Fifth International Conference on War Tax Resistance and Peace Tax Campaigns - Hondarribia, Spain 1994

Saturday Night: WTR and PTF as a Human Right

Pedro: At this moment we should discuss War Tax resistance and Peace Taxes as a human right. Until now we hadn't realised that we have not thought about who will be the chairperson on this session and I think that I'm not very able to do it because of my lacks on English language, so I would like one of you to come here and bring ahead this work. Is anyone ready to come here and to conduct the discussion about War Tax Resistance and Peace Taxes as a human Right?... Please, fast. No one? I think it's quite necessary, really. Please! (someone comes. Clapping. We can hear in the distance Bravo, Monica! )

Monica: How long have we got? Ten thirty? Eleven?

Pedro: Well, as long as people accept.

Monica: OK. Can you hear me? I haven't prepared this at all, so as I have been just volunteered. I don't know how long people want to discuss and what they want to discuss. There was a workshop this morning which discussed, talked about War Tax Resistance and Peace Tax campaigning as a human right but I'm not sure, are there other workshops that have also reported discussing these matters and there was also some of the big paper that's Juan Carlos Rois, isn't it? Yes, Juan Carlos Rois, which has been circulating. Perhaps the easiest is for people just to come in and I'll try to make sure they have a chance to speak.

(a voice in the background about changing the position of chairs in order to make a circle)

Monica: OK. Shall we take two minutes to put some chairs here or will it interfere with the translators work? No, the translators need to see what we are doing, so perhaps if we just come to the front... The translators are indicating they want to be able to see the people, but if you want to move forward a bit, so there will not be hiding all people at the back of the room, please.

Pedro: It's done, we have arranged it.

Monica: The translators need to be able to see everyone and to be able to see me. Are people happy with their sitting arrangements? I have no idea what issues particularly interest people, what aspects they want to talk about, so we will start the discussion and see where it goes. Can I remember to use the microphone because other wise the translators can't hear even the English and they can not translate into Spanish and if they can't hear the Spanish they won't be able to translate into English and I wont have a clue of what's happening, OK?

I've forgotten people's names already! Steve!

Steve: The issue I want you to address has a semantic focus. However I think it would help clarify, at least for me, because I have to sort of translate these documents as I read it just now and my particular concern is that by definition War Tax Resistance is a human right that we take for ourselves, no one can give us the right to be war tax resisters. No one can give us the right to be war tax resisters because it seems to me that it is by definition a right that we seize, I mean, to take the power into our own hands without the permission of governments. In fact, those of us who do War Tax Resistance knew we don't have the permission of governments, because governments some times stopped us in variably ways.

So I think, what I would prefer to focus on, because I think is the just of this, but may be not, may be that is the issue is not regularly recognised but I think what we are talking about is conscientious objection to the payment of war taxes as a human right just as we believe that conscientious objection to military participation is a human right and many of us have spent years struggling for that, some with more success than others.

The problem for me in making a semantic decision or distinction is that I as a fifteen years old boy in the USA decided that I was a conscientious objector to war and I was not about to wait for the state to say yes, you are or no, you aren't . And if the state had said no, then I would had gone to jail as it was at the state and I got a high number and I was lead at the hook and that's why I started doing War Tax Resistance.

So I think it may help us to be clear about specifically what we are seeking as a human right assuming that we mean is the official state's recognition of our right. Thank you.

Yolanda: If we are going to speak about the document I think I should first introduce it. It was an internal document written by somebody in the group from Madrid which was not supposed to be a document for all of us, but I gave it privately to some people because I was talking about it before. So it's not the document, it's one of the many ways of thinking which is now written and given to you and represents the group of Madrid, summarising a document of more than forty pages in only one and this is a result. We did it in a hurry, now to give it to you.

Monica: Perhaps I can say a little bit about what we discussed in the workshop this morning. Obviously, we spent a lot of time on it and there will be a report back tomorrow from Dominique and the full version of it will be in the final conference papers, but we felt, I think most of us, we did assert the right to act in accordance with our consciences and that we were demanding the right to resist war preparations and in whatever way. I don't know whether it helps.

