Just War Theory

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Just War theory plays a major role in the regulation of human warfare. Its guidelines give more structure to war and define what is just and what is unjust. Saint Thomas Aquinas, a theologian and philosopher, was the first to articulate these ideas and make abstract concepts more concrete. Also, Francisco de Vitoria produced a work entitled, ‘De Indis et de ivre belli’, questioning and criticizing the right of the Spanish to conquer the lands of native Americans, which also ties in with just war theory as it considers whether or not the colonization in this case was fair or just. The application of this concept to historical and contemporary situations often leads to a deeper understanding of what and why things happen in battle. To evaluate the usefulness of just war theory you’d have to consider warfare without it. If there were no ‘guidelines’ as such to explain concepts that dictated justice in entering warfare (jus add bellum), there would be many more wars. A war is deemed ‘just’ if it fits a criterion of a few key tenets. Firstly, that the waging of war is off the back of every possible alternate method of peaceful resolution being exhausted. If mediation or negotiation are ignored and battle is the chief intention from the outset a war is not considered just and should not be engaged in. Secondly, a ‘just’ war must have the backing of an authority that is able and permitted to sanction the call of warfare. A private person or a group with no legal entitlement would not be able to wage a just war as they do not have the right or the capacity to do so. Thirdly, a just war is one that is waged because the party waging it have suffered a wrong and are seeking to rectify the situation. If no harm has been done in the first place or if the intentions are not purely fuelled by the desire to remedy a wrong through the vengeful nature of warfare, the war

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