Library Header Image
LSE Research Online LSE Library Services

The 21st-century belligerent’s trilemma

Dill, Janina (2015) The 21st-century belligerent’s trilemma. European Journal of International Law, 26 (1). pp. 83-108. ISSN 0938-5428

Full text not available from this repository.
Identification Number: 10.1093/ejil/chv005


This article introduces three ways in which a state at war can attempt to accommodate the often contradictory demands of military necessity and humanitarianism – three ‘logics’ of waging war. The logics of sufficiency, efficiency and moral liability differently distribute the harm and destruction that waging war inevitably causes. International law demands belligerents follow the logic of sufficiency. Contemporary strategic imperatives, to the contrary, put a premium on waging war efficiently. Cross-culturally shared expectations of proper state conduct, however, mean killing in war ought to fit the logic of moral liability. The latter proves entirely impractic able. Hence, a belligerent faces a choice: (i) renounce the right and capacity to use large-scale collective force in order to meet public expectations of morally appropriate state conduct (logic of liability); (ii) defy those expectations as well as international law and follow strategic im peratives (logic of efficiency) and (iii) follow international law (logic of sufficiency), which is inefficient and will be perceived as illegitimate. This is the 21st-century belligerent’s trilemma.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2015 The Author
Divisions: International Relations
Subjects: J Political Science > JX International law
U Military Science > U Military Science (General)
Date Deposited: 07 Mar 2017 11:08
Last Modified: 05 Jun 2024 05:48

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item