The 7 Rules of a Just War

War and Peace

Rules have been decided upon by Christian philosophers that create a just war.
Christians wonder whether all these rules should apply for a war to be just, or if only a few are necessary. The rules consist of the following:

1. Cause must be just

The actual reason for war must be good and should not be purely to exploit the enemy's territory or people. A reason classified as good include self-defence against a threat.

2. War must be called for by a competent authority

The war must be started and controlled by the state or its ruler , which is called the legitimate ruling authority. This rule crosses out many terrorist campaigns and civil wars.

3. Must involve comparative justice

The positive and negative aspects that would arise after the war must be looked at and considered. The good must outweigh the evil, which includes violence, destruction, suffering and death that may occur as a result.

4. Intention must be right

There must be no conditions that are unreasonable added to the original war aims. There should be no unconditional surrender, cession of territory or means of livelihood added.

5. Must be a last resort

All other ways of securing justice should have been attempted prior to the war. Therefore, war should only happen after things like negotiations, statements of intent and non-violent police actions,

6. Must be a probability of success

Once again, the consequences of the outcomes following the war need to be assessed. There has to be a good chance that the war will result in some form of success.

7. Must be proportionality between means and ends

The amount of force used should be no more than what is necessary to achieve justice and peace. Innocent people should not be harmed.


War and peace VCE Religion and Society class book

Engebreston,K, Duncan,B, Elliot,P, Rule,P. Rymarz,R, 2004, Catholic Ethical Thinking for Senior Secondary Students, James Goold House Publications, Melbourne.

By Tayla Paul