Sweden reintroduced conscription in 2017 with effect from January 1st 2018 (previously suspended in 2010) and extended it to women.

Highly selective conscription: most persons serving the military service are volunteers.

Conscientious objection:


First recognised by Alternative Service Schemes Act, 21st May.








At present there are no military services as a conscientious objector and the civil conscription in not activated, meaning that in practical terms the individual will not do any service.

Persons that have applied for unarmed status can be called for civil defence training later on, if/once the circumstances for the civil defence changes.





The obligation to perform conscription into the Armed Forces applies for Swedish citizens from the calendar year he or she turns nineteen.

All inhabitants between 16 - 70 years old are obliged to participate in national defence in case of emergency or war.

Voluntary enlistment:


An officer or a professional soldier has a contract and therefore has the possibility to discharge or leaving for any reasons.


https://ebco-beoc.org/sweden including the reply of the Swedish Institute for Human Rights to the Questionnaire about EBCO’s Annual Report 2022 (e-mail on 25/01/2023).

According to the reply of Svenska Freds about EBCO’s Annual Report 2022 (e-mail on 10/02/2023):

“The conscription law remains the same, meaning that citizens turning 18 are obliged to provide the Swedish Defense Recruitment Agency (Plikt- och prövningsverket) with information as well as muster and undergo military training if called to do so[1]. In 2022, 5583 individuals were enrolled, out of which 84% were called in accordance with the conscription law, while 16% applied for enrollment themselves[2].

According to the Swedish Defense Recruitment Agency, 161 conscripts have been reported to the prosecutor’s office for breaking the general law of compulsory military service in 2022. The reason for this was invalid absence from the muster, i.e. military selection tryouts[3]. In a survey conducted by the Swedish Defence Recruitment Agency, only 53% of the respondents were aware that attending the muster if called is mandatory[4].

Furthermore, the Swedish Defense Recruitment Agency reports that 71 conscripts applied for weapon free status in 2022. 69 out of 71 applications were approved and two were rejected. Additionally, 36 individuals who had completed their military service and received a war-time placement applied for weapon free status in 2022. Out of these, 33 were approved, two were rejected, and one was written off[5]. In total, the Swedish Defense Recruitment Agency received 107 applications for weapon free status in 2022, compared to 45 in 2021.

Those who receive weapon free status can be called for civil conscription, meaning that they can be placed within the civil defense[6]. The civil conscription has not been active since 2010, so as of right now there is no training within the civil defense. However, during 2022 there has been increased talks on the need for civil conscription and in the beginning of 2023, the Swedish government announced that they are planning on reactivating the civil conscription. The Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (Myndigheten för samhällsskydd och beredskap) has been tasked with preparing reactivating the civil conscription in the municipal rescue service[7].

Currently, approximately 5000-6000 youths are undergoing military service each year. According to the current defense decision, the number of youths called for conscription will increase to 8000 by 2025. However, there is political unity that 8000 conscripts each year is not enough as both the previous and current government have expressed that more youths should be prepared to do military service. For example, the new government has argued that 8 000 is insufficient, and has altered the goal to increase the number called for conscription each year to 10000 individuals for between 2030-2035[8]. Ever since compulsory military service was reactivated in 2017, a person’s motivation to undergo military service has been taken into consideration. However, one of the reasons to why military conscription was reactivated had to do with the fact that the Swedish Armed Forces (Försvarsmakten) could not cover the personnel need for the defense by voluntary recruits[9], i.e youths’ interest to undergo military training was too low. When the numbers called for military service will increase in the coming years, there is a higher risk that youths that do not want to undergo military training will be forced to do so by law. The Swedish Defence Recruitment Agency has already expressed that they will have to call more unmotivated youth to meet the goal of 8000 conscripts. Also, the Swedish Armed Forces (Försvarsmakten) announced in early 2023 that more unmotivated youths will be called to military service[10]. Swedish Peace and Arbitration Society (SPAS) takes this very seriously and continues to stand up for the right to refuse participation in the military system.

Media coverage of conscientious objectors has continuously been low through 2022. There have been a few reports of conscripts risking being punished with fines or prison up to a year, for example, a man in his twenties who did not attend the military service[11].

The domestic security political debate is increasingly militarized, and intensified after Russia’s horrific and unlawful invasion of Ukraine and in relation to the submission of the Swedish Nato application. Regarding a Swedish Nato membership, the implications for conscripts are unclear. The government has appointed an investigation aiming to review the legislation, in order to determine to what extent it is possible to send conscripts abroad. Currently, the law states that conscripts are to be used to defend Sweden. The Minister of Defence has referred to this as a question of definition, while ensuring that voluntariness will continuously play an important part for conscripts in this issue[12]. SPAS has urged the investigation examining the issue to determine that conscripts will not be sent to fight in Nato’s wars[13]. During 2022, SPAS has received an increased number of questions regarding conscription and weapon free status, and from people who are worried how a potential Swedish Nato membership will affect them.”


[1] The law of conscription, Lagen (1994:1809) om totalförsvarsplikt. https://rkrattsbaser.gov.se/sfst?bet=1994:1809

[2] The Swedish Defense Recruitment Agency (Plikt- och prövningsverket), Mönstring och prövning till grundutbildningsomgång 2022/23, 2021/0856:3

[3] The Swedish Defense Recruitment Agency (Plikt- och prövningsverket), E-mail contact

[4] The Swedish Defense Recruitment Agency (Plikt- och prövningsverket), Mönstring och prövning till grundutbildningsomgång 2022/23, 2021/0856:3

[5] The Swedish Defense Recruitment Agency (Plikt- och prövningsverket), E-mail contact

[6] The Swedish Defense Recruitment Agency (Plikt- och prövningsverket) https://pliktverket.se/monstring-och-varnplikt/monstring/att-vara-vapenfri

[9] Governmental investigation on personnel supply for the military defense (2016). https://www.regeringen.se/rattsliga-dokument/statens-offentliga-utredningar/2016/09/201663/