Outline the Key features of the Just War Theory

Topics: Laws of war, Just War, Jus ad bellum Pages: 2 (1189 words) Published: January 28, 2015
Natalie McNulty
Outline the Key features of the Just War Theory

The base of the Just War Theory starts with philosophers such as Aristotle and Cicero. Their first ideas of any war being ‘just’ involves the act of self-defence as the reason the war began. In their eyes, this reasoning made a war just. Ambrose of Milan and Augustine of Hippo developed this idea by coming up with a series of specifications for a war to be called ‘just’. They took this idea from the existing Roman ‘justum bellum’ and the Old Testament, where It has been said that God has consented to war or even commanded it. Aquinas further developed Ambrose’s theory, going more in depth to the reasoning behind it. Emperor Constantine elaborated on the theory and split it into three parts, after making it official law within the Roman Empire. The three parts that the Theory was split into are Jus Ad Bellum, Jus In Bello and Jus Post Bellum. Jus Ad Bellum is about justice in the decision to wage a war, Just in Bello is about justice in the conduct of war and Jus Post Bellum is whether there was justice within the ending of the war. Jus ad bellum is the most vital and important part of the theory. This is split into six categories: Just cause, legitimate authority, right intention, likelihood of success, proportionality and last resort. ‘Just cause’ is about whether the start of the war was correct, for example, if it was started in self defence or in the defence of others it would be ‘just’. Legitimate authority means that the war must be fought by a recognised legal authority, for example, a voted government or a monarchy. This therefore automatically excludes civil wars from being ‘just’. The next category is ‘Right intention’, this asks whether the intention of war was to protect others or yourself, or whether it was to cause destruction to anyone or anything. If the intention was good, or to self defend, then the intention was right. An example of when intentions were questionable...
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