A Prima Facie duties version of Jus Post Bellum

Patricia Steck

Century College, White Bear Lake, MN


The just war tradition and most versions of just war theory begin with the elements of a decision to go to war and conclude when one side declares victory[1].  These considerations are generally called jus ad bellum (justice before war) and jus in bello (justice during war).  The assumption underlying most versions of just war theory is a world of Wesphalian-style nation-states, in which a war is declared, fought, and finished with a set of peace-talks and eventually war crimes trials.  The model for such a conflict was World War II in Europe, but the problem is that modern warfare does not follow this pattern.  A declaration of victory over the government does not entail the end of conflict in an area, nor does bringing down a government entail the end of moral responsibilities in the area.

The purpose of this paper is to extend  prima facie just war theory  to include justice after the war or jus post bellum. This is part of a larger project which includes a re-formulation of the jus ad bellum and jus in bello principles based on Ross’ prima facie duties framework.  The project also includes the formulation of a set of ethical principles concerning the time before jus ad bellum as well as the application of all the principles to the classic problem of a supreme emergency situation.[2]

Like Walzer’s original project in Just and Unjust Wars, this is a project about applied ethics.  As Walzer says,

This is a book of practical morality.  The study of judgments and justifications in the real world moves us closer, perhaps, to the most profound questions of moral philosophy, but it does not require direct engagement with those questions.  Indeed, philosophers who seek such an engagement often miss the immediacies of political and moral controversy and provide little help to men and women faced with hard choices.  For the moment, at least, practical morality is detached from its foundations, and we must act as if that separation were a possible (since it is actual) condition of moral life.[3]


The larger purpose of my project is to create a framework for use by the men and women faced with the hard choices in time of war.  It is for this reason that I decided to use Ross’ prima facie duties framework, as Ross’ central concern was about the nature of the choices and duties of the ‘plain man’.  As  Ross says,

When a plain man fulfills a promise because he thinks he ought to do so, it seems clear that the does so with no thought of its total consequences, still less with any opinion that these are likely to be the best possible….What makes him think it is right to act in a certain way is the fact that he has promised to do so – that and, usually, nothing more.[4]


The plan for this paper is to begin by summarizing current thinking on post-conflict responsibilities.  I will then apply prima facie duties to current jus post bellum principles.  In so doing I will explain Ross’ theory and the general means of applying prima facie duties to just war theory.  I will then apply Rossian principles to post-conflict ethics.

Current thinking on jus post bellum

Although the duties after war have only recently (if they have been at all) been included in the just war tradition, the restoration of the American south after the U.S. Civil war, as well as the significant effort at reconstruction after World War II are evidence that the end of the war has not traditionally been the end of the moral duties concerning the war.  Efforts at reconstruction can be justified on both practical and moral grounds, and it has historically been the case that the U.S. has provided assistance to areas in which its wars have been fought.  Critics would say that those efforts have a selfish motive, in that they are intended to buy alliances with the newly sovereign states.  It is also clear that such reconstruction is not required by the traditional just war theory, thus there is a need for an extension of the just war tradition to cover post-conflict duties.

Camilla Bosanquet summarized the literature on justice after the war in a paper for ISME 07.[5]  In her paper she summarizes the work of Orend, Bass, Walzer and others and arrives at seven elements necessary to justice after war.  This section will begin with a summary of Bosanquet’s version of jus post bellum duties, as they are the current thinking on the problem of moral obligations after war.  I will continue by noting some places in which Bosanquet and her predecessors could have been more complete and by re-interpreting jus post bellum principles in light of prima facie duties.

Bosanquet’s version of jus post bellum duties[6]

In Refining Jus Post Bellum, Bosanquet traces the development thinking on post-conflict responsibilities.  As a general principle, she makes a distinction between recommendations for actions following particular conflicts and the development of broader principles that should govern all post-conflict situations.  The goal of her paper is to focus on the broader theoretical principles. 

