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 Justifications and conditions for war

These were put forward by General Sir Hugh Beach CBE, KCB, MC in his Lecture to the “Preparing for Peace” Project on July 14th, 2001. 


General Beach saw action in the Second World War in France and the East Indies. After the war he rose to be Commander of the 12th Infantry Brigade, Commandant of the Ministry of Defence Staff College, then Deputy Commander-in-Chief of Land Forces in the UK, Master-General of the Ordinance and Chief Royal Engineer.

Since retiring from the army he has been a member of the Churches Together in Britain and Ireland Peace Forum, a member of the Council for Christian Approaches to Defence and Disarmament, a leading figure in the campaign against land-mines and a speaker and writer on peace and disarmament issues.


Justifications for war:

  1. Self-defence

  2. Deterrence

  3. Humanitarian intervention


Under 3, Humanitarian intervention as a justification for military action, Beach laid out seven conditions for justifiable military action on humanitarian grounds:

  1. Just Cause  –to correct a serious aggression or breach of human rights of large numbers of people

  2. Legitimate authority  –Only a recognised international authority may go to war

  3. Right intention  -carrying out the aim of the war, not going any further.

  4. Probability of success  -there is no point in waging a futile war

  5. Last resort   -force can be used only after all peaceful alternatives have been tried and have failed

  6. Proportionality   -the overall destruction resulting from the military action must be outweighed by the good achieved

    7.   Care for civilian lives   -Civilians must not be the object of direct attack and every care must be taken not to 

          harm civilians.


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