“Peace is the most important global public good. … War brings death, human suffering and unimaginable destruction.” —Antonio Guterres
In the observation in the above epigram, the UN Secretary-General sets up the zero-sum value of war relative to peace. It should not be a profound observation in the 21st century. But, there it is: still sounding so profound. And that says so much about the human condition.
In my view, the invasion of Ukraine occurred partly because the international community has not managed—or resolved—to make wars of aggression sufficiently risky (at the personal level) for the world’s war lords.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine should change that calculation. This can be done by enhancing the legal hazards of war: not only at the more familiar level of criminal prosecution, but also at the level of civil liability that remains largely beyond our consciousness. Both strategies are easy enough to design—but their realisation depends only on the political will of the international community.
I shall presently discuss how to enhance the legal hazards of aggressive war to their authors and accomplices, from the angles of both criminal and civil liability. Read more.