Just War

(redirected from Unjust Aggressor)

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 ?
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the death penalty is allowed if it is "the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.
The essay argues that even the clearest case of a defensive war against an unjust aggressor would prohibit going to war if the war was waged with AWS.
The defense of the common good requires that an unjust aggressor be rendered unable to cause harm.
In Syria and Iraq, particularly, terrorist violence shows no signs of abating,'' the pope said, adding: "In reaffirming that it is licit, while always respecting the international law, to stop an unjust aggressor, I wish to reiterate, moreover, that the problem cannot be resolved solely through a military response.
In paragraph 2267 the death penalty is then discussed; however, it is not justified as "an option for the punishment of heinous crimes," as Murphy-Gill writes, but just "if this is the only way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.
Malevoran is an unjust aggressor, which does not follow the requirements of the prevailing morality of warfare.
On the traditional account of self-defense, the Unjust Aggressor requirement disallows the use of force against a Justified Aggressor (for example, a policeman making a lawful arrest), but crucially it allows force against an Innocent Aggressor (for example, the insane), whose attack is not justified but is excused, and who is thus also classified as an "Unjust Aggressor" along with the Culpable Aggressor.
In civil wars, where significant numbers of belligerent citizens align themselves under warring banners, with substantial territories and competent leadership on both sides, it often becomes difficult to discern with finality who is the unjust aggressor and who the just defender.
22) If such is the case, then even being an unjust aggressor would not cause one to forfeit one's right to life or liberty.
The category of a materially unjust aggressor reveals that it is legitimate for us to stop the aggression with lethal force, while recognizing that it morally inappropriate to blame the aggressor.
He holds that "Christians [Catholics] have a right and even a duty to protect their existence and freedom by proportionate means against an unjust aggressor.
In the argument's crude form, one twin is seen as being an unjust aggressor against the other, dragging the other down to death with it because of its dependency on the single heart.