Ethics & International Affairs Volume 23.2 (Summer 2009): Special Section: Postwar Justice and the Responsibility to Rebuild (with Guest Editors Alexandra Gheciu and Jennifer Welsh): Moral Responsibilities and the Conflicting Demands of Jus Post Bellum

Jun 24, 2009

Recently, strong arguments have been offered for the inclusion of jus post bellum in just war theory. If this addition is indeed justified, it is plain that, due to the variety in types of post-conflict situation, the content of jus post bellum will necessarily vary. One instance when it looks as if it should become "extended" in its scope, ranging well beyond (for example) issues of "just peace terms," is when occupation of a defeated enemy is necessary.

In this situation, this article argues that an engagement by jus post bellum with the morality of post-conflict reconstruction is unavoidable. However, the resulting extension of jus post bellum's stipulations threatens to generate conflict with another tenet that it would surely wish to endorse with respect to "just occupation," namely, that sovereignty or self-determination should be restored to the occupied people as soon as is reasonably possible. Hence, the action-guiding objective of the theory could become significantly problematized. The article concludes by considering whether this problem supports the claim that the addition of jus post bellum to just war theory is actually more problematic than its supporters have realized.

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