Just War


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Just War

As widely used, a term referring to any war between states that meets generally accepted international criteria of justification. The concept of just war invokes both political and theological ideology, as it promotes a peaceful resolution and coexistence between states, and the use of force or the invocation of armed conflict only under certain circumstances. It is not the same as, but is often confused with, the term jihad or "holy war," a Muslim religious justification for war.

The principle of a just war emerged early in the development of scholarly writings on International Law. Under this view, a just war was a means of national Self-Help whereby a state attempted to enforce rights actually or allegedly based on international law. State practice from the eighteenth to the early part of the twentieth century generally rejected this distinction, however, as war became a legally permissible national policy to alter the existing rights of states, irrespective of the actual merits of the controversy.

Following World War I, diplomatic negotiations resulted in the General Treaty for the Renunciation of War, more commonly known as the Kellogg-Briand Pact, signed in 1928. The signatory nations renounced war as a means to resolve international disputes promising instead to use peaceful methods.

The aims of the Kellogg-Briand Pact were adopted in the Charter of the United Nations in 1945. Under the charter, the use or threat of force as an instrument of national policy was condemned, but nations were permitted to use force in individual or collective Self-Defense against an aggressor. The General Assembly of the United Nations has further defined aggression as armed force by a state against the sovereignty, territorial integrity, or political independence of another state, regardless of the reasons for the use of force. The Security Council is empowered to review the use of force, and therefore, to determine whether the relevant circumstances justify branding one nation as the aggressor and in violation of charter obligations. Under the modern view, a just war is one waged consistent with the Kellogg-Briand Pact and the Charter of the United Nations.

What has complicated the concept of just war in contemporary international relations is the emergence of "asymmetrical warfare." The term refers to conflict with parties or entities (such as international terrorist groups) who are neither officially connected with, nor owe allegiance to, any particular public authority or state. While these individuals or groups may be dependent upon clandestine assistance from states willing to help them secretly, they are not publicly responsible to them. Since contemplation of just war requires public authorities to act in their official capacities for the common good, that objective is frustrated by the lack of a discernible, clearly identifiable enemy state against which to act. As a result, the international community has attempted to unite in a common effort to declare war against Terrorism in general as "just."

Further readings

Johnson, James Turner. 2002. "Jihad and Just War." First Things 124.

Novak, Michael. 2003. "Asymmetrical Warfare & Just War." National Review online. Text of public lecture given on February 10 in Rome. Available online at <www.nationalreview.com/novak/novak021003.asp> (accessed August 13, 2003).

References in periodicals archive ?
Accompanying this recognition is the suspicion that these developments have finally rendered the just war tradition obsolete, irrelevant, impossible.
Knoll spoke out against "a cycle of human violence that must be stopped because there is no such thing as a just war.
And considering the regularity with which commentators on the ethics of war invoke just war doctrine as the basis for their views, the questions posed--and, more importantly, the questions not posed--by this classical doctrine warrant greater scrutiny and skepticism now than ever before.
By educating Catholics about the Church's position on war--popularly known as the just war doctrine--and publicizing contemporary peacemaking documents, Merton hoped American Catholics might develop political attitudes better informed by the teachings of the Church and the example of Christ.
But Gaudium et Spes called for a reevaluation of the just war theory, offered Catholicism's first recognition of pacifism as a legitimate Christian response in more than 1,600 years, and gave a nod to the notion of Catholic C.
Although the Just War concept is most strongly identified with the Catholic faith, its principles have been widely accepted throughout Christendom.
The three positions include pacifism, just war, and holy war (p.
It's possible that there is no lesson of World War II for America today except for the unpleasant one that for a vast, economically depressed industrial nation, a major, unquestionably just war fought entirely on foreign soil solves a lot of problems.
In a speech he gave in January 1991, he said, "The war in the Gulf is not a Christian war, a Jewish war, or a Muslim war--it is a just war.
Nor has President Bush exhausted all peaceful means to resolve the issue, as required by just war theo-ry.
bombing aimed at neutralizing Iraq's offensive forces will surely violate just war principles of proportionality and civilian immunity.
The previous article illustrated that the war on Afghanistan has not been carried out in harmony with the Just War concept of "war decision law," requiring that the proper public authority (in our case, the U.