Non-violent Resistance and Last Resort

Journal of Military Ethics 15 (4):259-274 (2016)
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It is commonly accepted that recourse to war is justifiable only as a last resort. If a situation can be resolved by less harmful means, then war is unjust. It is also commonly accepted that violent actions in war should be necessary and proportionate. Violent actions in war are unjust if the end towards which those actions are means can be achieved by less harmful means. In this article, I argue that satisfaction of the last resort criterion depends in part upon the likelihood of success of non-violent alternatives to war, and that the actual and potential effectiveness of non-violent resistance means that the last resort criterion of the jus ad bellum and the proportionality criterion of the jus in bello are harder to satisfy than is often presumed.

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Nicholas Parkin
Peace Experiment


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