Community service

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Outpatient care for the elderly by a person doing community service in Munich, 1996

The alternative service is the most common form of the weir alternative service or military service denial. The conscientious objector rejects from conscientious objection to military service with the gun, and making instead to community service. Strictly speaking, this fulfills the criteria of forced labor. As a military alternative service, civilian service is exempt from the ban on forced labor under the European Convention on Human Rights . Official and slang terms:

  • Civilian service provider: official designation in Austria for persons obliged to perform civilian service who are assigned to a recognized institution for the performance of regular civilian service with notification and official designation in Switzerland
  • Civil service conscripts: official designation in Austria for (formerly) conscripts who have submitted a non-defective civil service declaration and other official designations in Switzerland
  • Civil servant: frequently used term in Austria
  • Zivi: Slang term in Austria and Switzerland


Denmark was the first country to introduce alternative military service in 1917, which was used for social tasks; Countries like Sweden and the Netherlands in 1920, Norway in 1921 and Finland in 1931 followed shortly afterwards .


Duration in months of general military service and community service in European countries
country   Basic military service     Community service  
Austria 6th 9
Switzerland 8.5
(260 days)
(390 days)
Finland 6th
(362 days)
Greece   12 15th
Russia 12 21st

Community service in Europe


Austrian civil service badge from 1982

In Austria , military service has been refused for reasons of conscience since 1975. Civilian service usually includes activities in a social environment, such as in the rescue service , social and handicapped assistance, care for the elderly, in hospitals , in the fire brigade , in agriculture or in road traffic as school policemen . Ordinary community service lasts nine months, and more than 40% of capable men of a given year (13,466 in 2018) do their compulsory service as alternative military service, although the number has been falling since 2015. In addition to "ordinary civilian service", an "extraordinary civilian service" is possible in times of crisis, to which civilian service providers can be obliged again after they have completed their service. In 2020, it was used for the first time in the history of community service in Austria to ensure medical care during the coronavirus pandemic . The following voluntary services are recognized as a substitute for community service:


In Switzerland, the constitution has provided for alternative civilian service instead of military service since 1992 . The test of conscience was abolished in 2009, since then every Swiss citizen has been able to switch to civilian service without any hurdles. Civilian service lasts 1.5 times the remaining military service (currently a total of 260 days), i.e. a maximum of 390 days. It is carried out primarily in the health and social sector as well as in the environmental sector . In addition, foreign assignments in development cooperation are possible. The deployments are selected and agreed independently, and the civil service enforcement agency then draws up the list.


In Finland, community service lasts 12 months, while military service lasts only six months. The right to conscientious objection was first established in 1931, but is still limited to peacetime today. When the Civil Service Act was introduced in 1987, civil service lasted 16 months, but this led to many total objectors. The period of service was reduced to 13 months in 1992, since 2008 the period of service has been 12 months. The application for conscientious objection is approved unchecked. The number of objectors quadrupled in the 1990s to 2,500 and the community service system still faces the problem that there are too few places for those who refuse to attend.


In Russia there has been the possibility of doing community service since 2004. This lasts 21 months. However, because of the poor working conditions and the long duration, few Russians decide against military service. In the spring of 2005 only 346 of around 170,000 conscripts registered for community service and the numbers are said to be falling. In Russia there is general compulsory military service of 12 months for men aged 18 to a maximum of 27 years of age.

Countries with abolished or suspended community service


In Germany, gun service could be refused for reasons of conscience. Until 2010, the right to conscientious objection had to be applied for, stating the reasons for conscience. If the application was accepted, which has been the rule since the 1980s, one had to do community service as a substitute for military service. This alternative service initially lasted up to 20 months, mostly longer than the basic military service, as the reserve exercises for those doing military service were omitted; Before the suspension of compulsory military service, the civil service lasted just 6 months. Community service providers were usually used for activities in the social sector, such as in hospitals, youth centers, old people's homes, in the rescue service or ambulance transport as well as in care for the disabled. They provided care and driving services as well as care. Until 2010, many 10,000 men refused to do military service each year. The number increased significantly over the decades. While this was just under 12,000 in 1968, the number of conscientious objectors in 1990 was 74,569. The annual average was 62,000 men until 2010. Because of the suspension of military service on July 1, 2011, from October 2010 people doing civil service were only called up at their own request. This voluntary type of call-up was only possible until July 1, 2011, so that the last civilian service ended on December 31, 2011, even if the service was voluntarily longer. As a replacement for the suspended community service, the Federal Volunteer Service (BFD) was introduced in 2011 , which supplements all existing voluntary services .


