Perpetual Peace: Kant’s Rules for Warfare in the Contemporary World
Published in Perpetual Peace: Re-Drafting Kant’s 1795 Essay for the Contemporary World. Eds. Rosi Braidotti & Gregg Lambert. Also found at: Redrafting Perpetual Peace, Center for the Humanities, Utrecht University, Forthcoming
8 Pages Posted: 2 Feb 2015
Date Written: January 30, 2015
According to Kant, “some confidence in the character of the enemy must remain even in the midst of war, as otherwise no peace could be concluded and the hostilities would degenerate into a war of extermination.” In other words, accepting the inevitability of war, following a code of conduct during armed conflict distinguishes legitimate from illegitimate warfare. Remarkably, Kant envisioned the heart of the modern laws of war, or jus en bello, now codified in the Geneva Conventions and their Protocols and further reflected in customary law. At the same time, neither Kant nor the authors of the Geneva Conventions envisioned how contemporary means and actors in armed conflicts have threatened the central efficacy of the normative framework for lawful combat. This brief essay suggests how the ideas embedded in Kant’s Preliminary Article 6 might be embellished to accommodate some verities of our contemporary world.
Keywords: laws of war, international law, humanitarian law, human rights, peace studies
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