- New wars, new morality?
- Acta Politica
- Volume | Issue number
- 44 | 1
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)
Has war fundamentally changed? If so, it may be time for reconsidering accepted moral standards for waging wars and for conduct in war. The new war thesis holds that wars have fundamentally altered since the end of the Cold War. Proponents such as Kaldor and Weiss hold that wars today are intrastate rather than interstate and are primarily being fought in the context of fragmented states.This thesis has acquired broad support, but it has also raised various criticisms. Taking account of empirical evidence, this review starts with an assessment of the various aspects of the thesis. The new war thesis has important normative implications. It challenges the traditional presumption that the sovereign state is the only authority capable of legitimate political violence. It also questions traditional justifications for humanitarian military intervention and for restrictions of human rights in the war against terrorism. These challenges are taken up by just war theorists. The review concludes that while the new wars thesis tends to overestimate the novelty of empirical trends, the just war theorists risk to overemphasize the need for ethical renewal.
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