Om 3 December 2013, UNHCR published new Guidelines on claims for refugee status by deserters and persons avoiding service in State armed forces, as well as forced recruitment by non-State armed groups. UNHCR states that new guidelines are necessary because of considerable developments both in the practice of States and in the restrictions placed on military service by international law.
The right of States to require military service is recognized by the right to self-defense in Article 51 of the UN Charter. However, there is also a right to conscientious objection to State military service, derived from the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion contained in Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Guidelines explore in detail the possible conflict between these rights.
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