War Aims Matter: Keeping Jus Contra Bellum Restrictive While Requiring the Articulation of the Goals of the Use of Force
48 Pages Posted: 19 Jan 2018
Date Written: January 12, 2018
Should planned humanitarian interventions be required to have a well-articulated plan for peace? What has been lost by reducing the principal justification for the use of force to self-defense? This article explains why a full articulation of the goals of the use of force should be required, but why this explanation of desired ends should not entail a loosening of the limited legal justifications for the use of force. Jus post bellum is focused on the successful transition from armed conflict to peace. The success of this effort begins with the formation and declaration of war aims, not with steps taken after cessation of hostilities. A review of recent international armed conflicts in Kuwait, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Ukraine, and elsewhere, underscores the connection between the articulation of war aims and the quality of the resulting peace. The customary law on declarations of war and peacemaking are examined, as well as current law rooted in the United Nations Charter.
The articulation of war aims matters not only for jus post bellum, but for the prevention of war and for jus in bello as well. An honest discussion of what is required to create the desired situation post bellum can generate internal and allied pressure to avoid the use of force in the first place. A clear explanation of the aims of the use of force may also improve rules of engagement so that specific targeting decisions and other decisions prioritize the construction of a just and sustainable peace. A more forthright and comprehensive formulation and disclosure of war aims should be demanded from the outset and throughout any ongoing series of decisions to use force.
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