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Constraining war: Human security and the Human right to peace

  • Hayden, Patrick
Published Article
Human Rights Review
Publication Date
Oct 01, 2004
DOI: 10.1007/s12142-004-1035-z
Springer Nature


The explicit articulation of a cosmopolitan conception of human security and a corresponding right to peace is a positive development in global politics, inasmuch as it decenters the state in our understanding of the human community and delegitimizes organized violence as the generally accepted means for the “continuation” of realist politics. I have argued that just war theory, when defined in suitably narrow fashion, helps to contribute to our thinking on issues of human security in several ways. First, it provides a stringent normative framework for a reasonable humanitarian justification of the resort to force. Second, it enables us to conceptualize significant moral and legal constraints on war and thus on the powers of states to wage war, thereby displacing the use of force from the statist paradigm of security. Third, it contributes to the delegitimation of unjust wars, that is, military actions undertaken for any purposes other than human security. Fourth, insofar as it provides a justificatory basis for the increasing demilitarization of society, it may influence the progressive and just pacification of global politics. As long as the types of human wrongs that present the gravest threats to human security continue to haunt the global community, there remains a need to be able to respond effectively so as to protect the rights and well-being of individuals. This need poses a genuine dilemma for humanitarian morality and politics, insofar as many of the military capabilities required to defend and to aid vulnerable persons can also be the source of threats to human life and welfare. Yet the existence of this dilemma need not lead us either to apathy or to cynicism. The nexus of human security, the right to peace, and just war theory offers a resolution to the traditional security dilemma by challenging the realist rationale for aggressive militarism, and by supporting the emergence of global security structures and processes guided by the humanitarian norms of just peace. *** DIRECT SUPPORT *** A28BB021 00002

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