Jus Ad Vim and the Just Use of Lethal Force-Short-of-War

Authored by: S. Brandt Ford

Routledge Handbook of Ethics and War

Print publication date:  July  2013
Online publication date:  June  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415539340
eBook ISBN: 9780203107164
Adobe ISBN: 9781136261008


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My concern in this chapter is with the moral problem that soldiers 2 face when they are expected to kill in situations that are not clearly war. Over the last twenty years or so we have witnessed increasing use of the military for purposes other than fighting conventional wars. 3 This is due in part to the emerging norm in the 1990s favouring military intervention to protect civilians whose lives are seriously threatened, 4 in part, the recognition that the military can perform a variety of political functions in peacetime, 5 and in part a response to the heightened attention to the threat from terrorism. 6 These types of military operations encompass a wide range of tasks including peacekeeping, supporting civil authorities, counter-terrorism, disaster relief, enforcement of sanctions, and so on. 7 Most of them do not require the military to use lethal force. But in some cases, because they are working in an environment of conflict, the military is expected (and prepared) to use lethal force.

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