

Vierhouten, the Netherlands 1988

On the European Elections

At present there are four European countries which have elaborated projects of legislation on behalf of conscientious objection to taxation for war purposes, i.e. Belgium, the Netherlands, United Kingdom and West Germany. This gives us the opportunity to look at this matter not only in the national context but also from an international angle. In the introduction the question is raised how we'll go about this subject as far as procedures are concerned and suggestions are requested as to how we can coordinate activities in the future. It would be a help when the preambles could be harmonized: After all they serve in a way as a visiting card.

In West Germany they plan to have a meeting in December to develop a timetable for action. The intention is to forward this timetable to the three other countries as well.

In the Netherlands a group of 5 people formulated the draft, not the BWD itself, which might make the Dutch situation slightly different from the others.

Then the subject of lobbying candidates for the impending European elections was discussed. The first reaction was to send all drafts to all European members of parliament. But most of the national groups still have to get the proposals dealt with on national level.

Then a suggestion emerges to see whether a rough draft can be formulated, starting with an enumeration of all the elements we feel should be considered. Maybe we could even get it as far as a final statement during the conference? The question was raised: To which governments ought such a statement to be sent? And: How do we muster support for this project amongst other groups? The German movement for instance, has few contacts with other organisations; they mainly depend on direct mailings to their own adherents. Would it not be a good idea for them to approach the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Germany?

Another question was whether the cooperation between the European countries should not be extended beyond the borders of Europe, for instance, in linking it to the efforts in the USA.

We asked ourselves what the different movements have in common. The fact that we are conscientious objectors, that we have conscientious objections. We must make it clear that our main aim is to get support for recognition by legislation on national level. But legislation is only a first step.

The meeting feels that apart from the technical aspects of draft legislation we should work on resolutions on behalf of COs in the European Parliament and on national level work for support in the various parties. A problem with the European Parliament could be that we don't pay our money directly to it and that it does not impose taxes for military purposes on us. At least, not yet.

We talked about a European Peace Fund. Is such a Fund desirable or an aim to high? The formulation of ideas about a European Peace Fund might help to open an entree. It was also noted that the idea of CO to military service is already known in the European Parliament and drawing parallels to this might be another key to get discussions about this subject going. At this time we decided we needed a draft to be able continue the discussion.