LESSONS LEARNED (?): GRANTING REFUGEE STATUS TO THOSE OPPOSING MILITARY SERVICE IN THE AGE OF NEO-MILITARIZATION Open Access

The current age of neo-militarization requires a re-assessment of the UNHCR standards concerning the treatment of conscientious objection because they do not adequately address the problems faced by conscientious objectors. Ambiguities surrounding the nature of the “right” to conscientious objection, lack of further standards conceptualizing alternative service, discriminatory treatment of conscientious objection based on political convictions, and partial conscientious objection to certain conflicts still need to be addressed. Unfortunately, this shows that the most recent UNHCR Guidelines on the subject do not reflect a comprehensive analysis formulated in light of lessons learned from the past but instead provide a somewhat progressive yet ambiguous set of standards. The current UNHCR standards on the treatment of conscientious objectors are inadequate, so is the current international human rights regime in spite of recent progress. The current UNHCR standards, however, can still be strengthened through a full alignment of the international refugee protection regime with the human rights regime. The international community cannot realize this alignment without further reinforcement of the UNHCR mandate in practice.

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