Peace and War

Mary Ellen O'Connell

in The Oxford Handbook of the History of International Law

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780199599752
Published online December 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Law

Peace and War

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Law is valued for providing an alternative to the use of force in the ordering of human affairs. In this sense, all of international law is law of peace, peace being the antithesis of force, violence, and armed conflict. The United Nations Charter, adopted in 1945, forms the basis of the contemporary peace regime. This chapter examines the Charter with the Just War Doctrine created by natural law theorists, drawing on early Christian and Jewish thought, as well as classical Greek and Roman philosophy. It considers the rise of positivism in the 18th century, the associated decline of natural law theory, and the crisis that resulted respecting legal controls on resort to force in the absence of positive law. The international community has since developed positive law respecting peace, but as mere positive law, these restraints have been open to challenge over the ranking of value preferences.

Keywords: law of peace; international law; United Nations Charter; non-violence; positivism; natural law theory; Just War Doctrine

Article.  10660 words. 

Subjects: Law ; History of Law ; International Law

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