International Humanitarian Law: Just war theories


The first limitation on interstate use of force was just war theories. It has existed since ancient times but was mainly developed in middle age by the Christian church. They were mainly in relation to religious wars such as crusades. According to such theories, in so far as the war was just, it was legal. According to Thomas Aquinas, a Christian thinker, war was just when it was authorized by lawful authority, it intended to achieve a just outcome and its ultimate aim was to restore peace. Therefore, theoretically, it was possible to distinguish between just belligerent and unjust belligerent. Just belligerent is the one whose cause for resorting to war was just whereas unjust belligerent is whose cause was unjust. Thinkers favored the view that just belligerent should be privileged to the extent that it should not be subjected to all constraints under the Jus in Bello. The unjust belligerent was to bear the constraints of the law. But it was difficult for warring states to agree as to whose cause is just or unjust. It is still valid today.


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