Welcome to USCIRF

USCIRF Releases New Report about Conscientious Objection

August 26, 2020

USCIRF Releases New Report about Conscientious Objection

Washington, DC – The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) today released the following new legislation factsheet about conscientious objection, which is the right to refuse military service based on religious beliefs:

Conscientious Objection Legislation Factsheet - This factsheet explains the international human rights standards that govern conscientious objection. Many states struggle with balancing national security concerns and human rights. Nevertheless, governments must ensure the right to object to military service based on genuinely-held religious beliefs as an integral part of the absolute right to hold beliefs. The report outlines human rights standards for laws on conscientious objection, including the process to obtain this status. When compliant with these principles, civilian alternatives to military service can facilitate the contribution of conscientious objectors to the public good, while respecting their beliefs and rights. In countries without provisions for conscientious objection to mandatory military service, individuals often face imprisonment or discrimination. In this factsheet, USCIRF calls on states to ensure their laws comprehensively protect conscientious objectors and to release all individuals currently detained for this reason.

In its 2020 Annual Report, USCIRF condemned the treatment of conscientious objectors in Eritrea, Turkmenistan, and Azerbaijan.

In October 2019, USCIRF launched its FoRB Victims List, a database that collects information on states and entities that USCIRF has recommended for designation as “countries of particular concern,” “entities of particular concern,” or countries on the “Special Watch List.” This database includes several victims that are imprisoned for conscientious objection, including Bahtiyar Atahanov and Jovidon Bobojonov, whose cases are highlighted in the factsheet.


The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) is an independent, bipartisan federal government entity established by the U.S. Congress to monitor, analyze, and report on threats to religious freedom abroad. USCIRF makes foreign policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State, and Congress intended to deter religious persecution and promote freedom of religion and belief. To interview a Commissioner, please contact USCIRF at media@uscirf.gov or Danielle Ashbahian at dashbahian@uscirf.gov.