Situating her work in the just war tradition, Bosanquet says,

If Schuck suggested his principles “as a start”, then I offer my criteria “as a continuation” and recognize that further work will likely be required.  Each criterion reflects or expands upon thoughts of others;  I believe that this formulation of jus post bellum criteria goes some way toward bringing previous efforts into harmony.[7] 


In this section I will summarize Bosanquet’s criteria and in the following section I will positionin them within the prima facie duties.

Bosanquet’s seven jus post bellum criteria are: 1) rights vindication, 2) publicity, 3) honorable intention, 4) protection, 5) rehabilitation, 6) justice, 7) restoration.[8] She bases her criteria on a wide variety of thinkers, beginning with Schuck and extending to significant figures such as Orend and Walzer.  For this reason, I will take her criteria as an accurate picture of the current thinking about jus post bellum.

The principle of rights vindication, “requires a reversal of the aggression that prompted parties to resort to arms in self-defense or the defense of others.”[9]  The central idea is that after the war is fought, the warring parties must insure that the just cause for the war becomes reality. 

Publicity is the broad responsibility for the victors to include the residents of the area in decisions that impact them.  Beginning with the terms of peace and the plans for reconstruction and continuing to the end of occupation, the requirement of publicity reinforces the rights of the people to have input into the policies that shape their future.  As applicable, the requirement of publicity entails the requirement to solicit input about policies and to even facilitate debate about the options for reconstruction.

In order to fulfill the criterion of honorable intention, parties must pursue their stated post bellum objectives with a good will.  Bosanquet is quick to point out that actions demonstrate honorable intentions, and thus actions such as honoring the human rights of the vanquished and respect for former combatants are required.  Long-term actions that demonstrate honorable intention include both limiting occupation and refusing material benefit.[10]

The criterion of protection includes providing security measures and general care for those in the vanquished area.  Furthermore, the long-term responsibility for the victors may include rehabilitation of the environment and other measures to insure the long-term security against those who may exploit the lack of natural resources in the immediate area.[11]

The move from protection to the restoration of peace, security and sovereignty is required by the criterion of rehabilitation.  The most basic responsibility is to rebuild both the physical and political, social and economic infrastructure.  During rehabilitation, those doing the work must insist on adherence to the norms supporting human rights.  Reversal of aggression, punishment of the aggressor and measures to deter future aggression are key elements to the principle of rehabilitation.  Rehabilitation does not, and should not, require the installation of any particular political system as a means of repressing future aggression. [12] 

While some just war theorists think that thoughtful and well-planned demilitarization is the final requirement of rehabilitation, Bosanquet places it in the criterion of justice.  This is because she places war crimes trials and punishment, reparations and public assignment of blame and condemnation in this category as well.  In doing so, Bosanquet includes the following caveat, “I argue that the principle of justice obliges post bellum parties to consider all available means for punishment and deterrence alongside the unique circumstances, needs, and objectives of both the vanquished and the victimized.”[13]  Thus, if it is the case that achieving complete justice prolongs the conflict or if the vanquished and victimized choose to decline war trials, justice may be sacrificed for peace or the wishes of the victim.

The final jus post bellum criterion is restoration.  This is the obligation to see that the rehabilitated nation is sovereign and has a place in the international community.  This criterion is the culmination of all jus post bellum activities.  Bosanquet agrees with Walzer that it is not sufficient to restore the nation to its pre-war status, but rather the nation must be in what they call “restoration plus” status, so that it can avoid the problems that caused the conflict in the first place.[14]

Criticism of the current thinking on just post bellum duties

While Bosanquet was on the right track when she decided to stick to theory instead of focusing on particular post-conflict situations, the criteria she suggests could use some improvement.  One problem is that the criteria themselves are not based on an underlying ethical theory, and thus if they come into conflict there is no means to resolve the conflict.  Second, the criteria include something like a duty for those doing the reconstruction to have a good attitude.   This is distinct from the other criteria she articulates, as it cannot be measured or verified.  Finally, the criteria she articulates are sometimes redundant and at other times they are not strong enough.  Resolving some of these broader criticisms results in other, more specific, differences between my principles and those articulated by Bosanquet. 

