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Proportionality (in War)

  1. Adil Ahmad Haque

Published Online: 1 FEB 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781444367072.wbiee399

The International Encyclopedia of Ethics

How to Cite

Haque, A. A. 2013. Proportionality (in War). The International Encyclopedia of Ethics. .

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 1 FEB 2013


Proportionality imposes moral and legal constraints on at least two aspects of the use of force by parties to an armed conflict (see War). First, proportionality is part of jus ad bellum, the moral and legal norms which constrain the initial resort to armed force, as well as the continuation of armed conflict. Second, proportionality is part of jus in bello, the moral and legal norms which regulate the conduct of hostilities. In both contexts, proportionality judgments depend on an evaluation of the relevant harms and relevant benefits brought about by military force; a standard specifying whether and to what extent the benefits must outweigh the harms or vice versa; as well as external variables, such as intention, national identity, and responsibility, which may alter the moral significance of the harms and benefits or the applicable standard of comparison (Hurka 2005).


  • ethics;
  • war and conflict