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Conditions for a Just War

‘Just War Theory’ is a

doctrine

, also referred to as a

tradition

, of military ethics studied by military leaders, theologians, ethicists and policy makers. The criteria are split into two groups: “right to go to war” and “right conduct in war”. Here, we shall focus on the first.

A Just War is one which has to be fought but is conducted according to certain conditions. The theory is not intended to justify all wars but to prevent them by showing that going to war – except in certain limited circumstances – is wrong. The intention was to motivate states to find other ways of resolving conflicts, prevent war and to limit its effects i.e. to avoid warfare.

The conditions of a Just War are:

• It must be agreed by a legal recognised authority e.g. a government and/or international body such as the United Nations (UN), NATO or the GCC etc.

• The cause of the war must be

just

and with

good reason

;NOT for land or resources.

• The war must be fought with the intention to establish good or correct an evil done.

• There must be a reasonable

chance of success

i.e. the ability to win any given war.

• The war must be a

last resort

, after all diplomatic negotiations have been tried/failed.

• Only

sufficient force

should be used; civilians mustn’t be involved wherever possible.

Some wars can appear to meet all

of these conditions, while some do not.

Essay task:

Choose a war/battle/conflict and decide whether the reasons for it were justifiable or not, according to Just War Theory.

Essay title:

Just War Theory applied to (name of war/battle/conflict)

Conditions for a Just War
‘Just War Theory’ is a doctrine, also referred to as a tradition, of military ethics studied by
military leaders, theologians, ethicists and policy makers. The criteria are split into two
groups: “right to go to war” and “right conduct in war”. Here, we shall focus on the first.
A Just War is one which has to be fought but is conducted according to certain conditions.
The theory is not intended to justify all wars but to prevent them by showing that going to war
– except in certain limited circumstances – is wrong. The intention was to motivate states to
find other ways of resolving conflicts, prevent war and to limit its effects i.e. to avoid warfare.
The conditions of a Just War are:
•
It must be agreed by a legal recognised authority e.g. a government and/or international
body such as the United Nations (UN), NATO or the GCC etc.
•
The cause of the war must be just and with good reason; NOT for land or resources.
•
The war must be fought with the intention to establish good or correct an evil done.
•
There must be a reasonable chance of success i.e. the ability to win any given war.
•
The war must be a last resort, after all diplomatic negotiations have been tried/failed.
•
Only sufficient force should be used; civilians mustn’t be involved wherever possible.
Some wars can appear to meet all of these conditions, while some do not.
Essay task:
Choose a war/battle/conflict and decide whether the reasons for it were justifiable or
not, according to Just War Theory.
Essay title:
Just War Theory applied to (name of war/battle/conflict)

No word limit – write as much as you can in the time given.
You must include footnotes and a bibliography
Email to your course tutor by 1630. Late essays will not be accepted.
Please remember that we report on your performance to ACSC.
Good luck!

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