A prima facie duties version of jus post bellum

The balance of this paper is an argument in favor of a set of jus post bellum principles based on Rossian prima facie duties.  It will begin with a synopsis of Ross’s ethical theory and an explanation of how they can generally be applied to just war theory.  It will then apply prima facie duties to the problem of post-conflict ethics, thus creating a prima facie version of jus post bellum.

Ross’ Prima Facie duties and a Just War Theory based on Prima Facie duties[15]



W.D. Ross, in The Right and the Good, creates a pluralistic system of prima facie duties.  Among those duties are the duties of non-injury and beneficence.  Ross says, of these prima facie duties, “there is nothing arbitrary about these prima facie duties.  Each rests on a definite circumstance which cannot seriously be held to be without moral significance.”[16]  Ross continues on to name these duties, saying that the list is not necessarily complete or final. 

Ross tells us that the duties can be classified according to previous actions of ourselves (fidelity and reparation), or others (gratitude).  They can also arise from the possibility of improving the lives of others (beneficence) or ourselves (self-improvement).  The primary negative duty is one of ‘non-injury’, which Ross tells us is distinct from beneficence, as it is of “more stringent character.”[17]  Still other duties can be traced to “…the fact or possibility of a distribution of happiness (or of the means thereto) which is not in accordance with the merit of the persons concerned; in such cases there arises a duty to upset or prevent such a distribution.  These are the duties of justice.”[18]  Ross’ version of justice is most easily applied to cases of unfair distribution of economic goods. 

The nature of Ross’ system of pluralistic duties is such that there is no hierarchy of duties.[19]  There is no pre-determined ranking of duties that would put beneficence over fidelity or any other possible combination.  On the theoretical level, each good is equal to all others and in a given context the final duty could be to take action that places one duty above another.[20]   In support of the plurality of prima facie duties Ross tells us, “…no act is ever, in virtue of falling under some general description, necessarily actually right; its rightness depends on its whole nature and not on any element in it.”[21]  Ross is telling us that there is no abstract way of determining a right action; rather each action’s rightness depends on its context.

Ross reasons that in order to decide on a final duty, we must use our own practical reason.  While Ross’ method for resolving conflicts is left vague in The Right and the Good, it does include the requirement that we use our own judgment or intuition in order to decide on a final duty in any given situation.[22]  Finally, when a Rossian prima facie duty is overridden, it isn’t the case that the duty actually goes away.  For example, when the duty of fidelity is overridden, the residue of the duty remains and the person for whom a promise was broken deserves an explanation of the reason behind the broken promise.[23]

Just war theory as an application of prima facie duties

Understanding just war theory in terms of Rossian prima facie duties continues a project started by Childress in his 1978 article Just War Theories:  The Bases, Interrelations, Priorities and Functions of the Criteria. Childress intended to show that the most important justification for just war theory concerned instances in which the duty not to injure was overridden.[24]  Childress progressed by explaining each of the traditional just war principles in terms of overriding the duty not to injure. As Childress phrases it, “just war criteria can be illuminated by the language of prima-facie obligations and the content of the particular obligations (not to injure or kill others) that the justification of war must override.”[25]

            Childress establishes the groundwork for a theoretical framework for the commonly held set of just war norms.  Once fleshed out, this framework will increase the coherence of just war norms and provide a context for just war theorists to pay attention to, “numerous issues, including the bases, interrelations, and functions of their criteria”.[26] Childress’ stated goal was not to establish a substantive theory of just war; rather his goal was to, “…show that just-war criteria are important and even indispensable moral standards apart from any particular theory of justice.  They are explicable, I have argued, by reference to the notion of prima facie duties and, specifically, to the prima facie duty not to injure or kill”.[27]

            As part of his project, Childress articulates the underlying assumption that war ought to be a rule-governed activity and that it ought not be considered merely an extension of politics.[28]  This is a key assumption, as the relatively low number of rules in political interactions leads to the maxim, ‘all’s fair in love and war’ and the maxim that ‘war is hell’.  Both of these maxims implicitly deny the idea that those waging war can and should adhere to a set of principles that can decrease the hellish nature of war. 

