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Grandrath v. Germany, dec., No. 2299/64, ECommHR (Plenary), 12 December 1966


Total conscientious objection and military service in Germany. Conscientious objection and disparity treatment among ministers of different religious denominations. 

Normative references

Art. 4 ECHR
Art. 9 ECHR 
Art. 14 ECHR 


1. Any exemption from military service falls within the margin of appreciation of the contracting States, pursuant to Art. 4 ECHR.

2. Conscientious objectors, should that right be recognized, may be required to perform an alternative civil service: there is no violation of Art. 9 ECHR, taken alone or in conjunction with Art. 14 ECHR. 
(In the instant case, Mr Grandrath was a minister of Jehovah's Witnesses and refused to perform both the military service and the alternative civilian service. He alleged to be discriminated against, since Roman Catholic and Protestant ministers were fully exempt from conscription). 


This case was overruled by Bayatyan v. Armenia (2011) and the subsequent case-law.