Just War

(redirected from The Just War Theory)

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).

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Books authored by Swanson include "War Is a Lie," a catalogue of types of falsehoods regularly told about wars; "War Is Never Just," a refutation of the just war theory; and "When the World Outlawed War," an account of the 1920's peace movement and the creation of the Kellogg-Briand Peace Pact that outlawed war.
The three major divisions in the ethics of war are: the realist, the pacifist and the just war theory. The realists believe that war is essential to preserve the morals and ethics of a society.
human beings are caught up in violent communal conflict, their adherence to the just war theory can render them less likely to fight in accord with the demands of justice than would otherwise be the case." He continues, writing that "this deficiency is not merely a contingent fact about the uses to which some bad actors happen to put the just war theory.
The wars in the Philippines, Vietnam, and Iraq were different from other wars because none of those countries even came close to posing a great threat to the US, he argues, and because they violated the "last resort" principle of the just war theory, which he traces back to Saint Augustine of Hippo.
People who are very skeptical of the just war theory would say that the church went to bed with the state and sold out on Jesus.
Augustine is often credited with developing the just war theory After centuries of pacifism, Christians found themselves as the majority religion in the Roman Empire at a time when it was being besieged by Teutonic tribes pillaging their way south into the Italian peninsula.
We have called evil good--because of the Just War Theory. Anyone who has endured the ardors and obscenities of combat should see through the immorality.
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. A.
The phrase "just peace", however, is also a reminder that for much of its history, Western Christendom has adhered to what has become known as the just war theory. Margot Kassmann urges the decisive replacement of the just war theory by actions designed to promote just peace.
The Just War Theory idea of "proportionality," the authors point out, is responsible for the ever more stringent rules of engagement that compel American troops to risk their lives in order to ensure the safety of enemy civilians and terrorists.
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.