In times of war the ethical challenge is justifying overriding the prima facie duty of non-injury.  As part of his project, Childress explains each tenet of just war theory in the context of Rossian prima facie duties, thus creating a framework in which a requirement for going to war is a creating the justification for overriding non-injury.[29]  The question of how to act in any particular situation or conflict is one of actual duty, in which the person making the decision weighs the decision in terms of competing prima facie duties and comes to a conclusion.  Although Childress explains each of the just war criteria individually, his analysis of the just war tradition does not vary significantly from the commonly accepted elements articulated by others.  His explication does introduce one important theme and two supporting themes as a result of being grounded in prima facie duties. 

The important theme is more of an articulation of the significant evidence concerning the way in which the overridden duty of non-injury influences many aspects of just war criteria.  Nearly every aspect of just war theory is influenced by the idea that the default position is non-injury and every aspect of war ought to be conducted with the underlying value of reducing injury.[30]

In support of this theme, while discussing the principle requiring a reasonable hope of success, Childress introduces the requirement that at least some of a nation’s prima facie duties be achieved by going to war.[31]  In his discussion of the requirement for a formal declaration of war, Childress introduces the requirement that a government provide public explanation and justification for its decision to depart from the default position of keeping the peace.[32]

Overall, Childress makes it very clear that the overridden duty of non-injury shapes just war criteria and thus shapes the actions of war.  The general idea is that even in situations when the duty of non-injury must be overridden, it’s residue remains and even necessary acts of war should be as compatible as possible with the overridden duty.  Childress also allows for remorse concerning war, saying that remorse is often an appropriate response to the decision to override a duty.

Another significant element of Childress’ project is the requirement for actors in wartime to explain or report on their actions after the fact.[33]  Much in the same way someone owes an explanation as to why one prima facie duty overrides another, actors in international conflicts owe an explanation of the decision to override non-injury.

My larger project is an extension of Childress’ project.  The central idea is that there are a variety of possible duties that could cause non-injury to be overridden.  As a result, the commonly accepted principles of just war theory become criteria by which the decision to override non-injury can be considered and later justified or explained and as such. This means that the just war criteria function as an application of Rossian prima facie duties.  If the decision to go to war is made in accord with the conditions for just war, then they can access modes of reasoning and decision making available under the prima facie duties. As a result, they are acting in accord with the prima facie duties.  If it is the case that the set of just war criteria are an application of prima facie duties, then the just war criteria are subject to the same kinds of calculations, situational judgments and reflexive equilibrium as the main body of prima facie duties.  When applied to warfare, this means that a soldier faced with a moral decision can ethically take the context of his decision into account when determining his next action.[34] Finally, the structure of Rossian prima facie duties requires an explanation after the fact.  This element would remain within a prima facie set of just war criteria, thus preserving the reflection and reporting requirement useful in improving both military and moral practice.

             An important question to ask for any proposed revision is whether or not it contradicts well-accepted thinking in the field?[35]  It is important to begin by noting that Walzer often speaks in terms of rights and duties.   According to Orend, “Walzer talks like this when he stresses that rights are “overridden” in a supreme emergency, presumably by the “highest values” of shared and just communal existence.”[36]  Further, Walzer’s own chapter on supreme emergencies has a section titled “Overriding the Rules of War”, in which he outlines the logic of Churchill’s decision to override the principle of discrimination in order to win the war against Nazi Germany.[37]  Finally, Walzer explicitly discusses overriding the rules of war in a manner similar to that of prima facie duties when he says:

But there are moments when the rules can and perhaps have to be overridden.  They have to be overridden precisely because they have not been suspended.  And overriding the rules leaves guilt behind, as a recognition of the enormity of what we have done and a commitment not to make our actions into an easy precedent for the future.[38]


It seems fair to say that there seems to be ample evidence on this point, although including a lot more would detract from the focus of the paper.  Suffice it to say that Walzer’s underlying ethical principles are not incompatible with Rossian prima facie duties.