We also felt that there would be advantages to our campaigns both in promoting the idea of war tax resistance and in campaigning for peace tax legislation, in discussing the issue in trying to debate or debating whether or not war tax resistance or conscientious objection were a human right and we saw this in the context of human rights and such as the right to life the most basic right and also in the context xxx right to resist evil and to fight and to resist injustice. Though we felt that we, as campaigners for war tax resistance and peace tax campaigns, we needed to focus our campaigning on a specific aspect but in the context of a human right to life and a human right to resist evil.

Larry: I just want to make two statements, one general and one more autobiographical. The general one is that I often find that in discussing rights it's helpful to turn them around and ask what obligations they entail. And it would be helpful for me if people who believe in war tax resistance as a human right would explain what obligations they believe that such right entails in everybody else.

The second thing is, a couple of years ago, the first time that my salary was levied I engaged in a correspondence in the newspaper of the school were I teach and a critic of mine wrote to say that she acknowledged my right to refuse to pay taxes, but she didn't acknowledged something else, she didn't like something else. And I wrote back to say what I thought then, and to some extent now which is that I don't think that I have the right to refuse to pay war taxes. I think that an act of civil disobedience that means that I think in some sense it's a crime I didn't expect the state to give me the right to commit the crime. My belief about that act is that I will do it regardless of whether it is a right or not and that the force of it depends if to some degree precisely in the fact that it is not a right according to me, but something that I take.

Alberto: I don't know what is really happening this evening. I would like to know about four documents, one quite long that has been summarised into English, and that have been distributed. A person undertook the responsibility for trying to prepare a kind of outline of the other three documents on the topic in order to discuss them altogether tonight. But now, I don't understand why, all these documents aren't here. I think there are at least four people who have prepared some documents that would be used as basis... That's why I would like to know how the one who took the charge haven't done it... Because I think in that way we are walking with no direction.

Monica: As I understand it, he is talking about the resolution that David Basset and Gerald Drewett and Yolanda Juarros and Erik Hummels are going to introduce a composite document as a resolution for the end of this conference. I don't know whether were they meant to be discussed tonight or tomorrow. Perhaps, one of the people who has looked at these documents can tell us what progress they have made and whether it is meant to be discussed tomorrow.

Gerald: The document the group of four are preparing is a final statement from this meeting, and we will present it to the general assembly tomorrow. It was never intended as far as I was aware to be presented to this meeting but it will be presented to the general assembly tomorrow. It is 99% finished, but it's not ready at this moment.

Monica: Thank you, Gerald. So we are not discussing the resolution on this subject. It will be brought to us tomorrow, but having a general discussion which is presumably meant to help us personally and our campaigns in developing these ideas and in using these ideas. Are our people happy with that?

Pedro: Anyway, if these people who have been discussing the declaration tell us what kind of discussions they have had this morning and this afternoon, it could be helpful for all of us in order to know what kind of discussion we should have, because I think that if we have to discuss it's better to discuss about the document and it would not make any sense to have a discussion when the document has been prepared perhaps with another kind of discussion. So I would like to invite these people to tell us about the discussions they have had.

Monica: Gerald, would you like to tell us about your discussion? Would one of the others? (There is a discussion with no microphone) It won't make any difference if it's someone else. Gerald? Thank you.

Gerald: I am reluctant and unprepared. We have prepared a statement which is designed to speak to our fellow citizens back in our own countries, so it is a statement that it is short and, we hope, a statement that is clear, and a statement that they can understand.

Our own discussion, actually, took a long time because we have the usual two elements which somehow at home managed to convince easily, but when we come to international conferences we always have a debate about it. And that is the one aspect of garnering legislation for the right of the individual not to contribute to militarism through taxation and the second element, which is essential for the success of the first, that individuals should refuse payment of such tax.

The aspect of it that we have met here, the development of it, is, of course, the strength of the Spanish organisation which in England we refer to as absolutist conscientious objectors . We have them, perhaps not to become absolutist conscientious objectors, but of course there will never be legislation which would satisfy every absolutist conscientious objector, never. That is in human nature. So we'll be always having this debate as to whether legislation is worth having. Should the government be left off the hook by this safety fuse being introduced into the system?

