Paperback / softback
May 26, 2023
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v2.1 Reference

Justice after War

Jus Post Bellum in the 21st Century

Justice After War is aimed especially to both undergraduate and graduate students, as well as the general audience who want to understand the significance of a recent development within the just war tradition, namely, the increasing attention given to the category of jus post bellum (postwar justice and peace). While examining the interrelated challenges of moral and social norms in both political and legal domains, as well as church practices, this work proposes an innovative methodology for linking theology, ethics, and social science so that the ideal and the real can inform each other in the ethics of war and peacebuilding. The main task of this project, then, is to identify what the author views as three key themes of jus post bellum, and three practices that are essential to implementing jus post bellum immediately after a war: just policing, just punishment, and just political participation.

David Kwon endeavors to challenge the view of those who suggest that reconciliation, mainly political reconciliation, is the foremost ambition of jus post bellum. Instead, he attempts to justify the proposition that achieving just policing, just punishment, and just political participation are essential to building a just peace, a peace in which the fundamental characteristic must be human security. It thus demonstrates that human security is an oft-neglected theme in the recent discourse of moral theologians and that a more balanced understanding of jus post bellum will direct attention to the elements composing human security in a postwar context.

About the Author

David Chiwon Kwon is assistant professor of moral theology, Seattle University. Kenneth R. Himes, OFM, is professor of theology, Boston College.


"The idea is as old as Augustine and Thomas Aquinas that the purpose of a just war is a just peace. In recent decades, not military victory but rather establishing peace and stability – and justice – has become the practically thorniest and most ethically challenging of foreign policy dilemmas. Think only of Iraq and Afghanistan. Few theorists of the just war, though, have offered a thorough and satisfactory account of jus post bellum. Theologian David Kwon now offers what is needed: a full and grounded theory of justice after war, one that looks historically to the best insights of the just war tradition as well as contemporaneously at efforts at creating peace in the wake of conflict and at the work of scholars and practitioners of peacebuilding and reconciliation. Kwon's argument, centering on human security and proffering three attendant practices, just policing, just punishment, and just political participation, likely will become the standard point of reference for readers considering this question. While Kwon's arguments are accessible to all, he also thinks distinctively as a Catholic theologian, looking to the Church as a player, not just a source of doctrine, in the practice of peacebuilding."—Daniel Philpott, University of Notre Dame

"David Kwon's existentially powerful and intellectually incisive book holds all theorists, policy makers and activists accountable to the horrific suffering war brings, even after peace accords. Theologians are often better prophets than peacemakers. They need clarity on strategies that actually can bring peace. Justice after War elucidates what love and justice must accomplish politically in the real-world aftermath of war. This landmark analysis is indispensable to all Christian just war theorists and peacebuilders who want to know how to set the stage for long-term and sustainable peace."—Lisa Sowle Cahill, J. Donald Monan, S.J. Professor of Theology, Boston College, and author of Blessed Are the Peacemakers

"Justice after War is a remarkable book. It offers the reader the opportunity to perceive the complexity of the topic of postwar justice through a Christian lens and with a nuanced approach to the Church's social teaching. As a psychologist and the president of a Catholic university, I see the need for such a book and its usefulness in any number of courses and professions, such as social services and psychology, law, and any studies where justice is explored."—Very Reverend James Patrick Burns, IVD, President, Saint Mary's University of Minnesota

"Much has been written about determining justifications for going to war and the proper conduct for fighting wars. Much less attention has been paid to the responsibilities of rebuilding and protecting fragile societies devastated by war. David Kwon tackles this critical subject from a Christian perspective. Drawing from classical texts and contemporary scholars, Kwon provides a valuable and insightful analysis that will be welcomed by scholars, theologians, students and policymakers."—Steven R. David, Johns Hopkins University

