Cosmopolitan “No-Harm” Duty in Warfare: Exposing the Utilitarian Pretence of Universalism

Athena 2 (1):116-151 (2022)
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This article demonstrates a priori cosmopolitan values of restraint and harm limitation exist to establish a cosmopolitan “no-harm” duty in warfare, predating utilitarianism and permeating modern international humanitarian law. In doing so, the author exposes the atemporal and ahistorical nature of utilitarianism which introduces chaos and brutality into the international legal system. Part 2 conceptualises the duty as derived from the “no-harm” principle under international environmental law. Part 3 frames the discussion within legal pluralism and cosmopolitan ethics, arguing that divergent legal jurisdictions without an international authority necessitates a “public international sphere” to mediate differences leading to strong value-commitment norm-creation. One such norm is the “no-harm” duty in warfare. Part 4 traces the duty to the Stoics, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, African traditional culture, Hinduism, and Confucianism. Parts 5 and 6 explain how the duty manifests in principles of distinction and proportionality under international humanitarian law.

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Ozlem Ulgen
Nottingham University


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