For centuries Quakers have objected to war and armed service on grounds of conscience. In 1916, we also fought for the right to conscientious objection in law. Conscientious objection in Britain today can be seen as upholding the right to refuse to pay for others to kill on our behalf.

Quakers also campaign for exemption to military taxation. In Britain, there has not been military conscription since 1963, but UK residents continue to pay for war through taxes.

Read more about the history of Quaker conscientious objection during wartime.

Take action

    International Conscientious Objectors Day

    Every year on 15 May, people around the world organise events and activities to commemorate conscientious objectors past and present.

    International Conscientious Objectors Day provides an opportunity not only to honour those who opposed and refused to fight in wars but also for us to reflect on the legacy of conscientious objection and stand in solidarity with conscientious objectors around the world today.

    Quakers have resisted compulsory military service since it was introduced into law in January 1916, and many chose to register as conscientious objectors. A small but substantial number of young Quaker men did choose to join the armed forces, feeling this was the quickest way to end the war.

    Quakers continue to challenge militarism in all its forms. Such action is driven by our faith, which calls us to work unceasingly for peace and to live in that life and power 'that takes away the occasion of all war'.

    Ideas for International Conscientious Objectors Day

    Support Conscience | Conscience is a UK charity that campaigns for an increase in the proportion of tax spent on peace-building. They also campaign for the legal right for individuals to choose that their taxes be spent on peace-building instead of war and preparations for war. Learn more on the Conscience website.

    Subscribe to receive action alerts Find out about cases of conscientious objection or anti-militarist action from War Resisters' International. On receiving an alert you can take action by completing an email form. This will ensure you can quickly and easily contact the authorities in support of a conscientious objector. Register for alerts (near foot of linked web page).

    Write to prisoners for peace You can support conscientious objectors who have been imprisoned for refusing to join the military by writing to them.

    On 1 December, supporters of conscientious objection mark Prisoners for Peace Day. War Resisters' International publishes a list of prisoners who are either conscientious objectors or who have taken non-violent actions to disrupt preparations for war. Find out more and get involved.

    International Conscientious Objectors Day ceremony in London

    The International Conscientious Objectors Day group – a coalition whose members include Quaker Peace and Social Witness – organise an annual ceremony to remember all those who have struggled for the right to refuse to kill. It's also a chance to offer solidarity to today's conscientious objectors across the world. You can read details of the event and others around the country here.

    Organise your own activity locally You may wish to organise your own event in a public place to commemorate conscientious objectors past and present. It may be that you do so separately from other formally organised commemorative events. The Peace team is happy to assist wherever possible: Please let us know if you are holding your own commemoration.

    Promote peace education resources in your local school The QPSW Peace Education Programme has created a range of resources to promote education rooted in positive peace and justice.

    These include two resources titled 'Conscience' and 'Conviction' that explore conscientious objection and encourage young people to think about the steps needed to take to create a world without war. View and download Quaker peace education resources.

    Contact us

    Peace Campaigns
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