[Model Answer QP2022 GS4 Ethics]The Russia and Ukraine war has been going on for the last seven months. Different countries have taken independent stands and actions keeping in view their own national interests. We are all aware that war has its own impact on the different aspects of society, including human tragedy. What are those ethical issues that are crucial to be considered while launching the war and its continuation so far? Illustrate with justification the ethical issues involved in the given state of affair.


The tragedy of war is that it uses Man’s best to do Man’s worst. But not all war is bad because a bad peace is even worse than war. 
However War should be avoided to the maximum because it involves deliberately killing or injuring people, and this is a fundamental wrong – an abuse of the victims’ human rights.

War Ethics:

The most famous way of ethically assessing war is to use ‘Just War Theory’; a tradition going back to St. Augustine in the 5th Century and St. Thomas in the 13th Century. Just War theory considers the reasons for going to war (Jus ad bellum) and the conduct of war (Jus in bello). This distinction is important. A war might be ethical but the means unethical, for instance, using landmines, torture, chemicals and current debate is concerned with drones.

Just War theory sets out principles for a war to be ethical (Jus ad bellum). The war must be:

  1. Just Cause: Just Cause asks for a legitimate and morally weighty reason to go to war.
  2. Waged by a legitimate authority (usually interpreted as states): Legitimate authority restricts the number of agents who may authorize use of force. In the Middle Ages, for example, there was the very real problem that local lords and their private armies would engage in warfare without consulting with, let alone receiving authorization from, the national sovereign.
  3. Public Declaration: The public declaration requirement has both a moral purpose and a legal one. The moral point perhaps is captured better as a requirement for delivery of an ultimatum before initiation of hostilities.
  4. The Just Intent:  The just intent requirement serves to keep the war aims limited and within the context of the just cause used to authorize the war. Every conflict is subject to “mission creep.” Once hostilities commence, there is always the temptation to forget what cause warranted the use of force and to press on to achieve other purposes.
  5. Have a strong probability of success: Because use of force inevitably entails loss of human life, civilian and military, it is a morally grave decision to use it.
  6. Be a last resort: Diplomatic solutions to end conflicts, even if they are less than perfect, are to be preferred to military ones in most, if not all, cases.
  7. Be proportional: Attacks are proportional to the military value of the target.

In addition, there are three principles for conduct in war (Jus in bello):

  1. Discrimination: (distinguishing between enemy combatants and non-combatants)
  2. Proportionality:  (the harms must be proportional to the gains)
  3. Actions must be militarily necessary

India’s Stand on Russia-Ukraine Crisis:

Like any other country, India also retains the right to take policies based on pragmatic realism and its core national interests. 
And India thinks that a neutral position anchored in strategic autonomy which keeps channels open with both sides is what serves its interests.
It does not mean that India supports the war. India had always sought an end to hostilities in Ukraine through bilateral talks and diplomatic solutions.
All war is a symptom of man’s failure as a thinking animal. We should not forget that war does not determine who is right but only who is left. 

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *