Last resort
in The ethics of war
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The criterion of last resort underlines the primacy of peace over war in just war thinking. In relation to the criterion of last resort the instrumental power of sanctions is a major concern, since what the principle enjoins is the exhaustion of effective alternatives to war. The obligation to employ sanctions or other non-military methods is conditional upon their efficacy. Two methods were employed in an attempt to bring about a non-military resolution of the conflict: economic sanctions and diplomacy. The criticism that the use of military force by the coalition violated the criterion of last resort relies for much of its persuasive force on an assumed moral superiority of sanctions or blockade over war. The moral superiority of sanctions is open to further question if we consider the issue of discrimination.

The ethics of war

Second edition

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