Asymmetric Wars, International Relations, and the Just War Theory

The conference was organized in cooperation with Serbian Philosophical Society and University of Belgrade as 11th conference within the project “International Law and Ethics Conference Series (ILECS)”. The conference focused on Just War Theory in an attempt to understand the phenomenon of war in its moral, legal, political, historical and other aspects.

In this age of the overarching globalization and increased public sensitivity, conflict resolution is becoming more and more demanding both in terms of its goals and its techniques. The war has become almost forbidden, and old schemes of justifying wars no longer appear satisfying. Justifying war always seemed to be a hopeless task: at the same time impossible and necessary. Being tragic and often also absurd throughout the history, war is now facing the challenge of a change its very definition. Its nature of unpredictability and irreversibility, its constitutive rules of victory and defeat, seem to be in the process of an extensive change, with new aspects and issues emerging: criminalization of war, new ways of justifying military interventions, and a huge set of instruments of justifying “asymmetric wars”, “wars on terror”, pre-emptive and preventive wars, peace-making and peace-keeping activities, regime change strategies, etc. Just War Theory and its justificatory capacity is (again) at the crossroad: is it a new chance to further its development, or a sign of its end? These and other issues regarding contemporary debate about the war are worth further exploration from the philosophical point of view.

Organizing committee:
-Jovan Babić (University of Belgrade); Yitzhak Benbaji (Bar Ilan University); Petar Bojanić (University of Belgrade)

Michael Walzer (Princeton, USA), Nancy Sherman (Georgetown & U.S. Naval Academy, USA), Igor Primoratz (Melbourne, Australia), David Rodin (Oxford, UK), Judith Lichtenberg (Georgetown, USA), Nicholas Fotion (Emory, USA), David Luban (Georgetown, USA), Michael Gross (Haifa, Israel), Sharon Anderson-Gold (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, USA), Paul Gilbert (Hull, UK), Uwe Steinhoff (HKU, Hong Kong), Daniel Statman (Haiffa, Israel), Yitzak Benbaji (Bar Ilan, Israel), Helen Frowe (Sheffield, UK), Seth Lazar (Oxford, UK).

Thursday, June 17th

Morning, 1st Just War Theory – Session devoted to Michael Walzer Chair, Jovan Babic (Faculty for philosophy, Belgrade)

9:00 – Opening Ceremony: Tibor Sabo (Ministry of Science of Serbia), Branko Kovacevic (Rector of the Belgrade University), Ivan Vejvoda (German Marshall Fund), Yair Frommer (Deputy Ambassador of Israel to Serbia)


Michael Walzer (Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, USA)
Aftermath of War: Reflections on Jus Post Bellum


Nancy Sherman (Georgetown, Former Distinguished Chair in Ethics, U.S. Naval Academy, USA)
The Guilt They Carry


Igor Primoratz (Melbourne, Australia)
Civilian Immunity, Supreme Emergency, and Moral Disaster

Afternoon, 2nd Session: New Wars and Just War Theory Chair: Yitzhak Benbaji


David Rodin (Oxford, UK)
Non-Combatant Immunity in Assymmetric Just War Theory: Is Moral Responsibility for Unjust Harm Sufficient for Liability to Force?


Judith Lichtenberg (Georgetown, USA)
Is the War Convention a Convention?


Nicholas Fotion (Emory, USA)
Just War Theory: Not Quite Dead Yet


Jovan Babic (Belgrade, Serbia)
Ethics of War and Just-War Theory

Friday, June 18th, Morning, 3rd Session: Asymmetric War Chair: Petar Bojanic


Daniel Statman (Haifa, Israel)
Supreme Emergencies and the Continuum Problem


Yitzhak Benbaji (Bar Ilan, Israel)
Terrorism and Asymmetric Wars: A Contractarian Analysis


Seth Lazar (Oxford, UK)
Asymmetric Warfare and Noncombatant Immunity


Afternoon, 4th Session: Guilt and Innocence in Asymmetric War, Chair: Vojin Rakic


David Luban (Georgetown, USA)
War without Vindication


Michael Gross (Haifa, Israel)
What’s Wrong with Human Shields?


Uwe Steinhoff (HKU, Hong Kong)
In Defence of Warlords

Saturday, June 19th, Morning, 5th Session: International Relations, Ethics of War and Peace, Chair: Milorad Stupar


Sharon Anderson-Gold (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, USA)
The Kant and the Unjust Enemy


Helen Frowe (Sheffield, UK)
Non-combatants in war


Paul Gilbert (Hull, UK)
New Laws for New Wars: what Role for the Ethical Expert?