Start: second week of lectures
Many issues in international relations are ethical in nature. Decisions about war and peace require particular ethical sensitivity. Beyond simplistic political and media rhetoric, decision-makers are repeatedly faced with difficult trade-offs and dilemmas. Legal norms, moral values and national or organizational interests are in conflict and must be reconciled. Often, they also intricately interact and overlap. Legality and legitimacy are then of the highly contested. This requires prioritization at the cost of painful compromises. The seminar is designed to address such borderline issues, to reveal the trade-offs and to guide differentiated, independent judgments.
After an initial conceptual enquiry into the interaction of interests, norms and values, in particular concerning armed conflict, we will discuss concrete issues of war and peace in their ethical dimension. We distinguish three overarching topics: balancing interests, norms and values for or against the use of force (called ius ad bellum in international law of war) – balancing interests, norms and values during warfare (ius in bello) – and balancing interests, norms and values after violent conflict has ended (ius post bellum). Each session we debate an ethical challenge and apply our thoughts to a concrete case. Formats will vary. Often, two seminar participants will initially present a controversial ethical position on the topic. These positions should differ as much as possible. The seminar then debates these positions jointly and tries to reach a joint position. Alternatively, we split up into two groups taking opposed positions on a topic and present plus discuss the positions. We assess how much our positions changed due to the seminar discussion. Potential topics include:
- Supplying weapons to parties in conflict – Ukraine vs. Yemen
- Intervening to save secessionists from gross human rights violations – the case of Kosovo
- Pre-emptive strikes to prevent "rogue states" from attaining nuclear weapons? The case of North Korea
- Humanitarian intervention even without UN Security Council authorization? The case of Syria
- Humanitarian aid for international pariah states? International assistance after the earthquake in Syria (and Turkey) 2023
- The selective application of international law to conflict – international tribunals also for great powers and their leaders? Putin vs. Milosevic
- Torture - a legitimate tool to prevent terrorist attacks? The practice of waterboarding
- Targeted killing - a legitimate tool to eliminate terrorists? The case of Osama bin Laden
- Land swaps in ethnic conflicts – bringing peace or legitimizing ethnic cleansing? The Dayton Peace Accords on Bosnia
- Drone war – ethical implications of innovations in military technology
- Post-conflict reconciliation - amnesty, amnesia or tribunal? The case of Chile
Some topics will be jointly identified in a brainstorming at the beginning of the seminar.
- Bellamy, Alex J. (2006), Just wars: from Cicero to Iraq, Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press
- Biermann, Rafael (ed.), Roundtable “Balancing Legal Norms, Moral Values and National Interests”, in: Ethics & International Affairs, 33:1, 2019.
- Fleck, Dieter (Ed.) 2008, The Handbook of International Humanitarian Law, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- Holzgrefe, J.L./ Keohane, Robert O., (Eds.) 2003, Humanitarian Intervention. Ethical, Legal, and Political Dilemmas, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- Reus-Smit, Christian, and Duncan Snidal (eds., 2008), The Oxford Handbook of International Relations, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- Werkner, Ines-Jacqueline, and Klaus Ebeling (eds., 2017), Handbuch Friedensethik, Wiesbaden: Springer VS.
- Wiener, Antje (2017), A Theory of Contestation – a Concise Summery of Its Argument and Concepts, in: Polity, 49:1, S. 109-125.