Just war principles resemble prima facie duties

When just war principles are established as an application of prima facie duties, they do not become actual duties until the time they must be acted upon.  So, following the logic of prima facie duties, they are all binding in theory.  An actual duty is formed when a situation arises that requires action.  If two or more duties conflict, one duty must override the other and an explanation and justification of that decision will be expected. 

Just war principles are similar to prima facie duties because when they become actual duties, each principle could be overridden by one or more of the other principles.  It is an important caveat to note that each just war principle is so important that deciding to wage war with one of the principles overridden requires an extraordinarily strong justification.  This is because the set of just war principles, as a group, function as a restriction on instances of overriding the principle of non-injury, thus going to war without one of those principles in place requires an even stronger justification.  So, instead of the optimal war being one in which each just war principle is fulfilled, this is the default situation and the extraordinarily rare just war is one in which one just war principle overrides another. 

The remainder of this paper will develop a coherent, consistent and concise set of principles for the time after war that are an application of Rossian prima facie duties, and thus can access the same methods for resolving conflicts between the principles.  Because these principles are the final extension of a set of conflict ethics that begins with consideration of pre-conflict ethics and ends with jus post bellum, these principles also access the thinking and reasoning behind the other parts of the theory. 

Prima Facie duties and jus post bellum principles

The time after cessation of formal hostilities is morally more ambiguous than fighting the war itself.  Instead of attempting to win military battles while preventing harm to innocents and your own troops, the victor now has the duty to complete the complex duties necessary to restore physical, social and political infrastructure so that the area can become sovereign.  Jus ad bellum and jus in bello principles are necessary to justify overriding the principle of non-injury.  Jus post bellum principles must justify the decision of the victor to override the principle of self-improvement, which would entail the victor simply exploiting the area of the conflict and then leaving the residents to deal with the results.  It is also the case that the specifics of jus post bellum are, in essence, an extension of the duty to create a just peace.[39]

In the most general ways, a prima facie account of jus post bellum principles is an application of all of Ross’ duties.  Fidelity is involved when promises about reconstruction are made in order to negotiate for peace, as well as the promise to implicit in the principle of just cause, i.e. the promise to stop fighting when there is no longer a just cause.[40]  The duty to see to reparations is perhaps the most obvious duty, as the guiding principle underlying jus post bellum principles is the idea that the victor contributed to damaging the community, has the resources to repair that damage and thus has a duty to fix that damage.[41]  Gratitude might reasonably be expected from those who benefit from the reconstruction.  Justice plays a role both in the legal sense and in the sense that reconstruction ought to both be done fairly and result in a just society.  Beneficence is clearly a goal in reconstruction activities, because the end result should be to improve the lives of people most directly impacted by the war.  Since the victors can make their lives better post-war, they clearly should do so.  The duty of non-injury  is clearly still applicable, as the transition between active fighting and post-war reconstruction does not entail the elimination of the prior duties.  It is also the case that reconstruction activities ought not result in injury to the people deserving help.  Perhaps the most controversial duty in this case is the duty of self-improvement.  Although self-improvement ought not be a motive for war and it ought not be a primary or even secondary motive in reconstruction, as long as the deals made are mutually beneficial it isn’t unreasonable to see situations in which self-improvement is permissible by those doing the reconstruction.[42] Less controversial is the idea that the victor has a duty to facilitate the vanquished in their efforts at self-improvement.

Particular Jus post bellum duties are an application of  prima facie duties

Although the general idea of reconstruction is a clear application of prima facie duties, in a post-conflict situation, there is also a specific set of post-conflict duties.  Those duties are, physical security, human rights, input, restoration-plus and independence.  Just as the  jus ad bellum and jus in bello principles are applications of  Rossian prima facie duties, jus post bellum are also applications of prima facie duties.  Although all the prima facie  duties play a role, the central goals of all parties in this time period are to support the duties of reparations and beneficence.  The long-term goal is to increase the likelihood that the people in the area will be able to fulfill their own prima facie duties.

