In the light of the ongoing political crisis concerning the Ukraine and Syria the issue of justifying military intervention is high on the agenda of international politics. Despite the recent intense political debate, the theoretical discussion about just and unjust military intervention is much older. It reaches back to the texts of classical European philosophers of the early modern period. Already thinkers such as Francisco Suarez, Alberico Gentili, Hugo Grotius and Emer de Vattel referred in their work to this crucial issue of international politics.
For that reason Stefano Recchia, Lecturer in International Relations at Cambridge University, and Jennifer M. Welsh, Professor of International Relations at the European University Institute, have recently published the interdisciplinary volume Just and Unjust Military Intervention. European Thinkers from Vitoria to Mill, Cambridge University Press 2013.
Recchia and Welsh compiled a variety of interesting essays by scholars of international relations as well as historians, which deal with the various positions of classical thinkers concerning military intervention. The central aim of both editors is to show “[…] that contemporary students, scholars, and policymakers, though divided in both time and space from these earlier philosophers and jurist, can still learn a great deal from the questions raised by the classical European thinkers, the problems they highlighted, and even the problematic character of some of the solutions they offered.” (p. 19-20). In the volume various contributors discuss also the concept of humanitarian intervention and show how classical thinkers referred to this issue at different times.
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