The Concept of “Proportionality” in International Law and the Laws of Armed Conflict

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December 14, 2023 | 2 Comments »

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  1. Few know that the concept of “proportionality in war was originally developed by the 13th centory Catholic theologian Thomas Aqunas. Few people today realize how the writings of this 13th century philosopher and theologeon still have enormous influence on politicians and military leaders today. Specifically, he outrules :rules of war” that he thought all princes should observe when they went to war against neighboring states. One of these rules was the concept of “proportionality”–that the degree of force a prince’s armies should use should be proportionate to severity of the provocations of the state with whom they were at war, aand should not be disproportionate to these provocations. This of course would make it very difficuly for the agressed against state to win the war. That did not bother Thomas, however, since he believed that all wars should be resolved by compromise, and that the former enemies should kiss and make up/

    I have already gone on far too long for the limits Ted sets. But I appeal to him to publish this comment anyway, since I am trying to answer some of the pertinent questions posed by my fellow readers in this space.