We would say those concerned with legislation that the next step that our fellow citizens can accept in building a society without armies is allowing individuals the human right to opt out from supporting armies. Perhaps the absolutist conscientious objection doesn't want anything to do with the parliamentary system. He or she is primarily concerned with dissolving armies. Some of us think that can be a step, some others think that it is a not further step. So consequently this debate about whether legislation should happen or not happen.

I have no doubt that all of us have the same vision of the new society. It is quite simply a question of how many steps or how few steps are necessary to build a society. And I think there are personally, I think xxx with our fellow citizens, because we can not build a society alone. It can only be built when we have converted them to our believes. Now that's saying rather a lot to have we transform society into a peaceful society it's what we mean and of course we also have to become more peaceful. There is no doubt about that.

So this is the general problem that we have tried to resolve with the formal words to be a declaration from this meeting tomorrow.

I would say now that if formal words are to be changed at all it would be only be changed after very serious considerations, not because tomorrow somebody pops up and says can we put this and no can we put that, because we have had very serious considerations of all the words and of the approach of the documents.

But now I've underlined or outlined the problems that probably every international conference will face. Then there will be no harm in giving you the hearing now. Thanks.

Yolanda: I have to acknowledge that it was quite difficult to get an agreement during the discussion after lunch, when we got together, but it was nice. I kind of enjoyed it because for me the most important point was to find a consensus and that was very hard. When Gerald speaks about our being absolutists (I wouldn't called it like that, but I don't mind, it's a word). At the moment I'm talking on my own behalf, I'm Yolanda, because I don't know what the others at this think about the situation. there are only two things that I find a little, still to speak about what Gerald said. Which legislation am I personally for? The one which abolishes armies. I would agree with that legislation, of course. The other is that we don't want to have anything to do with parliament. We don't want to have to do anything with this parliament we've got now, where you vote every four years and then you forget about the rest. I'm not interested in this kind of parliament for sure. But in our group we built rules and we work together and we construct ideas and it works out. Not always as good as we wanted, but we are there as an example, or trying to be, trying to learn to be an example.

Perhaps, the third thing is about changing this society, of transforming this society. Perhaps you are not asking or we are not looking to transform this society but to build a new way of living together, where everybody has got a space or place.

Pedro: At this moment I think it's quite clear that we are discussing about a discussion that has already been held, but we have not had news about it. I've had, because I'm in the office and I can read all the papers that pass there trough, but I don't know if most of the people know about what has happened, about the discussion and I think it would be of value if we have a good reference about this paper, this draft of declaration that this group has been preparing this morning. I don't know, I have read the papers so perhaps I know more than the assembly knows and I don't know if the other people from the meeting want to read this draft or they think it is not necessary.

First, Gerald has told to us that at this moment it is not finished and perhaps until tomorrow they wouldn't be able to present this document to all the assembly, but we are here in order to discuss, in order to talk all together, so, perhaps, can anyone of you read us the paper so all the people will know what we are talking now about? If the commission is not against this idea, I say. Gerald? David?

Monica: Do the people who draft it want to think about it? Can Gerald answer?

Gerald: Well, if I can borrow Pedro for five minutes we can bring the statement into this meeting. I say that you will have full preparation for it when it's presented tomorrow.

Monica: Would people like to have the draft document tonight? Now, if possible? Kees.

Kees: Earlier tonight, can I be heard by the interpreters? Right. Earlier tonight and in a previous session I also drew out this problem. Of course we have different models of action within this general conference. We've always have them and we will have for a long time to come. and I call it always the merit of complexity, because they will exist side by side, they do live in face one another, and they are all steps we should take. The one step doesn't exclude the other. We are in a region I believe where a long time ago people also, but then not for ideological reasons but xxx, were hunted by others. We shouldn't hunt anyone in this general conference. So earlier tonight there was a please for xxx. Please, let us understand one another! Let us also set one another free to follow certain paths and yet hold us one to another. This has been said: if this statement is distributed, I would yet again recommend very strongly a procedure which we often use. That is: please, take this paper, do not sit down until half past eleven to try a discussion any longer, sleep on it tonight and consider it tomorrow, because after all, at the steering committee, Pedro was the chairperson, we asked people to draw up something for consideration at the general assembly. Because the steering committee makes recommendations for the general assembly to consider it.

