Just Post Bello and Jus Militebus

Since the Second World War, the concepts of Jus Ad Bello and Jus In Bello have become important parts of just war theory – justice on the way to war and justice in the war itself respectively. These can be briefly summarised as the justifications for war in the first place and using it as a last resort for Jus Ad Bello while Jus In Bello is not killing civilians etc. There is a third that is not as well known, Jus Post Bello or justice after war. The ever wonderful Wikipedia gives five themes for Just Post Bello.


  • Just cause for termination - A state may terminate a war if there has been a reasonable vindication of the rights that were violated in the first place, and if the aggressor is willing to negotiate the terms of surrender. These terms of surrender include a formal apology, compensations, war crimes trials and perhaps rehabilitation.
  • Right intention - A state must only terminate a war under the conditions agreed upon in the above criteria. Revenge is not permitted. The victor state must also be willing to apply the same level of objectivity and investigation into any war crimes its armed forces may have committed.
  • Public declaration and authority - The terms of peace must be made by a legitimate authority, and the terms must be accepted by a legitimate authority.
  • Discrimination - The victor state is to differentiate between political and military leaders, and combatants and civilians. Punitive measures are to be limited to those directly responsible for the conflict.
  • Proportionality - Any terms of surrender must be proportional to the rights that were initially violated. Draconian measures, absolutionist crusades and any attempt at denying the surrendered country the right to participate in the world community are not permitted.


I would add some others. One should be an undertaking to reconstruct the damage caused during the war, whoever caused it. The big one, though, is that you should pay for it. In Iraq, oil has effectively been privatised to pay for the US and others’ costs without any reference to the wishes of the people of Iraq. There should be commitments to long term support of the country to guarantee its stability. One of the reasons that the transitions to democracy in Spain, Portugal and Greece were so successful was the pouring of money by Europe into those states to prop up democracy, invest in infrastructure and relieve tax pressures. Where was the twenty-year plan for Iraq?


Some will say that we should not put these restrictions on ourselves as there are bad people out there who won’t play by the rules. The fact that someone else behaves immorally doesn’t mean that you should. Moreover, by not upholding such norms it allows other countries to behave in that way and perpetuates the double standards that cause problems in international relations.


Another should be an automatic commitment to a complete, public review of the war of conflict so that lessons can be learned in maintaining useful parts of the former regime’s apparatus and how the war was conducted.


This leads me onto Jus Militebus – justice for the soldiers. I would say that, if we are going to commit troops, they should be well-protected. The arguments for this are widespread – increases the troops’ security, cost-effectiveness, less stress, it’s the right thing to do – but it’s worth remembering that equipment shortages in Iraq are nothing new. One of the reasons a lot of people died when HMS Sheffield was sunk in the Falklands conflict was that the then-Tory government had decided, to cut costs, on uniforms that ignited very quickly despite service chiefs’ protests. It also applies to Courts Martial; I can understand why in some circumstances a very quick decision would have to be made, but are troops in Aldershot under so much pressure that they have to be denied due process? Hmm… as I’ve said before, an armed forces union might be interesting.


It also means looking after ex-service personnel properly after they return from a conflict and when they’re discharged at the end of service – helping them adapt (from an institutionalised setting to normal living and perhaps dealing with PTSD etc. as well as physical damage) and keeping an eye over the years.




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