In response to contemporary forms of armed conflict, including genocidal civil wars and global terrorism, this book engages in a project of rethinking or revising just war principles. A main thesis is that received just war principles should be generalised, so that they are applicable by all sorts of responsible agents to all forms of armed conflict. Consequently, they would be applicable not only to interstate wars but also to civil wars, armed humanitarian interventions, armed revolutions, counterinsurgency operations, counterterrorism operations, military operations by UN peacekeeping missions, and so forth. Another main thesis is that the just cause, last resort, proportionality, and noncombatant immunity principles are the ‘core just war principles’. Roughly, each core just war principle is a necessary moral criterion for determining whether a proposed military action would be just. This introductory chapter cites five epochal events that have been pivotal for just war theory – namely, the framing of the UN Charter and the founding of the United Nations, the Cold War practise of military deterrence, the post-Cold War recognition of the responsibility to protect, the advent of the US global war on terror, and a cluster of recent targeted military operations.
Keywords: core just war principles, deterrence, generalising just war principles, global war on terror, responsibility to protect, revising just war principles, targeted military operations, UN Charter
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