So, if we start that discussion I have a feeling we will end up not understanding one another to say, to listen and not understanding the statement. Please, take the statement, read it carefully and let the discussion for tomorrow.

Monica: Kees, can you pass the microphone forward, please?

Ursula: I didn't think I wanted to speak tonight or to make a contribution to this subject, but I have felt in the last few minutes that I've to say something personal here about our own history which I think has a bearing on the subject we're discussing, on the two ways of doing things. The two aspects of our, of that always before, I say we have in every conference. When Arthur and I started our war tax resistance, 1982, there were no members, no supporters on the British peace tax campaign who had started sometime before them. We continued with our resistance year after year whenever we were presented with a bill from the Inland Revenue in England. And as some of you will know, the third time round the inland revenue took the step to give us the choice of paying or going to prison. During the time that he (Arthur) was waiting for prison, and the three weeks that he was actually in prison, the peace tax campaign in Britain were very supportive and very helpful to us. But no one knew, neither we ourselves, not the peace tax campaign, and the day when Arthur would be released, and when they heard about the day of his release, they found to everyone's surprise that was a day that the first British Peace Tax bill was introduced into parliament. And on the morning of the bill, the MP who was introducing the bill came down to the prison, met Arthur coming out and we both went to the House of parliament with him to hear his speech, which he was able to base on the fact that he had been to the prison that morning to meet Arthur Windsor out of prison and that someone like Arthur should not have been sent to prison because of what he was doing and that there was people like Arthur who finally, by extraparlamentary actions calls progress in our way of ordering our lives together.

Now, some people call this a coincidence, but some of us felt it was providence that these two things coincided on the same day. And I think it changed Arthur's and my attitude to the whole process and we realised how necessary both aspects of our work are. And as Gerald has said, the legal process would not be necessary if there weren't those of us who were tax resisters but we have also realised that there is a place for the legislative process which we have supported always since then. In our own Quaker meeting that particular year there was a reconciliation of these two aspects of the work.

Monica: Can I say something as a procedure point? We spent quite a long time discussing whether or not we are going to be able to consider the resolution that will be presented to us tomorrow. I think that it's clear that it will take too much time if we have to stop, get it copied now, circulate it and read it and we'll end up as someone said, not discussing it till half past eleven tonight. So what I suggest is that we ask Gerald to make sure that we will have copies of that, preferably tonight, if not at breakfast time, so that we'll have sometime to read it before the discussion. (A voice in the background). Thank you. Gerald says that it will be definitely available tonight so we'll have it tonight. We can read it in light of the discussions we have had all during today and yesterday, so we will be able to discuss it tomorrow. I suggest we go on discussing the general issues of our views and our feelings, I've found Ursula's contribution very helpful. OK? We will talk till eleven tonight.

Who's got the microphone? Do you want to say something, Elias?

Elias: I don't understand what's going on! Well. I'm trying to understand what's going on, I mean, do we want or not to introduce a peace or war tax resistance to be a part of the legislatives as human rights. Is this point or not? I don't understand.

Monica: This is one point.

Elias: This is one point?

Monica: My understanding is that many campaigns, people in this group they want a law to permit people to redirect their taxes away from the military purposes. That is the purpose of the British campaign I represent. I think it is also the purpose of all the campaigns xxx that I heard today. The Conference as a whole does not have to decide its position. It would have chance to agree or not with the statement, a policy statement an this matter the Gerald, David, Yolanda and Erik have been working on and which we'll have tonight. We can not discuss that tonight because we haven't seen it.

Elias: Is it related to the subject?

Monica: Which is related to the subject of war tax resistance as a human right . But we can not discuss it tonight because we have not got it. We will have it before tomorrow, we will discuss it tomorrow. What I understood we were doing in this session was having a general discussion of how we personally or as organisations feel about the relative importance of deciding war tax resistance is a human right.

