Just War

The 5 Rules


St Augustine wrote two criteria for just war, but Aquinas is credited for writting them clearly and adding the philiosephy. He also contributed the 3rd criteria, 'right attention'. Other christian philosphers debated new criteria over the next 500 years and, eventually, five rules were agreed.

Christians are divided as to whether all five rules have to be in place for a war to be called 'just' or whether just one or two will do. Below is the list:

"When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace."


The war must be started and controlled by the state and/or its ruler (eg. a King). This is also known as the 'ligitimate ruling authority'. An example of this is if the UK were to go to war with another country, it must be the government that decides as it is the 'ligitimate ruling authority.'


There must be a just cause (reason) with a chance of winning (eg. war in defence of aggression and attack). In World War II, the Allies decided the cause was just, and defended countries from Germans attack. Some Christians do not think that the Gulf War was just. They claim it was less to do with defence and more to do with oil rights.

"We who have seen WAR, never STOP seeing it."


War must be a last resort after all other options have been exhausted, and have a good chance of success. In World War II, the Allies believed they had tried all means of negotiation and had been duped. In the Gulf War, some Christians believe that not enough mediation was tried.


War must be to promote good and overcome evil. Peace and Justice must be restored quickly. In world War II, the Allies believed that Hitler himself was evil, aiming for a super race. In the Gulf War, most of the Allies believed Saddam Hussein to be evil but realised that the Iraq people were suffering, especially when used as human shields in military sites.

"War does not determine who is right... only who is left."


Proportionality- only enough force should be used as is absolutely neccessary to achieve peace. Innocent civilians should not be attacked. In World War I, this aim on the whole was upheld, but by World War II civilians were targeted and whole cities bombed. In the Gulf War, the use of laser-guided missiles and bombs should have resulted in only military units beng bombed. Hussein rounded up civilians and locked them in these bases, and warned the coalition forces what he was going to do.

An examaple of when these 5 rules have been put into effect

Five Rules for Going to War