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School of Government & International Affairs

Staff Profile

Publication details for Professor John Williams

Williams, John (2010). Hedley Bull and Just War: Missed opportunities and lessons to be learned. European Journal of International Relations 16(2): 179-196.

Author(s) from Durham


This article explores the reasons for the absence of a systematic engagement with the tradition of Just War in the political theory of Hedley Bull, despite his recognition of war as a key institution of international society and his engagement with normative aspects of International Relations and the thought of Hugo Grotius, a key figure in the Just War tradition. Developing work arguing for Bull’s highly problematic reading of Grotius, the article considers the impact of philosophical and methodological aspects of Bull’s work to explain his rejection of Just War and to argue that this rejection is neither plausible nor beneficial to Bull’s engagement with war as an institution. Additionally, the article considers the potential for and benefits of engagement between English School theory and the Just War tradition for efforts within the English School to more effectively establish its normative dimension.