It may be that we feel it's irrelevant to our work, there will be others for whom it is central to our work. Ursula has said when she first get involved it was purely a matter of conscience. Now they see the conscience, the action in accordance with one's conscience being one part of the campaign that also includes working to raise the issue in parliament and to get legislation.

Elias: Is there any conflict between conscience and the state or the system or the legislation? I could hear today here some voices of that earlier revolutionarists of sixties and fifties. It's good to have young people with such emotions but if we are thinking that we have to change the world and to have more people coming to us, I believe part of the system, part of the process has to be giving some kind of security to the people who would like to join the process. And what should do, we do it and in a non-violent way, I would say. If we are calling for non-violent resistance and we can do that non-violence incorporating that Peace Tax or War Tax Resistance as a part of the legislative system of any country, this is part of a non-violent process for making or enforcing the change.

Monica: Would anyone like to respond to that? Arthur would like to say something.

Arthur: Although Ursula is my wife, I do agree what she has settled about (laughs) our process, but what I'm going to say may sounds as if I'm disagreeing with her, but it's not so. I have the greatest sympathy with the absolutist positions as has been expressed not only here but in Urnieta already when we talked about the legal side of the Spanish positions. But I can see this as an ideal that has to be attained eventually and in the middle term what will be do?, what do we do? So that is why I think that we have to ..., this is one of the ways in which we can go forward while we still having the ideal in front of us.

Abolishing military activities all together... This is an ideal, the ordinary man in the street is not going to understand it at this moment or even well, certainly not sympathise with. So we can go on small steps as we can.

Monica: I think that this is, perhaps, something that varies very much from country to country. In England, in the UK it seems to take a lot of effort to get a small change and perhaps the Spaniards are lucky in being able to take larger steps. I think we all individually and collectively have to find our own routes as some of us prefer the fast motorways and other ones others although that goes slowly and steadily. But I think we all will probably would agree to one or the other if we can get there.

Yolanda: I excuse myself for speaking again, but I want to make as clear as possible for me this going by little steps . I think our way of walking is going by very little steps and instead of legislation we are talking about education for peace, only until we, the people sitting here or every other people learn about what it means living in peace, we are not ready for any legislation. So we really believe in education for peace as a way and no in legislation, as only a meanwhile for a short term. We want something else, and instead of legislation I would speak about education. So that it's for me a very short step. The only one I'm prepared for, to be educated in peace.

Kees: In the workshop we had in lobbying for peace tax legislation, we had information also, obviously, from various countries, but the information from the United States included the following element: If the bill is adopted in the United States, then a tax form will be sent out to 160 million of then on an annual basis containing information, educating people that they have a choice. Isn't that education? And I think that it is awful other people that you reach on an annual basis and that you challenged that they should make such a chance. So I can distinguish but I can't separate them. And I'd like to distinguish between all of us, but I don't like us to separate.

Jesus: I don't think that there is such a big contradiction here. I think that the movement on conscientious objection here in Spain, and not only the movement on war tax resistance, understands that laws, legislation is a instrument, a tool (this is a really interesting word for the movement on conscientious objection), and that this tool carries another educative process, but I will refer to history as some English people have done: In our country we have been working for a legislation, for a law on Conscientious Objection. We worked too for civil service. I don't think we must avoid, from the beginning, this struggle for legislation. But this is not the only thing we should ask. In most of the campaigns we do in our country, we put in the papers we sent to the exchequer that they must send a part of our tax to the alternative project we say and, in the same paper, we ask them to promote on our behalf a law of conscientious objection in taxes. So I want to say that to express in a paper this wish of legislation doesn't take us away from the radical sense of our idea.

Alberto: I would like to defend the non-division of these two options, and in support of this idea, I will explain our experience in the anti-nuclear struggle.

