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 ?
In her new book, several chapters of which have not appeared in print before, Cecile Fabre makes original contributions to the just war theory tradition by drawing on moral cosmopolitanism.
They propose that combatants face ethical demands in the aftermath of war alongside those faced prior to and during the war, and therefore put forward four jets post bellum criteria to complement the traditional jus ad bellum and jus in bello criteria of the just war theory.
Margot Kassmann urges the decisive replacement of the just war theory by actions designed to promote just peace.
An honest, "strict constructionist" use of the just war theory challenges the conscience of war-makers.
But having made the case for a responsibility-heavy extended jus post bellum for just combatants, particularly in occupation scenarios, the question now is whether the very presence of criterion (5) in the just war theory sets up such a powerful countervailing requirement on just combatants that it confounds the concept of the "reasonable" to the point that we are uncertain as to exactly what it is that jus post bellum expects of just occupiers.
This article analyzes Israel's claim to self-defense and the actions it took in light of the just war theory, customary international law, and the U.
Modern weaponry and tactics have called into question some of the basic assumptions about the just war theory, and have even moved some in the church to reject the possibility of a justified war in today's world.
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.
Augustine's conditions form the basis of principles usually referred to as the Just War theory, by which Christians have sought to distinguish conflicts that are justified from those which are not.
How the Just War Theory applies to the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and past conflicts throughout history.
As for us, followers of the pacifist Jesus, the son of God, who did not write the just war theory, we must oppose military force, not because it doesn't work to solve problems, but because God has condemned killing.
He has published articles on the just war theory in Concilium (2001) and in the Encyclopedia of Religion and War (Routledge, forthcoming).