Jus in bello: Key issues for a contemporary assessment of just behavior in war

Louis V Iasiello, Salve Regina University


Civilized humanity has long pondered the morality of war and the parameters of just behavior in war. Since ancient times philosophers, theologians, civic leaders, warriors, and jurists have formulated concepts and theories outlining the ethical boundaries of a justified use of force (jus ad bellum ) as well as for just behavior in war (jus in bello). Taken together, these principles define a bellum justum or just war. Just war theory, legal interpretation, and international law help to define the rationale for a just declaration of war and for just behavior of those tasked with conducting and fighting wars. This dissertation examines the relevance of just war theory for the 21st century, specifically, the relevance of jus in bello to contemporary issues and trends. Following a survey of major philosophies, strategies, and personalities that have significantly contributed to the development of just war theory, the author surveys contemporary scholars who have advanced this theory. The dissertation then examines some modern issues that challenge the application of jus in bello principles. These issues call for further study, both external (international law and ethics) and internal (military culture, law, traditions and strategy), in defining the parameters of just behavior in war. Such issues include modern military technology (i.e., precision guided munitions and cyberwarfare), the vulnerability of non-combatants, the ethical use of military contractors, and ecological concerns. This work concludes with suggestions for further scholarship and discussion regarding just war developments.

Subject Area

Philosophy|International law|International relations|Religion|Philosophy

Recommended Citation

Iasiello, Louis V, "Jus in bello: Key issues for a contemporary assessment of just behavior in war" (2003). Doctoral Dissertations. AAI3086861.