We have had strong fight against nuclear option in our country: we have fight in the street, we have stopped trains, we have been punished with one year imprisonment (that we have not pay due to the Italian law). But, anyway, all these facts have served to create a public opinion. And this public opinion, combined in some way with the facts of Chernobyl, pushed our country to do a referendum and close the nuclear power plants. This has been regarded as a success, because the preceding nuclear choice was followed by a shutting of the nuclear plants, all new projects were given up and also the built nuclear plants were transformed into a new option.

All these facts can confirm the double line . This means that it is necessary to work outside the institutions, because the institutions don't change unless there is an external movement, but it is also important to have the possibility of working inside the institutions. As the Spanish friend told us, the change of the institutions can no be regarded as the final objective of our struggle. Our final objective is not to reach the right to have a non-violent defence, our final objective is to abolish the armies.

But an intermediate step may be to have a law that allows this option. That's why we, as tax resisters, regard this fact as the end of our campaign. Of course it doesn't mean that, once reached the right to pay for a non-violent defence, we will finish being objectors. Probably, most of us will keep on or begin another campaign. But the important thing is to take those steps, not to wait.

Joy: I must start by saying that I feel very much a new member of this conference, because this is the first time that I have attended it. I must confess that this is, perhaps, for me out of place to speak tonight because I'm a new member of this organisation, a new representative here and I'm not familiar with all the procedures. But up until this point this conference has been an inspiration and a show of courage that I was happily going to go back to Canada and report to them. Tonight's events however, are disturbing me enormously as a human being because it appears to me that we are now a room full of people arguing about which step is the right one to take first, second or third and it's becoming almost a nationalistic debate.

And I'd like it in a very much group of parents the small toddlers learning to walk. We all know that some children learn to walk maybe at 9 or 10 months old age, other children may not walk until they are 18 months old. However, they all learn to walk on two feet, and do it very well, and a year later everyone has forgotten how the process was for them to learn to walk. I would like to summit very respectfully that we take this kind of approach to this discussion tonight and that we show more respect for those who are taking a long route to walk on two feet, and not compare it with those who are taking a short journey to stand up on two feet. As long as we accept the fact that eventually all of us are sharing the goal of having all of us as groups working in this movement to be walking on those on to feet and that the finally goal of having an absence of war. Demilitarisation is the act of walking on two feet and we need to be patient and allow each one of us to take the journey at what ever pace we can within the political framework we work in.

Monica: Thank you, Joy. You're very welcome to come to your first conference. I would like to see you in the next one. I think we all have different views, we do actually recognised that we proceed in different ways at different statements. I don't sense we are in disagreement, really. We are, I think, simply hearing things that we are perhaps uncertain about. I think it's actually better than two years ago in Brussels. I think we are catching up with each other recognising our differences and our common objectives but perhaps other people would like to comment a suggest. We have about five or ten minutes more discussion.

Gerald: Perhaps I can have just a little historical input on this question of steps because UK legislation, the first legislation to allow conscientious objection to military service allowed the absolutist position and that was in 1916. OK. You haven't got it in Spain and you haven't got it in a lot of countries, but that absolutist position in 1916 and again in 1939 and again in 1945 when civilian conscription was introduced allowed the absolutist conscientious objector who could prove his position to a tribunal to stay at home and put his feet in front of the fire and ignore the existence of war if that was his choice. So even within our European society, some legislatures are in advance of others. We are in a different position in the UK because we have not had military conscription since 1957. That doesn't mean there are not conscientious objectors, because is a fairest way in the Peace Tax campaigner concern every adult has to choose to be a conscientious objector because we have a professional army and every person in the country is contributing through taxation to that professional army. So the question now is not less than ever, it is more than ever. And when we have persuaded every citizen to be a conscientious objector to paying military element in taxation, then we will achieve a country without an army. To me I don't see problems and probably there are no problems. But I can see a historical perspective here which is only to clear which is the way to our go.

Pedro: I would like to say that we have heard several times about Spanish people and I think it is not just (No, I'm not talking about the Basque people, be quiet). I want to say that the opinion that Yolanda has shown is not only the opinion of the Spanish people. I've heard something like this from the Italian representative, because he has said that our last purpose should be the abolition of the armies, that to reach a law can be just a step to allow us the last purpose and if we are talking about tax resistance and peace taxes as a human right we should think in the final objective, not in the steps. In a short declaration we should talk about the most important ideas.

