Volume 2, Issue 3, 2015
Lavinia Andreea Bejan
From Moral Responsibility to Legal Responsibility in the Conduct of War
Different societies came to consider certain behaviors as morally wrong, and, in time, due to a more or less general practice, those behaviors have also become legally prohibited. While, nowadays, the existence of legal responsibility of states and individuals for certain reprehensible acts committed during an armed conflict, international or non-international, is hard to be disputed, an inquiry into the manner in which the behavior of the belligerents has come to be considered reveals long discussions in the field of morals and theory of morality, and, especially, regarding the different manner of establishing the elements to whom obedience is rather owed (the divinity, the sovereign, the law) and the relations between these. Hence, the present paper aims at analyzing the connections between moral responsibility and legal responsibility for wrongful behaviur during war in a diachronic approach, along with the major shifts in paradigm (codification and individual liability). Understanding morality as practice, convention, custom, we are arguing that the nowadays requirement of liability for war crimes appeared due to an assumed intention and practice of the decision-making entities (the sovereign, the state) and, ultimately, to a decision-making process of the most influential states.