6

Summary and Conclusions

World-wide, systems of obligatory military service are in decline. Progressive shortenings of the length of service, often until it is barely long enough for the most basic of military training, have in many cases been followed by the complete suspension of call-up. Even where this has not yet happened, the military itself frequently sees conscripts as irrelevant to modern operational needs, and leads the discussion about the future professionalisation of the armed forces. As a result many of the issues, predicated on an environment of conscription, which have hitherto dominated discussions about conscientious objection to military service - notably the suitability of arrangements for providing alternatives to obligatory military service - are relevant in fewer and fewer societies. Conscientious objection itself, however, has neither gone away, nor become irrelevant. Instead the focus shifts to three aspects which have in the past been comparatively ignored.

Having said this, it is appropriate to summarise a number of findings of this study which are particularly relevant to situations where conscription still applies:

Special care has to be taken in the case of those while they are minors are presented with circumstances where they may or may not decide to apply for conscientious objector status. In particular, no decision which they make at this stage should be treated as binding them for the whole of life.