Similar to jus ad bellum  and jus in bello duties based on prima facie duties, jus post bellum duties are, in theory,  simultaneously binding.  Along the same lines, it is the goal that all duties be simultaneously satisfied.  If one duty must be overridden in favor or another when the final duty is acted upon, a justification is required.  This clause is necessary because these theoretical duties are only significant in the context of a real post-conflict situation, so their implementation relies on the judgment of people in that situation. 

Finally, these duties are in approximate chronological order beginning with the duties that are usually most pressing immediately after the cessation of hostilities.  This order is not binding and there may be good reasons to alter the order, depending on the circumstances.

Bonsaquant’s jus post bellum criterion of “honorable intention” is really more of a necessary condition that is binding on all parties, I’ll call this condition a helpful attitude.  The condition of a helpful attitude is similar to the prima facie jus ad bellum duty of competent authority, as both are requirements for the implementation of the other duties.[43]  Demonstration of a helpful attitude falls most clearly on the representatives of the victorious nation in the post-conflict territory.  In the most general terms, this means that there needs to be an attitude shift on behalf of all parties from conflict to cooperation.   Area residents and defeated soldiers demonstrate their helpful attitude by providing knowledge of the area and culture that will make reconstruction easier.  The victors demonstrate a helpful attitude by working to fulfill all other jus post bellum duties.  They also do so by limiting their occupation and not exploiting natural resources. 

The victor’s first duty is to create physical security.  The duty of security is an application of the prima facie duty of non-injury.  In this case the duty is to act prevent injury from violence, economic depravation or the environment. In the most general terms, all parties ought to be secure from physical harm and have the basic necessities for life.  This duty is akin to first-aid or disaster relief in that the solutions are not permanent and should not be considered long-term.   It may be the case that achieving security requires de-militarization, or at least de-activation of combat units.

The second duty is to facilitate the reinstatement of human rights.  Generally, the most just cause for war is a substantial violation of human rights.  Thus, establishing and guaranteeing human rights is a fundamental requirement of post-conflict situations.  Supporting human rights is an extension of the jus ad bellum condition of a just cause and forms the basis of the promise made when declaring war.  As a result, the prima facie duty of fidelity is one of the duties being applied.  The other duty, and the more persuasive duty, is the duty of beneficence.  Underlying the jus ad bellum principles is an implicit promise that the post-conflict conditions in the area will be better.  The key element of this promise is an improvement in human rights.  This is an extension of an argument made by McMahon that the most important just war principle is the principle of the just cause – he argues that a continuing just cause is the only reason to continue fighting.[44] 

An important sub-category of human rights is the right to self-governance.  In the case of a post-conflict area, this includes the right of area residents to give input concerning the long-term rehabilitation of the area.  While the specific means and mechanisms for input will vary, those doing the rehabilitation have a duty to seek extensive input from the citizens of the area.  This input may come in the form of informal conversations, public debates or any other means to insure that rehabilitation plans are appropriate and practical for the people who will be living in the area.  It should be noted that the input ought not be limited to the details of physical rehabilitation, but rather needs to extend to the social, political and economic rehabilitation necessary for an area to move from post-conflict dependence to independence.

Restoration-plus is the third jus post bellum duty.  As Bosanquet argues, it isn’t sufficient to return the area to the conditions before the conflict, rather the area should be improved in order to prevent future wars.[45]  The duty of restoration-plus is based on the prima facie duty of reparation, fixing what you broke.  This is a slight variation on the Rossian duty, as fulfilling it does not imply that the action taken was wrong.[46]  Rather, the idea is that the victor had a significant role in ‘breaking’ the area, they have the means to repair the area, and thus they ought to do so.  The general idea is that, taking input from the area residents into consideration, the victor ought to repair the physical infrastructure, clean up the environment and facilitate the development of the social, political and economic organizations that will lead to the area’s independence. 

In terms of economic development, I partially disagree with Walzer when he argues that the victor ought not profit from the restoration of a post-conflict area.  While I agree that it is wrong to exploit an area under reconstruction, some level of profit-making is inevitable as contractors and other private businesses are often the most efficient means to complete restoration.  Further, making mutually beneficial economic arrangements ought not be excluded, especially if the newly independent government approves those deals.  This is one way that the citizens of the victorious nation can have some of the costs of war recovered and is an application of the prima facie duty of self-improvement.

