Abstract

Abstract:

In 2002, the North American political theorist Michael Walzer announced the "triumph of just war theory," which he saw as evidence of moral progress. This paper challenges Walzer's progressive narrative by turning to the often-acrimonious debates about just and unjust wars during the drafting of the Additional Protocols to the Geneva Conventions. I show that during the International Committee of the Red Cross's "Diplomatic Conference on the Laws of War" (1974-77) it was the Third World and Soviet states that used the language of the "just war" to distinguish wars of national liberation from wars of "imperialist aggression"—particularly the US War in Vietnam. In stark contrast, the Western states, including the US, attacked the language of just war as a medieval licence to cruelty.

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Additional Information

ISSN
2151-4372
Print ISSN
2151-4364
Pages
pp. 313-341
Launched on MUSE
2019-01-09
Open Access
No
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