War and its justification

War and Human Rights: A Complex Connection

War and its rationale are enormously difficult topics that get much more problematic when viewed through the lens of human rights and humanitarianism. War is regarded as the pinnacle of widespread devastation and the waste of human lives. From a humanitarian standpoint, every individual has the right to use the services provided in all aspects of society and live a peaceful existence. In this perspective, the major goals of humanitarianism are peace and a pleasant life. Several facets of human rights have been presented to strengthen and establish this viewpoint. Humanitarians see war and the use of military action as a means of utterly violating human rights. However, a number of experts have argued that an individual or a community has the right to defend itself in the wake of being attacked. In this sense, the individual or the community can utilize physical and political force to ensure their safety and deal with the invaders. Therefore, the connection between war and human rights is extremely ambiguous. Some experts perceive war as a violation of human rights while some other critics perceive war as justifiable when there is no other way to ensure basic human rights and the safety of the people. Therefore, there is a need to appropriately discuss and find out if war does any good for the human rights. This paper would critically research the existing base of literature and argue that war can protect human rights when it is needed and when there are no other means to establish the rights of the citizens as well as to ensure their wellbeing.

Method of the Research

The primary method through which evidence and information regarding the current topic have been collected is the literature review of some selected critical research papers. The literature review has been comprehensively done to critically look into some of the important research works related to the topic under investigation in order to collect some critical data and researched evidence so that appropriate arguments can be generated and discussed in light of those facts. The current literary base will be reviewed in order to meet this objective, and the set of most relevant papers and their findings will be discussed in a narrative manner. It has been recommended by professionals that a narrative description of the literature review should try to summarize and synthesize the findings that have been critically pointed out by and discussed in several kinds of existing literature so that the readers develop a proper understanding of the topic being studied. The narrative manner of the literature review would be used to find out, summarize, and compress the most common and the most significant results demonstrated in various journal articles and books that were collected from several extensive databases. Moreover, only the most relevant pieces of the existing literature were used to extensively discuss the several dimensions related to the topic of whether war is ever good for the human rights and whether war ever contributes to the human rights in a justifiable manner. No personal bias has been potentially introduced either during the process of the literature search to select the literary pieces or in the process of reviewing or discussing the selected literature. The strategy was to develop a constantly developing approach to point out and discuss the most relevant aspects related to this topic in which the discussion would attempt to argue that war can protect human rights when it is needed and when there are no other means to establish the rights of the citizens as well as to ensure their wellbeing.

Results of the Literature Review and Discussion

Human Rights, Humanitarianism, and War

Although human rights and humanitarianism can be considered as two completely different concepts, they both are somehow connected when the topic of war is introduced. The connection among these three concepts can be related to the idea of mankind's natural state as has been critically discussed by Hobbes. According to Hobbes, the condition of humankind can be considered as the condition of war which establishes that the domain of global connections, where no sovereign authority has the ruling power on the nations, embodies the basic condition of humankind. It cannot be denied that the nations are at times settled in a peaceful manner. Or maybe, it can be contended that regardless of the possibility that there is no such instance in the history wherein specific individuals were in a state of war against each other; yet in every circumstance, the ruling authorities feel continuous jealousy for each other, and remain in the condition and stance of an armed conflict. Plato contended that a war can truly be pursued if there is a proper justification behind it and furthermore held that the transformative progenitors were greatly savage and adversaries from the point of view of the basic condition of humankind.

However, the advocates of the human rights have established some valid countervailing contentions in order to suggest that antagonism and aggression do not constitute the basic state of mankind. Human rights theories suggest that the developmental ability of viciousness can be restrained, contingent upon social establishments and nature of the setting. The brutality of the ancestors reveals next to nothing about savagery and violence actions which are demonstrated during wars and armed conflicts nowadays. Pufendorf called attention to the fact that even in the absence of sovereignty, the nations might go to form friendly and allied relations and therefore, Hobbes' perception can be considered as a disagreement regarding the judgment skills of mankind in connection with the basic rights of the human beings to live in a peaceful society and avoid destruction. However, it can be admitted that friendly relationship among the nations, for the most part, has a somewhat feeble power among the entities which are in regular freedom with each other. The debate around what the actual condition or nature of mankind is and how the theories of human rights perceive the condition is an extremely critical point which may seem to be irresolvable. But the vital aspect is that the theories and contentions of human rights peace to be the ordinary state of humankind and they have a high standard of regard for maintaining the basic rights of the human beings to live happily in a peaceful manner where there is no war and wastage of resources. They also perceive the regulating prerequisites of war as an abnormality. As wars genuinely destroy human lives and resources, they obviously violate the basic standards of human rights. Wars and armed conflicts do nothing but calls for another war or conflict. There are a modest bunch of exemptions all through the historical documentation and the human rights supporters contend that the authorities often stick to those cases as a reason to begin the following war. Wars can be battled due to various and diverse kinds of reasons but it ultimately brings destruction and nothing else. It can be contended that an inevitable war could spare a greater number of human lives at a later point but then, during the time of an ongoing war, a number of human beings would live their lives and the basic rights of the human beings would be potentially violated. From this point of view, the war might not seem to be justifiable at any point in time.

