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VIth International Conference on Peace Tax Campaigns and War Tax Resistance


Peace tax campaigners and war tax resisters first gathered at an international conference over ten years ago, in the German town of Tubingen in 1986. Since then there have been five further international conferences approximately two years apart and hosted by a different country each time. The Dutch hosted the conference in 1988 in Vierhouten and two years later it was the Italians' turn to offer hospitality in Aosta. In 1992 the conference was in Brussels while in 1994, it was in the small Basque town of Hondarribia close to the border between Spain and France.

Conscience, the UK Peace Tax Campaign welcomed the International Conference in 1996 to a pleasant conference centre in Hoddesdon, just north of London. It attracted over 70 participants from 16 countries for a weekend of workshops and discussions. It was a busy programme with two main speakers, twelve different workshop sessions and plenty of interesting people.

This report of the conference includes many of the documents which were distributed before and during the conference with together with summaries of the main speakers and reports of the workshops. We have tried to include all the relevant material in this conference report and hope that it will be both interesting and useful.

The two main speakers, Barbara Forbes and Erik Hummels, both gave very clear and informative presentations. Edited versions of these are included in this report, along with summaries of the presentations from Sergey Nikitin, the first Russian ever to attend one of these conferences, and from Thierry Gerard and Mario Pedretti of France.

Reports from the twelve workshops make up a large part of this document. We trust that they are sufficiently accurate and detailed to be useful to those who did not attend. They contain a wealth of information which should be useful in our future campaigning.

Four years ago in Brussels the idea of a non-governmental organisation to lobby internationally was raised. Conscience and Peace Tax International held its founding assembly at the conference in Spain and its second biennial assembly was held in 1996 at Hoddesdon. Papers for this and a report of the meeting are included.

One of the most interesting aspects of the international conference is always finding out what the other campaigns have been doing, and eleven reports on campaigns in nine countries are included. These are slightly edited versions of the reports which were in the preparatory papers for the conference.

As the timing of the conference coincided with International Prisoners for Peace Day, 1st December, a symbolic action took place. This was followed up by the delivery of letters to embassies and an account of this is included. The report also includes a list of participants, details of the International Projects, a summary of the financing of the conference and other information.

We would like to thank everyone who helped make the conference a success: the participants without whom there would have been no conference, High Leigh for their hospitality, the staff of Conscience the Peace Tax Campaign, Phil Rimmer and Nat Taplin, the Conscience Executive Committee and the International Conference Committee which did so much of the hard work.

Gerald Drewett obtained adequate funding and kept the conference finances under control, Kiri Smith, with the assistance of Judy Jones, dealt with all the administration, while Eleanor Barden, Brenda Boughton and Monica Frisch between them ensured that everything that needed to be done was done well. Thanks are due to Stephen Warburton for driving the minibus, to the interpreters and to the technician who ensured the equipment worked.

We must acknowledge gratefully the financial assistance provided by the Joseph Rowntree Trust, the Give Peace a Chance Trust, various Quaker meetings, the Peace Taxpayers in the United States and the Dutch Peace Movement. This enabled us to keep down the cost to participants and to offer assistance to our friends from India, Russia, Palestine and France. It is also making it possible for this report to be translated into Hungarian. The conference was organised with the support of Quaker Peace and Service.

We look forward to meeting again at the next conference in New Delhi, India at the end of 1998.