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International Journal of Applied Philosophy

Volume 24, Issue 2, Fall 2010

John W. Lango, Eric Patterson
Pages 117-134

South Sudan Independence
Contingency Planning about Just Armed Intervention

We investigate how the just cause principle is applicable to contingency planning about armed interventions in civil wars that are somewhat likely to occur in the future. According to a 2005 peace agreement that formally ended a civil war between the Sudanese government in Khartoum and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, a referendum on South Sudan independence is to be held no later than January 9, 2011. Close observers of Sudan warn that this promise of an independence referendum might not be correctly fulfilled, and that a North-South civil war is somewhat likely to recur. Focusing on the case of Sudan, we discuss the following key question, from the temporal standpoint of August 2010, the month this paper was completed: How may the just cause principle be used prospectively to decide whether there would be a just cause for armed intervention in Sudan, if a renewed North-South civil war were to occur there during the years 2010–2014? To illuminate this question of application, we also discuss a question of theory. What is the just cause principle? A core thesis is that the deterrent threat of armed intervention is an essential tool for preventing such a civil war. By means of deterrent threats of limited forms of armed intervention—for instance, the deterrent threat of imposing no-fly zones—the balance of cost/benefit calculations by the Sudanese government about the prospect of civil war might be tipped in favor of acceptance of South Sudan independence. We recommend that responsible actors in the international community should plan contingently about such armed intervention in Sudan, with the goal of preventing a renewed North-South civil war there.

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