Jus post bellum

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Jus post bellum (Latin for "Justice after war") is a concept that deals with the morality of the termination phase of war. The idea has some historical pedigree as a concept in just war theory.[1] In modern times, it has been developed by a number of just war theorists and international lawyers.[2] However, the concept means different things to the contributors in each field. For lawyers, the concept is much less clearly defined and many have rejected the usefulness of the concept altogether.[3]

Brian Orend is usually considered the initiator of the debate. He argued that just war theory was incomplete in dealing only with the morality of using force (jus ad bellum) and the morality of conduct during war (jus in bello). He said that a third branch of just war theory had been overlooked. He cited Immanuel Kant as the first to consider a three-pronged approach to the morality of armed conflict.[4]

Those interested in the jus post bellum must also consider the lex pacificatoria.[5]


The purpose of the concept and its usefulness depends on whether it is considered as a moral or a legal concept. Its usefulness as a matter of law is very unclear. As a concept in just war theory, the jus post bellum debate considers a number of issues.

  • Provide terms for the end of war; once the rights of a political community have been vindicated, further continuation of war becomes an act of aggression.
  • Provide guidelines for the construction of peace treaties.
  • Provide guidelines for the political reconstruction of defeated states.
  • Prevent draconian and vengeful peace terms; the rights a just state fights for in a war provide the constraints on what can be demanded from the defeated belligerent.

Just Settlement of a Just War[edit]

The following is a list of items that would be permissible for a just settlement for a just war:

  • Unjust gains from aggression must be eliminated
  • Punishment against the aggressor in two forms:
    • Compensation to/for the victim for losses incurred
    • War crime trials for the aggressor
  • Security for the victim against future attack in the form of demilitarization or political rehabilitation
  • Terms for settlement should be measured and reasonable ruling out unconditional surrenders
  • Terms for settlement should be made public
  • Leaders, soldiers, and civilians must be distinguished
    • Leaders of the aggressor must face fair and public war crime trials, if necessary
    • Soldiers from all sides of the conflict must be held accountable for war crimes
    • Civilians must be reasonably immune from punitive measures ruling out sweeping socio-economic sanctions

See also[edit]


  • Allman, Mark J. and Winright, Tobias L. "Jus Post Bellum: Extending the Just War Theory" in Faith in Public Life, College Theology Society Annual Volume 53, 2007 (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2008), 241-264
  • Allman, Mark J. and Winright, Tobias L. After the Smoke Clears: The Just War Tradition and Post War Justice (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2010)
  • DiMeglio, Richard P. "The Evolution of the Just War Tradition: Defining Jus Post Bellum" Military Law Review (2006), Vol. 186, pp. 116-163.
  • Orend, Brian. "Justice after War" in Ethics & International Affairs, Volume 16.1 (Spring 2002)
  • Österdahl, Inger (2012). "Just War, Just Peace and the Jus post Bellum". Nordic Journal of International Law. 81 (3): 271–294. ISSN 0902-7351.