Justifiable War

There is not any other instance of decision-making which is more pivotal and unfortunate than the choice of an authoritative power to go on a war and utilize its military force against its supposed enemies. But in the most obvious cases, these choices are likewise troublesome. Subsequently, the concept of justifiable war should be appropriately assessed and evaluated by the authoritative entities in light of human rights enforcement. The directions regarding the modernized concept of the justifiable war include the choice of being engaged in a war and the methodology of exercising the military force. The last arrangement of prerequisites concentrates on proportional assessment of the amount of military force that would be utilized, a comprehensive focus in order to restrain from causing harm to the innocent civilians, and the utilization of appropriate instruments to maintain a strategic distance from some specific types of weapons. The vast majority of the argument, in any case, mirrors the more fundamental choice regarding the determination of the time to get engaged in a war. Expanding on the works of Augustine and Aquinas, the authoritative powers should determine a worthwhile motivation and in addition, the validation of the choice by an able authority authorizing the endeavor. In any case, justifiable war suggests that the choice of being engaged in a war should be decided as a last resort to ensure the human rights of the majority of a population or to ensure the safety of a vast group of individuals on the basis of basic humanitarian law. Furthermore, the anticipated advantages must exceed the anticipated expenses and wastage in a long-term manner with an exclusive focus to establish the human rights. The hypothesis additionally contends that every one of the criteria should be available before a war can be regarded justifiable and henceforth embraced. The hypothesis of justifiable or reasonable war, without a doubt, contends that wars might be fought when there is no other choice for an entity to protect its sovereignty, freedom, the rights of citizens, and the safety of the nation as a means of extreme necessity. It suggests that the wars should be fought when the circumstances created by an external authority undermine the most crucial interests of a nation and do not at all encourage the contrasting options to utilize power. For example, WWII compelled a number of nations to go to war in order to maintain their freedom and preserve the basic rights of the citizens. Furthermore, the military retaliation by the USA, after Saddam Hussain invaded Kuwait, can also be considered as a justifiable war to not only secure the human rights of the citizens of Kuwait but also to ensure that no other aggressive power attempts to invade any other sovereign nation in the future. Furthermore, wars can also be justified and contribute to the assurance of human rights when the utilization of the military power seems to be the best accessible alternative according to the international policies of ensuring human rights and desirable peace. It has been observed that, if the contention regarding objective is commendable and if the war appears to be the best choice for to ensure the human rights and safety of the majority of human beings, it may prove to be sufficiently capable of gathering extensive local and universal support. From a more vital perspective, wars can also be justified when it is ensured that the utilization of armed power would eventually achieve all the more useful results for a greater number of individuals regarding the aspects of maintaining human rights and avoid unnecessary wastage of the resources than discretion, assents, and inaction.

The wars can be considered as justifiable only on the off chance that the war is battled on some reasonable grounds that are legitimized, and that it conveys adequate good weight on the aspects of morality and human rights. The nation which desires to utilize military power ought to exhibit that there is an admirable motivation to use the armed power. The principle worthy motivation is to battle against an entity which is doing wrong. Some of the time, a war can be battled in order to keep any validly anticipated undesirable and wrong instances from taking place in the future. From that point of view, wars can appropriately contribute to the assurance of human rights by defending the innocents. A war can contribute to the diverse concepts of human rights through presenting contentions that it is fought in order to defend the state and its citizens from external powers. Such defense can be made against invasion, attack on the state premise, terrorist attack, financial attack with the motivation of weakening the economic structure, attack on a renowned individual to shake the structure of the nation, attack on the neighboring or allied entities to consequentially weaken a nation, attack on the honor of a nation, and any kind of preemptive attack. The attacked nation or state can go to war against the attacking entity in order to protect its freedom and rights. In this manner, the human rights are strengthened and the safety of the citizens is assured. Furthermore, the nations can also go to war against other entities when they find that the external entity is violating the human rights of a vast majority of people or if they find that the entity is employing aggressive force which eventually violates the human rights. In this context, the justification of a war is that the war is fought in order to secure the human rights of the majority of people by rescuing them from undesirable aggression and dominance. Therefore, such war should never be considered as the instances where human rights are violated. Moreover, these wars are well capable of ensuring human rights, humanitarian regulations, and the desired peaceful state across the globe.


War and its connection with human rights indeed compose an ambiguous and complex topic which seems to be critically irresolvable. The basic premise of the contentions of human rights is based on the grounds that wars can only bring destruction, loss of human lives, wastage of resources, violation of human rights, and disbalance in the desired peaceful state in the society. The advocates of human rights have contended that war should be avoided at any cost in order to avoid such destruction and human rights violation. However, a number of theorists and experts have argued that wars can be justified from a humanitarian point of view on the basis of some reasonable grounds. It has been suggested that a war might appear to be well capable of ensuring the human rights and safety of a nation along with its citizens when it is found that the nation and its civilians are undesirable attacked (in various forms) by the external powers. In these circumstances, the attacked entity can go to war against the attacking power so that it can preserve its sovereignty as well as the basic rights of the civilians. From this point of view, war can be justified according to the circumstances and some reasonable grounds when it attempts to contribute to the assurance of human rights of the majority of concerned individuals. However, both unreasonable and justifiable wars bring inevitable destruction and therefore, war should always be considered as a last resort for self-defense when there is a need to ensure human rights and global peace.


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