is a Swiss
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....
institution, created in 1996 as an alternative to military service
Switzerland has mandatory military service for all able-bodied male citizens, who are conscripted when they reach the age of majority, though women may volunteer for any position....
Any man who is unable to do compulsory military service for reasons of conscience
A conscientious objector is an "individual who has claimed the right to refuse to perform military service" on the grounds of freedom of thought, conscience, and/or religion....
can submit an application to be allowed to do substitute civilian service instead. The applicant is then forced to attend a hearing where he is to explain his reasons for refusal. After this hearing, the application is approved should the applicant be found to be unable to be a member of a military service due to the demands of his conscience. In most cases (85-90%), assignment to the civilian service is granted. If one is unfit to serve in the military because of physical or psychological impairments, he is also deemed unfit for civilian service, even if the impairments do not render the individual unable to fulfill a specific task related to the civilian service. This is true, for example, for a disabled
A disability may be physical, cognitive, mental, sensory, emotional, developmental or some combination of these.Many people would rather be referred to as a person with a disability instead of handicapped...
person in a wheelchair who is perfectly able to work in the administration of a nursing home
A nursing home, convalescent home, skilled nursing unit , care home, rest home, or old people's home provides a type of care of residents: it is a place of residence for people who require constant nursing care and have significant deficiencies with activities of daily living...
. Unless they have a very severe handicap, men excused or declared unfit to serve in the military are forced to pay a substitute fee of about 3% of their yearly income until the age of 42, when military service men are normally released from further service.
In 2005, the Swiss parliament (see Swiss politics
The politics of Switzerland take place in the framework of a multi-party federal parliamentary democratic republic, whereby the Federal Council of Switzerland is the head of government. Executive power is exercised by the government and the federal administration and is not concentrated in any one...
) began to discuss if the "state of conscience hearings" should be abolished and if the willingness to serve a longer time (see below) should be the only criteria, citing the large administrative costs for judging the cases of just a few thousand applicants per year.
Once part of the civilian service program, one has to work 50% longer than the total normal cumulative military service period. Full cumulative military service for normal soldiers is currently 260 days, while full civilian service is 390 days. Many non-profit organization
Nonprofit organization is neither a legal nor technical definition but generally refers to an organization that uses surplus revenues to achieve its goals, rather than distributing them as profit or dividends...
s are licensed to employ civilian service workers. Unlike the Civilian Service in Germany, where the servants do their work mainly in hospitals and healthcare sites, Swiss ones can apply for work in a broad variety of opportunities:
- health care
- environmental protection
- agriculture (small or alpine farms)
- research projects
- development assistance abroad
Civilian service men must have the appropriate skills for each type of assignment - for example, because there are only very few job vacancies in development aid.
A big difference between civilian and military service is that civilian service participant can greatly profit from his substitute service - in terms of work experience - to achieve a better position after the service, although it is formally not allowed to do civilian service with, for example, the goal of passing an exam in mind. So, during civilian service in a research institute one must not write personal academic papers to be submitted at a later time.
There are still issues with how to handle Swiss living abroad who have already passed recruitment and are already members of the Swiss militia army. In this case they are not exempt from military service or civilian service, and every step of the application process requires their presence in Switzerland.
, , Vollzugsstelle für den Zivildienst ZIVI
, official government website., , Beratungsstelle für Zivildienst und Militärverweigerung
, association offering assistance for those seeking to enter the Swiss Civilian Service or bypass conscription., Gemeinschaft Schweizer Zivildienstleistender
, association for promotion of Swiss Civilian Service.