In Italy , the Servizio civile (German: Zivildienst) was introduced in 1972. The civil service time was eight months longer than the military service according to the legal regulation at the time. This and the strict examination of the reasons of conscience put forward meant that the number of conscientious objectors was at a very low level. In 1989 the Italian Constitutional Court declared certain parts of the previous legal regulation to be unconstitutional. In the years that followed, the number of people doing civil service skyrocketed and eventually exceeded that of people doing military service. In 1998, after a long discussion, a more up-to-date law on civilian service came into force, which also took into account the now generally recognized performance of those doing civilian service for society. In 2005, compulsory military service (and thus also compulsory alternative service ) was suspended in Italy and at the same time the option was introduced for men and women to do a year of voluntary military service in the Italian army . The Italian Civil Service Office also offers a one-year voluntary civil service, which can also be carried out abroad if there is particular need. Young men and women between the ages of 18 and 28 can apply for community service. In 2009 two thirds of those doing community service were women. As a rule, no more than 50,000 positions are available each year.


In Sweden there were in the 1920s-weapon-free services. From 1995 there was the so-called Totalförsvarsplikt , which included both weapon-free services (Civilplikt) and armed services (Värnplikt) . One had the right to perform a weapon-free service if one was convinced that one could not use a weapon against another person. The subsequent assignment to civil plict (civil duty) did not necessarily mean a social service, but could also mean training in maintaining the infrastructure (water, electricity, etc.) in the event of war, i.e. H. operational and repair activities.

In the past, the gun-free services were therefore u. a. carried out at the rescue service, airport fire brigades and the railway. Before compulsory military service and community service were suspended, there were only three civil plikt training courses, all of which took place at Svenska Kraftnät , the operator of the Swedish electricity network.

In reality, community service only played a subordinate role in Sweden. For reasons of cost alone, not all men were called up for drafts, whereby the selection was made after a pre-test in which the motivation for military service was also asked. More than 90% of those called up for drafting have expressed an interest in military service and were therefore generally not candidates for weapon-free service. The application for a weapon-free service was therefore often not even necessary.

Only around a quarter of those who were drafted were finally called up for military service, of which only a fraction opted for gun-free service. In 2006, of 41,720 drafted men, 10,990 men were drafted into military service and 133 into unarmed service. In 2010, Sweden became the first neutral country to abolish compulsory military service and civil service.

See also

Web links

Individual evidence

  2. Ersatzdienst-in-griechenland-um-zwei-monate-gekuerzt/2303 /
  3. Federal Ministry of the Interior: 35 years of community service in Austria (last accessed on December 2, 2015)
  4. Interest in community service is declining. In: February 8, 2019, accessed August 1, 2019 .
  8. ^ Volkshilfe Wien: Voluntary social year at Volkshilfe Wien ( Memento from November 7, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) (last accessed on November 8, 2016)
  9. Solution of factual evidence from April 1, 2009 ( Memento from February 4, 2017 in the Internet Archive )
  10. Kira Frenk: "A little shorter would not be bad" ( Memento from October 16, 2007 in the web archive ) In: Moskauer Deutsche Zeitung (MDZ), September 23, 2005. (last accessed on March 22, 2007)
  11. DW World (Ed.): Community service in Russia: No real alternative (last accessed on March 22, 2007)
  13. July 1: Federal Voluntary Service replaces civilian service on, accessed on December 3, 2015
  15. ^ Italian Civil Service Office