Included in the concept of restoration-plus is a duty to facilitate individual self-improvement for area citizens and former soldiers.  This may include vocational training, physical rehabilitation, the development of new economic opportunities and markets, establishing or reestablishing educational institutions and building a healthcare infrastructure to care for soldiers and civilians wounded in the war.  It may also be the case that the victor incurs a long-term commitment to funding the educational and healthcare organizations and a commitment to participating in the long-term economic activities of the area.

Further, it seems that this is one area in which the victor has duties at home as well.  Every soldier involved in fighting the war faces the challenge of transition from combat to civilian life, including those returning after winning a war.  Among the highest priorities of the victorious nation should be the care, rehabilitation and integration of their own returning soldiers.  This includes a commitment to providing the highest quality of education and healthcare benefits.

I agree with Bosanquet that it ought not be the case that the victor establishes their preferred form of government in an attempt to prevent future conflicts, rather the form of government is one of the essential elements that should be covered in input from the community. [47] Depending on the circumstances, a temporary government may be put in place, but only if it is needed to continue physical security and to facilitate input from the citizens of the area.

Input from the community should determine the form and extent of post-conflict justice.  It may be the case that the community desires war crimes trials or other means of punishing those who committed war crimes.  It is also the case that war crimes trials and truth and reconciliation tribunals have a limited record of success in actually solving problems or achieving justice.   It may be the case that a safe and restored community realizes that the mechanisms of justice will open new wounds without the likelihood of  resolving problems.  In either case, I disagree with Iasiello who argues that an international tribunal is necessary to facilitate justice.[48]   Rather the wishes of the area residents ought to be respected and if the consensus is that international help is necessary then it ought to be provided.

The final jus post bellum duty is the duty to insure that the post-conflict area becomes independent.  This independence includes the ability to do international trade, the organizations necessary to participate in international exchanges as well as participate in world governance.  The transition to independence is a clear example of the victor facilitating the development of one of the area’s prima facie duties, in this case it is the duty of self-improvement.  International relations both benefit the country and tend to diffuse future conflicts. 

In conclusion, while there is considerable work to be done in this area, extending the prima facie just war principles to jus post bellum considerations creates a coherent set of principles to govern conflict and its aftermath. 




Bosanquet, C. (2007). Refining Jus Post Bellum. ISME.

Childress, J. F. (1978). "Just-War Theories:  The Bases, Interrelations, Priorities and Functions of their Criteria." Theological Studies 39.

Childress, J. F. (1982). Moral Responsibility in Conflicts. Baton Rouge, Louisiana State University Press.

Iasiello, L. (2004). "Jus Post Bellum." Naval War College Review LVII(3/4).

Kahl, C. (2006). "How We Fight." Foreign Affairs 85(6).

Kennedy, R. (2008). Is Just War Theory Obsolete?, International Society for Military Ethics.

McMahan, J. (2005). "Just Cause for War." Ethics and International Affairs 19(3): 1-21.

Orend, B. (2001). "Just and Lawful Conduct in War:  Reflections on Michael Walzer." Law and Philosophy 20.

Ross, W. D. (1930). The Right and the Good. Indianapolis, Hackett.

Walzer, M. (1977). Just and Unjust Wars. New York, Basic Books.

Walzer, M. (2004). Arguing about War. New Haven, CT, Yale University Press.



[1] Kennedy makes the distinction between the just war tradition and the multiple just war theories.  Kennedy, R. (2008). Is Just War Theory Obsolete?, International Society for Military Ethics.

[2] See my 2008 ISME paper: http://www.usafa.edu/isme/ISME08/Steck08.html.

[3] Walzer, M. (1977). Just and Unjust Wars. New York, Basic Books. xxi

[4] Ross, W. D. (1930). The Right and the Good. Indianapolis, Hackett.17.

