Just War Principles - Summary

By Staff
Jul 1, 2006

Principles for Engaging in War

Just cause.

  • The cause of initiating war must be just.

Competent authority.

  • War cannot be initiated justly except by those who hold the proper authority and responsibility.

Comparative justice.

  • The moral merit on our side must clearly outweigh the moral merit on the other.

Right intention.

  • The intention of going to war must be to obtain or restore a just peace. Desires to punish or humiliate are not adequate intentions.

Last resort.

  • All non-violent alternatives must be exhausted before resorting to war.

Probability of success.

  • If the prospect of success is hopeless, war is not justified no matter how just the cause.

Proportionality of projected results.

  • The good expected must be greater than the estimation of anticipated costs.

Right spirit.

  • War should be regarded as a tragic necessity.

Principles for Conducting War

Proportionality in the use of force.

  • No action should be taken that generates more harm than good.

Discrimination.

  • A strong distinction must be maintained between combatants and non-combatants. Non-combatants must never be deliberate or primary targets of military action.

Avoidance of evil means.

  • No use of evil means (even for a just cause).

Good faith.

  • As much as possible, the enemy must be treated in good faith in order to keep open the possibility of reconciliation.

Just War Principles – PDF

Further Learning

Learn more about: Citizenship, Christian Citizenship, Church and State, Persecution, War,

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