The Just war theory was developed by St.Thomas aquinas. Aquinas was one of the most influential theologians
of the last 1000years. The theory set out conditions against which to judge whether or not a war should be
waged(Jus ad Bellum) & If it could be justified, and how it should be waged( Jus in Bello).
Aquinas’s conditions for Just war- jus ad bellum.
* The war must have a just cause- e.g, against invasion, or for self defence- not to acquire wealth or power.
* The war must be declared & controlled by proper authority, e.g the state or ruler.
* The war must be fought to promote good or avoid evil, with the aim of restoring peace & justice after the
war is over.
Later conditions developed by others- Jus in bello
* The war must be a last resort when all peaceful solutions have been tried & failed, e.g negotiation.
* The war should be fought with ‘proportionality’, with just enough force to achieve victory & only against
legitimate targets, that is civilians should be protected.
* The good which is achieved by the war must be greater than the evil which lead to the war.
Relevance in contemporary world:
One school of people says just war theory is relevant in modern day conflict to bring stability & peace.
Countries like United states & NATO applying the principle to intervene in Syria, Afghanistan etc.
Some people argue that the Just war Doctrine is inherently immoral, while others suggests that there is no
place for ethics in war. Still others argue that the doctrine doesn’t apply in the conditions of modern conflicts.
The existence of nuclear, chemical or biological weapons of mass destruction and terrorists are inherently
uninterested in morality. So, following any ethical theory of war handicaps those whom terrorists attack, thus
a different approach is needed.
Whether it has been followed?
The United States explicitly recognise just war theory as criteria some wrong has been committed by one
nation for which war is the proper redress by effects of its military activity. However, actions of US & some
other nations in Iran, Afghanistan and other Middle East nations raise doubt on the sincerity of these nations.
The dilution of International ethics and undermining the role of the International institutions in global
conflicts, shows that it is self interest( realism) and hard power of nations that is given priority over any ethics
The just war tradition as aquinas conceived it strikes the best prudential balance reconciling the desirable with
the possible, consistent with Judeo- Christian ethics rightly understood. The war itself is bad but even if it
occurs, it should follow some rules of conduct.