Just War Theory
This theory dates back to St Augustine who had to persuade the pacifist Christian tradition in Roman times that war can sometimes be necessary. St Aquinas and other theologians later developed this theory. There are three parts to this ethical theory JUS AD BELLUM –rules set out for going to war, JUS IN BELLO – rules set out for being in war and JUS POST BELLO – the nature of how a war is ended.
So what are the Jus Ad Bellum Conditions?
- Just cause – in order for a war to be declared there must be a just cause. But who is to judge what is a just cause?
- Right intention – It is linked with the part of Natural Law that states that intention is really important. Ulterior motives such as acquiring land or protecting oneself should not be intended. But how can you test/measure intention?
Proportionality – The damage caused by the war should not exceed the good expected to come out. How are you supposed to predict this?
- Declaration by a legitimate authority – This principle is linked with this quote from the Bible “Obey the powers that be for they are ordained by God” Romans 13:1-2. Some like Wilcockson say that this principle has been overlooked so that terrorists now have rights of this nature.
- Last resort – Every other must have been used before going to war e.g. peaceful negotiations. If an authority has already decided this is what they want to do is there any point in negotiations?
- Formal declaration of war – Some countries do not recognise the UN rules for going to war and they may not recognise this principle. We have seen some of the most horrific example of when this rule has been violated e.g. Pearl Harbour
- Reason chance of success – There should be a relative chance of success but if one knows they don’t have a chance of success they may feel ashamed in declaring it.
Then what are the Jus In Bello conditions?
There are two conditions according to Just War Theory for how we should behave in war. Jus In Bello requires agents of war to be responsible for their actions.
- Principle of discrimination – innocent people or ‘non- combatants’ should not be directly or directly attacked according to the Geneva Convention. Is this really possible?
- Principle of proportionality – Minimum force should be used to achieve good and just like with proportionality before the damage caused should not outweigh the good. With nuclear weapons is this really possible?
And what about Jus Post Bello then?
This is a fairy new addition to the Just War Theory. This concerns the aftermath of war and restoring peace and fairness.
Restoring human rights – bringing back the equality and rights that everyone has.
- Distinguishing between innocent civilians and those who should be punished
- Bringing to trial war criminals and ensuring they receive justice
- Giving the defeated country the opportunity to reform.