New Orders? New Norms? On the Just War Tradition in the Twenty-First Century

Nicholas John Hugh Rengger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

92 Citations (Scopus)


This article argues that the rebirth of interest in the just war tradition, both academically and practically, over the last few years rests on a shaky foundation. It suggests that the character of the just war as a tradition is ill suited to certain aspects of the contemporary intellectual and political world and that historical developments in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries have combined unhelpfully to narrow the tradition's concerns. It also suggests that, especially after 11 September, there is a growing temptation to resent the restraints that the tradition is held to impose on warmaking and thus to ignore or abandon the just war as a way of thinking about the relationship between war and politics. Nevertheless, the article argues, to abandon the just war tradition would still bring about more loss than gain and that as ail aid to moral reflection and practice on the use of force, it is still a powerful tool and ail invaluable aid.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)353-363
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Affairs
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2002


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