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Jus Post Bellum and the Responsibility to Rebuild


This article considers the issue of who should rebuild after war. Many leading advocates of the relevance of jus post bellum for Just War Theory adhere to the ‘Belligerents Rebuild Thesis’, which holds that those who have been involved with the fighting – such as the victor, just belligerent, unjust aggressor or humanitarian intervener – should be tasked with the responsibility to rebuild. By contrast, this article argues that there is a collective, international duty to rebuild that should be assigned primarily according to the agent's ability to rebuild – and not necessarily to the belligerents. The article also claims that, in contrast to the prevailing view, considerations of jus post bellum do not play any moral role in the justifiability of a war. Accordingly, defending the Belligerents Rebuild Thesis by invoking the alleged moral relevance of jus post bellum for Just War Theory is mistaken.

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Politics, School of Social Sciences, University of Manchester (email: An earlier version of this article was presented at the International Studies Association's annual conference in San Francisco, April 2013. I would like to thank Jonathan Floyd, Pablo Kalmanovitz, Phil Orchard, Tom Sinclair and two anonymous referees for their very helpful comments and suggestions.

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This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

Alex J. Bellamy Paul D. Williams . 2009. The West and Contemporary Peace Operations. Journal of Peace Research 46 (1):3957.

Dieter Fleck . 2012. The Responsibility to Rebuild and its Potential for Law-Creation: Good Governance, Accountability and Judicial Control. Journal of International Peacekeeping 16 (1–2):8498.

Thomas Hurka . 2005. Proportionality in the Morality of War. Philosophy & Public Affairs 33 (1):3466.

Shunzo Majima . 2009. Forgotten Victims of Military Humanitarian Intervention: A Case for the Principle of Reparation. Philosophia 37 (2):203209.

Jeff McMahan . 2009a. Killing in War. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

David Miller . 2001. Distributing Responsibilities. Journal of Political Philosophy 9 (4):453471.

Thomas Nagel . 2005. The Problem of Global Justice. Philosophy & Public Affairs 33 (2):113147.

Brian Orend . 2007. Jus Post Bellum: The Perspective of a Just-War Theorist. Leiden Journal of International Law 20 (3):571591.

James Pattison . 2007. Representativeness and Humanitarian Intervention. Journal of Social Philosophy 38 (4):569587.

James Pattison . 2010. Humanitarian and the Responsibility to Protect: Who Should Intervene? Oxford: Oxford University Press.

James Pattison . 2013. When Is it Right to Fight? Just War Theory and the Individual-Centric Approach. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 16 (1):3554.

Andrei Sangiovanni . 2007. Global Justice, Reciprocity, and the State. Philosophy & Public Affairs 35 (1):339.

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British Journal of Political Science
  • ISSN: 0007-1234
  • EISSN: 1469-2112
  • URL: /core/journals/british-journal-of-political-science
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