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Italian Campaign for Conscientious Objection to Military Expenditure (OSM)

By definition, the conscientious objection to military expenditure campaign is one of civili disobedience. It was launched in Italy in 1982, when tax payers were invited to withhold 5.5% of their taxes, the equivalentof the States expenditure on the military.

Because of this civil disobedience, 25 trials were held and hundreds of distraints carried out.

As OSM have tried to involve more people, the emphasis has moved away from civil disobedience, and the Campaign has offered everyone the opportunity to become a conscientious objector without breaking the law. There are now various possible levels of involvement, ranging from just being a sympathiser ofthe Campaign to being a resister who actually breaks state laws. Only a few of the 2,230 supporters actually break the law. Can wehonestly still speak of OSM as a civil disobedience campaign?

The political aims of OSM were not clearly determined -it was a simple protest against militarism. This lack of foresight has negatively affected the campaign. Although political aims have now been defined, it has been too late to make up for this initial improvisation and lack of homogeneity.

a) one step at a time
If we launch another civil disobedience campaign in the future, we should first try to reach a solution through legal methods: petition, negotiation, arbitration. Only after these methods have been tried is civil disobedience justified.

b) Campaign supporters must be prepared.
Those who take part in civil disobedience campaigns must be aware of what they are doing and be ready to accept the consequences.

Aims partially reached:
1. The campaign is no longer prosecuted as illegal as it was before.

2. Several bills have been presented to parliament to obtain a nonviolent popular defence.

3. The presentation of the reofrm bill of conscientious objection and community work instead of military service - this bill includes some DPN principles as an experiment.

4. The recognition by the Constitutional Court that Italians can defend their country by nonviolent means as well as by armed military service.

5. Discussion of the possibility of giving part of taxes to peace aims as it is now possible by law to give .8% to churches.

Aims not yet reached:
1. Reforn of the law which regulates conscietnious objection to military service and community work.
2. a law which recognises the right to choose to give a part of taxes to the DPN and not to the armed forces.
3. the formal setting up of a school for preparing conscientious objectors.

Report on 1995 Campaign
Projects funded from witheld money:
In 1995 the Campaign couldn't finance either international or national projects because the 1994 cheque sent to the Inland revenue on the advice of the President of the Republic was neither cahsed nor sent back.

The 1995 cheque presented to the President of the Republic and was immediately given back. OSM will support a macroproject of the secretary for non-iolent defence including fundinga network for non-violent education at our 'Peace Embassy' in Kossovo, International Campa dn IPRI.

The decrease of conscientious objectors is due to:
1. difficulties following the changes in the Italian tax laws
2. tiredness due to only partially reaching aims
3. the breakdown of local coordinating groups
4. difficulties in gaining access to the mass media.

In the national assembly held in february 1996, the OSM promoting Committee and local co-ordinatorsdecided not to stop the campaign, despite the decrease in numbers, as it is one of the only movements against militarismin Italy, and the constitution of a professional army with duties of international intervention is taking shape.

The campaign, however, must be renewed and its aims more clearly defined. The political committee of the campaign is working on this.