When is it right to go to war? Kosovo, Iraq and beyond

Saturday 31 October, 1.30pm until 3.00pm, Henry Moore Gallery

Britain’s string of wars over the past ten years has brought questions of the rights and wrongs of going to war to the forefront of political debate. Ten years ago NATO bombed Yugoslavia to force it to withdraw from the breakaway province of Kosovo, in what the British Prime Minister Tony Blair called a humanitarian ‘war for values’. The 2003 invasion of Iraq was variously described as a campaign of preventive self-defence, or as an intervention to liberate Iraqis from Saddam’s tyranny. The attempt to secure United Nations backing for the Anglo-American invasion also focused attention on the relevance of UN authority and international law to the waging of war.

Today, the chances of another humanitarian intervention being mounted seem diminished because of the chaos that followed the invasion of Iraq. Yet Britain continues to fight a controversial campaign in Afghanistan, based on justifications that range from fighting terrorism to the war on drugs, to supporting women’s rights and Afghan democracy against Taliban oppression. The range of justifications given for Britain’s role in these wars has stoked debate about what it means to fight a just war in the 21st century. Are there valid justifications for waging war beyond those of self-defence and the national interest? Is today’s international environment so different from previous eras that we need to re-think the principles of just war? Does our government bear a ‘responsibility to protect’ individuals and peoples against grave human rights violations by states throughout the world? When is it right to go to war?

Professor Chris Brown
professor, international relations, LSE; author, Understanding International Relations

Dr Philip Cunliffe
senior lecturer in international conflict, University of Kent; co-editor, Politics Without Sovereignty: a critique of contemporary international relations.

Douglas Murray
director, Centre for Social Cohesion; author, Neoconservatism: why we need it; political commentator

Benjamin Tallis
curator of Common Spaces, Fakulta Solidarnosoc; former political and strategic advisor/analyst, EU and Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe

Dr Tara McCormack
lecturer in international politics, University of Leicester; author, Critique, Security and Power: the political limits to emancipatory approaches

Produced by
Dr Philip Cunliffe senior lecturer in international conflict, University of Kent; co-editor, Politics Without Sovereignty: a critique of contemporary international relations.
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