Logo law and pluralism
Logo Università Bicocca

Bayatyan v. Armenia, No. 23459/03, ECtHR (Grand Chamber), 7 July 2011


Art. 9 ECHR and conscientious objection to military service in Armenia. Absence of alternative civilian service and breach of Art. 9 ECHR.    

Normative references

Art. 9 ECHR 
Art. 4 ECHR 


1. Although Art. 9 ECHR does not mention the right to conscientious objection explicitly, a serious and insurmountable conflict between the obligation to serve in the army and a sincerely and deeply held religious belief, or the presence of non-religious convictions of sufficient cogency, seriousness, consistency and importance attracts the fundamental guarantees of Art. 9 ECHR.

2. The absence of the possibility of carrying out an alternative civilian service to the military conscription amounts to a violation of Art. 9 ECHR.
(The conviction of the applicant, an Armenian citizen and a Jehovah’s Witness, is unlawful. He refused to perform the military service and asked to be registered as a conscientious objector for religious reasons, declaring to be available to perform an alternative civilian service).


This Grand Chamber judgment is a key-case overruling the previous case-law of the Commission, according to which conscientious objection to military service fell outside the application of Art. 9 ECHR and within the scope of Art. 4 ECHR. See in this Observatory Grandrath v. Germany, dec., No. 2299/64, ECommHR (Plenary), 12 December 1966 and the related cases.