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The Blurry Boundaries Between War and Peace: Do We Need to Extend Just War Theory?

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Saint Augustine, being seen as one of the first just war theorists, famously stated that the true object of war is peace. 1 And while just war theory is often said to be the leading position on the morality of war, today, it is struggling to keep up with the changing international reality. It is premised upon a certain conception of war – as armed conflict between two states – and on a clear demarcation line between the situation of war and the situation of peace. This however, seems to no longer fit the political reality. More often than not, we find ourselves in a grey area. This 'new' political reality, the changed character of war(fare), and the often blurry boundaries between war and peace, pose serious challenges to just war theory. This paper analyzes one solution: an extension of the bipartite conception of the theory. A branch called jus ante bellum, preventive peacemaking, is sometimes suggested to precede jus ad bellum. And jus post bellum, justice after the war, is the welcomed branch that could provide post war guidance. This paper explores what it means to adopt these branches. What does it bring us to extend the theory? It is presumed that it would benefit the goal of just war theory, that Augustine already pointed at: limiting war and realizing a 'just and durable peace'. But is an extension really a good idea? There are several reasons why we should be careful to regard these arguably important issues within the parameters of just war theory.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 2016

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  • Archiv für Rechts- und Sozialphilosophie, edited by authorisation of the International Association for Philosophy of Law and Social Philosophy (IVR), is an international, peer-reviewed journal, first published in 1907. It features original articles on philosophical research on legal and social questions, covering all aspects of social and legal life.
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