The Challenge of Human Rights

The Challenge of Human Rights

Past, Present and Future

Edited by David Keane and Yvonne McDermott

The Challenge of Human Rights takes a detailed and exploratory approach to topics across the field of human rights, and seeks to map a path for future research and policy development.

Chapter 3: The Universality of War: Jus ad Bellum and the Right to Peace in non-International Armed Conflicts

Kjell Anderson

Subjects: law - academic, human rights, law and society, politics and public policy, human rights


3. The universality of war: Jus ad bellum and the right to peace in noninternational armed conflicts Kjell Anderson* Much of the focus of the right to peace seems to be on the prohibition on aggressive war. Yet peace, understood as the absence of hostility, encompasses much more than the absence of aggressive war. In order for peace to be fully realized the threat of war must also be removed through measures such as arms control, confidence building, and mediation. International efforts to prohibit war have focussed on aggressive wars between states (the crime of aggression or ‘crimes against peace’ as it was dubbed at the Nuremberg Tribunal). Indeed, at Nuremberg all the crimes charged required a nexus with the waging of a war of aggression. This emphasis on international conflict stems from the state-centric model of international relations that has predominated for centuries. States had no interest in limiting power within their own domain – they only wanted to make the international environment (and perhaps their own power) more secure. However, most wars are now fought within states. Surely these wars, with their often dire humanitarian consequences, are a violation of the peoples’ right to peace. Both domestic law and international law recognize that there are situations where the use of violence may be legitimate. The right to self-defence is present in both domestic criminal law and international law. Moreover, in both the domestic and international spheres, it is recognized that legitimate authorities may use force. Thus, beyond self-defence, authorities...

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