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G.Z. v. Austria, dec., No. 5591/72, ECommHR (Plenary), 2 April 1973


Conscientious objection and military service in Austria. Conscientious objection on religious grounds (Roman Catholic). 

Normative references

Art. 4 ECHR
Art. 9 ECHR


1. The punishment, even through criminal sanctions, of those who refuse to perform the military service does not conflict with the Convention: Art. 9 ECHR must be read in the light of Art. 4 ECHR, c. 3, lett. b), according to which military service or substitute service is not considered “forced labor”.

2. The recognition of conscientious objection to military service falls within the margin of appreciation of the member States of the Council of Europe. There is no obligation to provide accommodation for the exercise of conscientious objection in the context of military service.

3. Whether a member state of the Council of Europe recognizes the right to conscientious objection to military service, requiring to perform a mandatory alternative civil service does not violate the Convention. 


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