Just War Theory in an African Context

April 4, 2016 - April 5, 2016
University of Johannesburg

Kingsway Campus
Auckland Park
South Africa

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University of Pretoria

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Just War Theory originated largely in a Christian and European context. What might it look like through the lens of characteristically sub-Saharan African values and norms?

Answering this overarching question might involve addressing these: Given a sub-Saharan ethical background, of, say, welfarism, vitalism or communitarianism, would something akin to Just War Theory be justified, or would something more pacifist (or realist) be apt? If something akin to Just War Theory is on the cards, would the idea of just cause be reducible to rebutting aggression? Regardless of that, how would aggression be conceived? How might the good and bad central to the proportionality test be plausibly understood? Might the partiality salient in sub-Saharan ethical thought sensibly influence what counts as proportionate? Would substantial weight be placed on the need for a right intention? Would authorization from the United Nations or some other collective body be considered essential in light of, say, the emphasis African political philosophy has often placed on democratic deliberation when it comes to conflict resolution?

Prof Thaddeus Metz will be convening a one- or two-day workshop at the University of Johannesburg devoted to these and related questions (4-5 April 2016). If you are interested in participating, please send a brief (100 – 300 word) abstract to tmetz@uj.ac.za by 30 November 2015. Workshop proceedings will aim to be published as a special issue of a journal.

Some funding will be available to mitigate the cost of traveling to Johannesburg, particularly for those based in developing countries.

(NB: Empirical discussion of particular wars and military conflicts in Africa is welcome, but only so long as it is done to make a theoretical or philosophical point.)

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