Steve: As also a newcomer to this conferences although I represent a committee in the US which has sent I think a representative to all this conferences I don't see a distinction between somebody who is here for the first time and others except to honour the longevity of those who have been on all this conferences, which I do. The other thing is that what I've experienced this evening is confusion rather than any kind of particular disagreement or enmity or anything like that. It is a little confusing if you are discussing a subject, and you think there is a document related to that and you don't know what a document is. I guess, I want to go on and say I didn't experienced this as a, you know, people say against each other at all. I experienced to that we were a little confused about what we were doing here, but that's very different. I fell we all confused together so we are wrong in the same boat.

Sven: I'm Sven, from Denmark. I would like to introduce a slightly different aspect at this matter. I would like to talk about the labouring of emotions. When we do our campaign work we decide what to write letter, what to distribute the folders, which street corner we should stand on, we receive telephone calls, letters, we answer, we put stamps on. All that is mostly intellectual work and naturally it has to be done, but I would like to say to the xxx friends don't forget, don't try to avoid the emotional side of our work, of our efforts, of our campaign. There are many active young people who have an idea and work for this idea but when the moment comes, when suddenly that ideal can be realised, can be created in the actual world in some question or other, then they fall away from it. And why? Some fall away because they're afraid of the change. As long as the change, as long as you have to fight for the change in some matter, you're enthusiastic and help, but deep down in your conscience we're afraid of that change which you are fighting for and your happiness is to fight for the change and you feel secure because you know you'll never obtain that change. It's a bit hard what I'm saying now. I'm not criticising anybody, I'm just saying what could happen to somebody, somewhere. And so I say let us not be so busy with office, putting stamps on those letters that we forget that we fail in on our souls working through emotionally and let us not avoid the labourance of emotion, but let us.

So let ourselves into this labour of emotion in order to work through the labour of emotions and find the way to a solution in a much better life and in a much better working together.

Susan: I really liked what Joy said about the children learning to walk. I've recently been through that with my own children but I don't want to be too more xxx that probably most of us will die before this particular babies of ours learn to walk and that what we're doing is very important as we are doing it not because of the ultimate end which seems so very far and perhaps slipping farther and farther away as I get older in my experience. I feel the work we are doing is very important and how we do it is very important. But argue over which way is better than another I think that it really matters, but that we can't waste our time saying that this method has more value. Perhaps it's an interesting exercise if we can do it in a way that doesn't disturb or harm each other, because, you know, well let us introduce all the other things we care about, what about the environment and what about AIDS and what about hunger. Are we going to say which one is more important than the others? Of course that not, so we need to be very appreciative people who are taking a completely different approach are doing it, and you know that goodness we are doing and hopefully we can encourage more people to join us.

Koen: I've been thinking during this whole discussion, thinking whether I wanted to say something on this or not. It seems to me the question of war tax resistance as a human right if we look it as a human right, then we have to base it on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and for me it has everything to do with conscientious objection which is based on article 9 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the freedom of Conscience, Religion and Thought. Now, it's a little bit of a struggle and still as a continuous struggle to get Conscientious Objection to military service recognised as a respectable exercise of that right. So this brings me to two points of reasoning: One is that on that basis that conscientious objection to military service there is a very good case to be made .... based on this right. The war tax resistance or conscientious objection to paying for taxes is a logical extension of that and this also brings me to the second point which is it will be much more difficult to argue this case as it is really very difficult to get a world where a whole lot of different nations and states and you have to get this argument passed through representatives nations and states who don't want to see even conscientious objection to military service as an exercise of legitimate human right. Then, they're not going to see war tax resistance as legal, as a legitimate exercise of this human right either, so it's not going to be easy. But I think this is a path that we should take.

