The broken rifle has been in use since the early 20th century. | more >

WAR RESISTERS' INTERNATIONAL

The War Resisters' International was the first international pacifist organization to not only oppose all kinds of wars, but also to encourage individuals of all persuasions, philosophical, religious and political, to translate that opposition into action.

The origins of WRI dates back to 1904, when an international anti-militarist Congress was held in the Netherlands. The Congress gave birth to the International Anti-Militarist Association. Until the war the Association operated mainly in the Netherlands. After the war, national organisations were formed. They tried to combine personal pacifism and economic criticism of class structures. The Anti-Militarist Association met again in Congress in 1919, and defined its four central tenets: the rejection of personal constraints imposed by militarism, the rejection of all forms of violence, the rejection of the military acting as the ‘watch-dog of the state’, and rejection of the capitalist state.

At its third Congress, in 1921 the Association split. At the initiative of Quakers, four national non-violent anti-militarist organisations created their own international, initially called ‘Paco’ - Esperanto word for Peace - the declaration: War is a crime against humanity. I am therefore determined not to support any kind of war, and to strive for the removal of all causes of war and a broken rifle was adopted as the common symbol. In 1922 the name was changed to War Resisters International (WRI). Anarcho-syndicalist anti-militarism declined after 1921, and the Anti-Militarist Association disappeared in 1940. WRI expanded rapidly during the peace waves of the 1920s and 1930s, and in 1933 it was represented in 24 countries, concentrating on conscientious objection to military service.

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