The Inseparability of Gender Hierarchy, the Just War Tradition, and Authorizing War

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In this chapter, I am interested in the question of the authority of the just war tradition, particularly as it relates to a function of legitimating wars. Particularly, I explore whether the authority of just war tradition is net positive or net negative for international society, normatively or practically. To do this, I look at the gendered narratives of the just war tradition generally and the civilian immunity principle specifically (which I argue are intrinsically interlinked). This chapter, then, starts by identifying a fifth potential telos for just war theorizing in performativity. It then introduces a gender-based approach to understanding just war theorizing, leading into a feminist critique of the non-combatant immunity principle. The next section links a feminist reading of the non-combatant immunity principle to the jus ad bellum deployment of the just war tradition. The chapter then lays out a roadmap for how to evaluate whether these gendered problems with the just war tradition are cosmetic and mutable or fundamental and immutable. I make the case that the gendered pathologies of the non-combatant immunity principle specifically and just war theorizing generally are inseparable both from the tradition and from its role in authorizing or legitimating war(s). Having made the case that, through gendered lenses, the just war tradition is a net liability, the conclusion of this chapter briefly explores potential alternative directions.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationJust War
Subtitle of host publicationAuthority, Tradition, and Practice
EditorsAnthony F Lang Jr, Cian O'Driscoll, John Williams
Place of PublicationWashington, DC
PublisherGeorgetown University Press
Number of pages16
ISBN (Print)9781589019966
Publication statusPublished - 28 Nov 2013


  • gender
  • gender hierarchy
  • just war
  • feminism
  • feminist security studies
  • feminist IR

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