[5] Bosanquet, C. (2007). Refining Jus Post Bellum. ISME.

[6] Bosanquet’s article is an excellent summary and analysis of the development of the jus post bellum criteria.  For this reason, I am using her principles as a starting point and will not summarize her analysis of other jus post bellum thinkers

[7] Bosanquet, 12.

[8] Bosanquet, 12.

[9] Bosanquet, 12.

[10] Bosanquet, 12-13.

[11] Bosanquet, 13.

[12] Bosanquet, 13.

[13] Bosanquet, 14.

[14] Bosanquet, 14.

[15] Here I am using “theory” to mean a fleshed-out version of the just war tradition based on a broader ethical theory.  The broader project is a complete just war theory based on Ross’ prima facie duties. 

[16] Ross, 20.

[17] Ross, 21.

[18] Ross, 21.

[19] Ross, 23.

[20] Ross, 19.

[21] Ross, 33.

[22] Ross, 19.

[23] Ross, 28.

[24] Childress, J. F. (1978). "Just-War Theories:  The Bases, Interrelations, Priorities and Functions of their Criteria." Theological Studies 39.

[25] Childress, (1978), 259.

[26] Childress, (1978), 272.

[27] Childress, J. F. (1982). Moral Responsibility in Conflicts. Baton Rouge, Louisiana State University Press.,  91-92.

[28] Childress, (1982), 71-72.

[29] Childress, (1978), 263-268.

[30] Childress, (1982), 73-81.

[31] Childress, (1982), 76.

[32] Childress, (1982), 75-76.

[33] Childress, (1982), 76.

[34] Kahl, C. (2006). "How We Fight." Foreign Affairs 85(6).  While it seems as if this change may cause some problems within military organizations, it isn’t far from current training in the U.S. military. Kahl’s article provides ample evidence that values training, with a few notable and well-publicized exceptions, has created soldiers who tend to consider their duties as soldiers when making decisions both on the battlefield and in other areas of their professional lives.

[35] By way of defining “major thinking” it is fair to say that Walzer has been quite influential, both in civilian and military settings.  Just and Unjust Wars is assigned as a central text in courses across the spectrum of higher education, including US military universities.  Also, in a conversation in Lincoln, NE in November 2006, Walzer and I discussed the general idea of a prima facie ethics of warfare.  Walzer was generally positive about the project.

[36] Orend, B. (2001). "Just and Lawful Conduct in War:  Reflections on Michael Walzer." Law and Philosophy 20.27.

[37] Walzer, M. (1977). Just and Unjust Wars. New York, Basic Books.,  255.

[38] Walzer, M. (2004). Arguing about War. New Haven, CT, Yale University Press. 34.

[39] A just peace is a standard requirement of jus ad bellum.  In the justice before the war reasoning, the requirement is that a war cannot be fought unless it could result in a just peace, i.e. a peace that does not require continuous violence to maintain. 

[40] McMahan, J. (2005). "Just Cause for War." Ethics and International Affairs 19(3): 1-21.

[41] This is a bit different from Ross’ original formulation, as Ross implies that the duty to reparations is only a result of actions done by the person, but  in post-conflict ethics, it is generally the case that the victor should repair all the damage, not just the damage they caused themselves.

[42] Here I’m thinking about a situation in which one country has a high demand for a product and the country they are reconstructing has an ability to make that product.  Why not have a mutually beneficial trade deal?  Conversely, if the country doing the reconstruction has an industry that will benefit from the market in the newly reconstructed country, why not develop that market and the connection between the two countries?

[43] The details are in my explication of a prima facie duties based jus ad bellum.

[44] McMahan, J. (2005). "Just Cause for War." Ethics and International Affairs 19(3): 1-21.

[45] Bosanquet, C. (2007). Refining Jus Post Bellum. ISME. 13.

[46] Ross says of reparations, “those resting on a previous wrongful act.  Those may be called the duties of reparation.” (Ross, 21).

[47] Bosanquet, 13.

[48] Iasiello, L. (2004). "Jus Post Bellum." Naval War College Review LVII(3/4).  48.