5 Rules Of A Just War

By Belinda Owen

what is a just a just war?

The five rules of a just war are a criteria for assessing whether a government’s resources to force is morally justified. It can be expressed in many forms in the codes of conduct of military forces, international law, in moral philosophy and theology and in the church teachings.

the theory of the conditions for a just war was first formulated by St Augustine which he held that the common good had to be defended. Augustine worked with philosipher Cicero and a Roman lawyer to establish the rules. the rules must be fought for the common good and not the good for an individual, fought for just aims and in a just and honourable way.

Rules for a just war

1. War must be started and controlled by the state and/or its ruler e.g. kind this is also called the ‘legitimate ruling authority’. This condition appears to rule out most civil wars and terrorist campaigns because the ruling authority may be in question or because there are no process for determining the peoples will regard the war.

2. There must be a just cause (reason) with a chance of winning. The reasons for going to war must be good in themselves. They must not be conquest for the sake of exploiting the enemy’s territory or people, but self-defence against a real and present threat.

3. War must be a last resort after all other options have been exhausted and have a good chance of success. All means of securing justice, short of war, should have been exhausted

4. War must be to promote good and overcome evil. Pease and justice must be restored quickly

5. Proportionality – only enough force should be used as is absolutely necessary to achieve peace. Innocent civilians should not be attacked.


http://www.philosophicalsociety.com/Archives/Theories%20Of%20A%20Just%20War.htm 26.6.13

www.keanxchange.com 28. 8.13

Kengebertson, catholic ethical thinking for senior secondary students, Melbourne, Australia, 2004