War Crimes and Just War

Larry May argues that the best way to understand war crimes is as crimes against humanness rather than as violations of justice. He shows that in a deeply pluralistic world, we need to understand the rules of war as the collective responsibility of states that send their citizens into harm\'s way, as the embodiment of humanity, and as the chief way for soldiers to retain a sense of honour on the battlefield. Throughout, May demonstrates that the principle of humanness is the cornerstone of international humanitarian law, and is itself the basis of the traditional principles of discrimination, necessity, and proportionality. He draws extensively on the older Just War tradition to assess recent cases from the International Tribunal for Yugoslavia as well as examples of atrocities from the archives of the International Committee of the Red Cross.

• Comprehensive treatment of morality of war crimes prosecutions • Links seventeenth-century just war theory to current international court cases • Reconceptualises principles of military necessity and proportionality


Introduction: 1. Justifying war but restricting tactics; Part A. Philosophical Groundings: 2. Collective responsibility and honor during war; 3. Jus gentium and minimal natural law; 4. Humane treatment as the cornerstone of the rules of war; Part B. Problems in Identifying War Crimes: 5. Killing naked soldiers: combatants and noncombatants; 6. Shooting poisoned arrows: banned and accepted weapons; 7. Torturing prisoners of war: protected and normal soldiers; Part C. Normative Principles: 8. The principle of discrimination or distinction; 9. The principle of necessity; 10. The principle of proportionality; Part D. Prosecuting War Crimes: 11. Prosecuting soldiers for war crimes; 12. Prosecuting military leaders for war crimes; 13. Commanded and commanding defenses; Epilogue and Conclusions: 14. Should terrorists be treated humanely?

Nøkkelord: Filosofi Idéhistorie Krig