resources: research and reports

November 2009

In their report on Children's Rights, the UK Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights recommended that the 'UK adopt a plan of action for implementing the Optional Protocol, including these recommendations, fully in the UK, together with a clear timetable for doing so.' The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child recommendations under the Optional Protocol were that the UK 'reconsider its active policy of recruitment of children into the armed forces' and a number of other measures.


In this report, the think-tank Ekklesia, argue that Remembrance Day needs to be re-imagined to make it more inclusive, more truthful and more meaningful for future generations, says this report. This would include an honest acknowledgement that some did “die in vain”, an end to “selective remembrance”, a positive stress on peacemaking, and making Armistice Day a bank holiday.

The report follows the death of the 'last Tommy', Harry Patch from World War 1, who sadly described current patterns of Remembrance Day as “just show business”.

October 2008

Tobias Pflüger, MEP

This publication gives a detailed overview of the right to conscientious objection in the countries of the European Union (including candidate countries), and as far as possible of practices regarding this right. It has become obvious that the situation regarding the right to conscientious objection within the European Union is not good. Most countries of the EU are far from conforming with the existing international standards: of the United Nations, the Council of Europe, or the European Parliament.

It looks at the situation country by county. For the UK it concludes that: 

  • The regulations governing the right to conscientious objection are not in the public domain, and information is difficult to obtain by members of the public, and also by members of the Armed Forces.
  • Decision making on an application for conscientious objection in the first instance is by the respective branch of the Armed Forces itself, and not by an independent body. Only the appeal body – the Advisory Committee on Conscientious Objectors – is an independent body.
May 2008

Report of Inquiry into the National Recognition of the Armed Forces published by the Labour Government in 2008. The report was concerned with measures to

increase the recognition that we give to our Armed Forces - including wearing uniforms in public, the idea of a national Armed Forces Day, greater support for homecoming parades, and an expansion of cadet forces, which we know bring benefit to the Armed Forces and young people alike...[involving] local authorities, voluntary bodies, the private sector and, above all, the people up and down the country who devote their time to running cadet units or military charities, or who need another way of expressing their appreciation for what our Armed Forces do for us.

It made forty recommendations for 'increasing visibility', 'improving contact', 'building understanding' and 'encouraging support' for the Armed Forces.

In October 2008 the Government response indicated how each measure identified in the Inquiry report would be addressed.

November 2007

An independent report by David Gee, published in 2007, highlighting the risks posed to young people through joining the military, how young people from disadvantaged communities are targeted, how information available to potential recruits is often misleading and how the terms of service are complicated, confusing and severely restricting. The research found that a large proportion join for negative reasons, including the lack of civilian career options.


Research from the UK and US about suicide and self-harm among those in the military and ex-military.

"The risk of suicide in men aged 24 y and younger who had left the Armed Forces was approximately two to three times higher than the risk for the same age groups in the general and serving populations"

"More U.S. military personnel have died by suicide since the war in Afghanistan began than have died fighting there."


In 2011, the Howard League for Penal Reform published the final report of the independent inquiry into former armed service personnel in prison.

From the report:

"At the present time the most accurate figure would seem to be the product of a joint quantitative study carried out by the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Justice. This asserts that approximately 2,820, or some 3.5 per cent of all those currently in custody in England and Wales, had served in the Forces.

"The study estimated that 77 per cent of ex-servicemen in prison served in the Army, 15 per cent in the Royal Navy and 8 per cent in the Royal Air Force. Furthermore, it estimated that 51 per cent of ex-servicemen in prison are over the age of 45 years and 29 per cent are over the age of 55, which compares to 9 per cent of the general prison population being aged 50 years or over. These statistics suggest that many ex-servicemen in prison have offended a considerable time after their date of discharge.

"Whatever the exact figures for ex-servicemen in prison, it is important to stress that all estimates indicate that ex-servicemen constitute a significant subset."

From the press release:

“While the numbers of ex-servicemen in prison appear stable, evidence from statistical surveys in both England and Wales and the United States show that ex-servicemen are more likely to be serving sentences for violent and sexual offences than the general prison population."