Why do I want to say something on that? Because in the question of conscientious objection to military service of course we have too these two positions where we have civilian service and where we have a whole group of people saying we don't want a civilian service and a group of people who do say we want civilian service . But the interesting point is that on the question of the right to conscientious objection both groups want the recognition of the right to conscientious objection to military service as a human right. Only the group that doesn't want to do alternative civilian service says no, we won't do alternative civilian service but we see that it isn't a legitimate human right to be able to refuse to go to the army . And I think this is why I also believe there isn't this opposition here on the question of the right as a human right to war tax resistance. I think there is not a real reason for a big division on that, because the question whether you want a legislation or not is a next step, I mean, there has been a discussion on steps the whole evening but in something that comes afterwards anyway. The first thing is if is it a right or not. So I don't think there is a reason for a division there. If I draw a similarity on what's happening on the conscientious objection to military service issue.

The second set of considerations is what's the meaning of the concept human right and this brings me to something Larry said on his first intervention. What exactly is human right? If human right is something that we devise as a mechanism that we devise in the western world to go against the nation states, or to hold against the nation states to be able to say to the people in power in our societies you can't do everything, we have rights . And after World War II we affirmed that we have these universal human rights as such. But it always stays just a mechanism of affirming that we, the people, we, the individuals, conscience to be just above in any way any authority wants. Now, this can work quite differently in other societies, but this spirit of resistance which is also in some concept of human rights we shouldn't forget that and sometimes there is a very big danger of forgetting it and I feel that has been referred to as the absolutist position tonight. It points the fingers exactly at this danger you can quite easily forget when you are going into asking for the recognition of the rights or so asking for the recognition of the legislation that is not just the legislation, it's not just the right you want. It's actually preserving the spirit of resistance that should be done. And this bring me to a very acute question which I experience on my own work at the European Bureau of Conscientious Objection which is that there is a very inverse relationship between the recognition of the right and the spirit of resistance by most of the people who use this right. If I look to conscientious objection to military service I see that as long as the right is not guaranteed in the state, you need to be very convinced to say the state no, I won't go to the army . Once the right is guaranteed, you look twenty years later and you get, you know, people saying well, I'm using the civilian service, but actually I'm not against the army at all . And you get a large proportion of people saying this kind of things. And this is a very difficult relationship for me to understand, because I can't say that I want to refuse people the right to say no. I mean, it is a human right to be able to say no, in conscience I don't want to go to the army, but what it leaves in a society can be precisely the inverse, the spirit of resistance goes down.

Monica: I think what Koen has said has been interesting ideas that we should, perhaps, take them with us and think about them in order to discuss. Now, it is ten past eleven, the translators have been working very hard and I think it is time for a break. I'm sure the discussion will continue formally tomorrow and informally tonight and any other time. I'd like also to thank everyone for their patience for the confusion to walk with us tonight. I think the document for tomorrow that Gerald and company have drafted has now been circulated. I haven't got a copy, thus someone know where these copies are? Thank you and thank you very much every one.

The draft as it was Saturday night:

DECLARATlON

made by participants in the 5th International Conference of Peace Tax Campaigners and War Tax Resisters, at Hondarribia, Basque Country, Spain, 16-18 September 1994, concerning

THE RIGHT OF REFUSING TO PAY FOR THE MILITARY ELEMENT IN TAXATION

All citizens have rights and duties, both as individuals and as citizens, and they also have the responsibility to hold those rights and duties in balance.

No person should be forced to violate a deeply-held conviction, a conviction of conscience. Our concern is to contribute to the peaceful solution of conflicts; one aspect of this is our compelling concern for recognition of the right not to be involved, actively or passively, in the killing of our fellow human beings.

Most citizens accept as a civic responsibility the defence of their country by military means. But we hold the strong conviction that nobody should support military preparations or actions, either by personal service or by contribution through taxation. We also hold it to be a violation of conscience that anybody should be forced into such support.

We ask our fellow citizens to recognize our deeply-held convictions and provide for them. We can then work together with all citizens in building a society in which armies are not necessary and in which all human rights are respected.

Pedro: Wait a minute, please.

Arnold: In the workshop Religious Bodies we decided to write a letter to religious bodies for a support for us and it's ready now and we hope that from every country someone will sign it. And I ask you to sign this letter, there is one English and one German version on it. So come here from every country to sign the one who wants it.

Main Page for Hondarribia