PAIR 50th Anniversary Lecture on April 22nd: ‘Cops, Warriors and Revisionist Just War Theory’

Professor Chris Brown, London School of Economics

Wednesday 22nd April 6-7.30pm (58/1067, followed by wine reception).

Abstract: The English common law tradition distinguishes between the role of the police constable and the soldier; the former is an independent legal official, personally liable for his/her actions, while the latter is team player, acting under orders, subject only to the Laws of Armed Conflict (LOAC).  Recently both of these ideal types have come under threat. The militarisation of the police (‘warrior cops’) is a much commented upon phenomenon; less attention has been give to the rise of the ‘Cop Warrior’, where civilian standards of legal and moral responsibility are applied to soldiers in combat zones. Unlike the rise of the Warrior Cop, which happened in response to changing circumstances, the rise of the Cop Warrior is partly the product of shifts that have been defended in philosophical terms and promoted by revisionist just war theorists. These theorists understand war in terms of individual responsibility, subsuming the LOAC under general International Human Rights Law. This is a retrograde step; it loses contact with realities of warfare, and by rejecting the moral equivalence of combatants validates Carl Schmitt’s critique of just war thinking as encouraging a Manichean world-view.

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