"In this well-researched work, David Kwon makes a compelling case for why jus post bellum is integral to modern discussions of just war ethics. Building upon his rich conversation with diverse philosophical and theological perspectives on the topic, Kwon presents his own insightful perspective on the ethics of jus post bellum in a fresh and relevant way to our post-Cold War, globalizing contexts. Justice after War is a highly timely book that deserves the attention of scholars, educators, and policymakers when the globalizing world is facing increasing political and economic insecurity and widespread violence and conflicts."—Hak Joon Lee, Ph.D., Lewis B. Smedes Professor of Christian Ethics at Fuller Theological Seminary

"Traditional Just War theory has focused on justice before and during war. Little has been said about justice after the war (jus post bellum). Justice after War is a superb study of this third aspect; it promises to be a classic in the field. With this book, David Kwon establishes himself as one of the foremost experts on the Just War tradition. I most enthusiastically recommend it to both students of moral theology and national and international policymakers.""—Peter C. Phan, The Ignacio Ellacuria, SJ Chair of Catholic Social Thought, Georgetown University

"Dr. Kwon gives us a book that is systematic in its treatment of lineages of arguments and schools of thought in just war theory, comprehensive in its analysis of classic and contemporary scholarly sources, erudite in its depth, and wise in its conclusions. His Justice after War is at once a fine introduction to its subject matter and a robust thesis about it."—Paulo Barrozo, Boston College Law School

"This is an excellent book—David Kwon illuminates the extensive theological and philosophical debate about jus post bellum by carefully and critically examining the main proposals in the literature, and he argues for primary attention to human security in the immediate aftermath of war along with political reconciliation. I recommend it with enthusiasm."—James F. Childress, Professor Emeritus, University of Virginia, and founding Director of the Institute for Practical Ethics and Public Life

"David Kwon masterfully approaches the great thinkers of just war, postwar justice, and peace theory with his own well-researched and well-reasoned understanding. David not only understands the just war thinkers, peace scholars, and justice after war writers theoretically, but importantly he has a grasp on and recommendations for practical applications for a kind of rapprochement between these areas. This is a must-read for anyone interested in justice, peace and reconciliation, and war and its aftermath as well as ethical approaches to these issues. It is also an incredibly important work for all of us who want to learn more about just war, human security, peace, and justice after war, along with helpful reconciliation efforts and how to be an agent of transformation in these areas."—Drew Christiansen, SJ , Distinguished Professor of Ethics and Human Development, Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University

"What is justice in the horrific aftermath of war? David Kwon's lucid interpretation of the philosophical and theological issues at stake in this question enables him to engage the concrete decisions of foreign policy and religious mission that confront the contemporary world. Justice after War incisively evokes the reader's ethical deliberation of a global crisis."—W. Clark Gilpin, Margaret E. Burton Professor of the History of Christianity, emeritus, The University of Chicago Divinity School

"In this substantial and resourceful study, David Kwon advances our understanding of justice after war. Though mainly concerned to develop postwar justice from a Christian theological point of view, Kwon draws broadly from various contributors to the literature, and articulates both theoretical and applied insights into today's problems—with policing, punishment, and political reconstruction—inherent in post-conflict situations. Well-organized, erudite, and enjoyable, this is an important contribution to the crucial discourse surrounding what to do as societies move from war to peace."—Brian Orend, Professor of Philosophy and Director of International Studies, University of Waterloo, Canada, and author of The Morality of War

"David Kwon offers a welcome and much needed contribution to the development of postwar ethics. He carefully and charitably engages the preliminary attempts of others, including myself, as he constructively provides a more systematic and coherent account of jus post bellum. Bridging theology, ethics, and other disciplines—as well as theory and practice—Kwon's work is to be commended."—Tobias Winright, St Patrick's Pontifical University, Maynooth, Ireland, and author of After the Smoke Clears

"How to transit from war to peace while keeping justice intact is a crucial question for our day. Drawing insight from moral theology and the experience of practitioners, this book adopts a holistic approach toward navigating the competing demands of postwar peacebuilding. In so doing, it provides superb guidance in this challenging domain."—Gregory M. Reichberg, Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO), and author of Thomas Aquinas on War and Peace

9780813236513 : justice-after-war-kwon
Paperback / softback
306 Pages
$29.95 USD

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