Just Policing and the Responsibility to Protect


The Background to Responsibility to the Protect

Brian Steidle, a former United States Marine captain who served in Kosovo and who is now a human rights activist, journalist and photographer shares the following experience from when he served as a monitor for the African Union in the Darfur region of western Sudan:

Ahmed and I headed toward a large nim tree on the outskirts of Wash al tool, where 250 homeless women and children had stopped earlier in the day to share in the small piece of shade. They had escaped the initial conflict in Alliet, a town of 15,000 we had just visited. The village was the most recent to fall prey to Government of Sudan troops in what was now described by Western diplomats – publicly, if belatedly – as genocide …

The baby's breathing was labored, and she was wheezing noticeably. Upon closer inspection, I realized that this tiny human being had been shot in the back – the child had gaping entry and exit wounds that accentuated her struggle to breathe. Her guardian looked up at me with a blank gaze.

“What's her name?” I stammered, my sense of disbelief audible in my tone.

“Mihad Hamid”, she said after a quick translation of my question.1

… In Baraka, 10 villagers had been tortured and brutally murdered by the Janjaweed … Several bloody corpses filled a shallow grave. They were lined up in a row and covered with grass mats. Images from the Holocaust and Rwanda filled my mind. I looked closer. Every single man in this countless row of African civilians had had his eyes plucked out and his ears cut off.2

During that six-month stint as one of three United States military observers assigned to Darfur, Steidle witnessed many horrific atrocities, which are documented in his book, The Devil Came on Horseback. The title refers to the Janjaweed, a faction accused of much of the genocide in Darfur. According to the United Nations, 200,000 people have been killed, 2.5 million have been driven from their homes to refugee camps, and 4 million have been directly affected by the conflict in the Darfur region of Sudan and neighbouring Chad.3 In view of such crimes against humanity, a new international norm, “the responsibility to protect” (R2P), has emerged.

The phrase first appeared in a 2001 report by that title4 issued by the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty, an initiative of the Canadian government to reflect on how to move beyond the moral and jurisprudential obstacles surrounding what was referred to as “humanitarian intervention” during the 1990s in connection with “the kinds of catastrophic assaults on individuals and communities that the world has witnessed”5 in countries such as Rwanda, Bosnia and Kosovo. The United Nations subsequently studied this proposal, and at the 2005 World Summit, member states endorsed R2P. A report in January 2009 from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on “Implementing the Responsibility to Protect” led to further debate, and a resolution by the General Assembly in July 2009 committed the body to more discussion of R2P.6

For its part, the World Council of Churches (WCC), as a component of its Decade to Overcome Violence, has studied, debated and come to affirm R2P. The recommendations of a report from the Commission of the Churches on International Affairs under the title “The Responsibility to Protect: Ethical and Theological Reflections” were endorsed by the WCC central committee in 2003. This was followed by the adoption in February 2006 of the statement “Vulnerable Populations at Risk: Statement on the Responsibility to Protect”, during the WCC's ninth assembly at Porto Alegre, Brazil.7 Most recently, in 2009, the WCC invoked R2P to spark international concern about Israel's actions in Gaza.8 The Roman Catholic Church also has begun to refer to R2P, with Pope Benedict XVI mentioning it in his address to the General Assembly of the UN on 18 April 2008 and, more recently, in his major social encyclical Caritas in Veritate, which was issued on 29 June 2009, calling for R2P's implementation.9 Although there certainly continues to be debate about the concept in the international public square as well as within the churches, R2P seems to be gaining purchase as we embark upon this second decade of the 21st century.10

Gareth Evans, who conducted pioneering work on R2P, believes it provides a “new way of talking about the whole issue of humanitarian intervention”.11 R2P nuances and qualifies national sovereignty, which is no longer understood as an absolute right to non-interference. Instead, state sovereignty entails responsibilities on the part of a nation to its own citizens; however, if a state fails to fulfill its primary responsibility to protect its own citizens, this responsibility transfers to the international community. The focus, as former WCC general secretary Konrad Raiser puts it, is on “the human security of all people everywhere”, especially those most at risk.12 R2P seeks to prevent and stop four crimes – genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and ethnic cleansing – and involves three primary obligations: the responsibility to prevent (addressing the root and direct causes of conflict putting populations at risk); the responsibility to react (responding to egregious threats to human security through appropriate measures, including coercive measures such as sanctions and, in extreme cases, forceful military intervention); and the responsibility to rebuild (assisting with recovery, reconstruction and reconciliation, as well as addressing the causes of the threat that the intervention averted or stopped).

A 2001statement, “The Protection of Endangered Populations in Situations of Armed Violence: Toward an Ecumenical Ethical Approach”, presented to the WCC Central Committee, emphasized a Christian ethic of “just peacemaking” to prevent conflict, build peace, resolve disputes and reconcile adversaries.13 This paradigm was made popular in recent years by American Baptist ethicist Glen Stassen, whose edited book14 contains essays exploring ten proactive practices that have been empirically shown as realistic and effective for preventing wars, whether between or within nations. These include non-violent direct action, cooperative conflict resolution, advancing democracy and human rights, fostering just and sustainable economic development, strengthening the United Nations and other international efforts and institutions, and more. As this new paradigm has gained traction among churches in the WCC, they now “agree on one thing: the importance of preventive efforts designed to avoid or tackle a crisis before it escalates”.15

The 2001 statement from the WCC Central Committee, however, noted an ongoing debate that “revealed clearly the different theological perspectives among member churches with respect to violence and non-violence”.16 Four years later, Evans observed that “the question of military action remains, for better or worse, the most prominent and controversial one in the debate”.17 In particular, Christians who emphasize nonviolence – especially those in the historic peace churches – remain reluctant to express their support for the use of force to protect the vulnerable.18 This attitude should not be surprising, given that similar disagreement lingered among the contributors, consisting of both pacifists and proponents of just war, to Stassen's volume on just peacemaking. The chapter that sparked the most controversy was written by Michael Joseph Smith, a professor of government and foreign affairs at the University of Virginia. In language very similar to R2P, he called for the strengthening of the UN by developing “the capacity to identify, prevent, and, if necessary, intervene in conflicts within and between states that threaten basic human rights”.19 Although a consensus was reached about the importance of just peacemaking practices, unanimity was not achieved concerning the possible legitimacy of forceful interventions. So, too, it appears, is this the case at present among WCC members concerning R2P.20

In an effort to get beyond this impasse, some – including members of the historic peace churches – have suggested that viewing R2P as a form of policing rather than a military action might offer a fruitful avenue to pursue. The Mennonite Ernie Regehr writes, “Just as individuals and communities in stable and affluent societies are able in emergencies to call on armed police to come to their aid when they experience unusual or extraordinary threats of violence or attack, churches recognize that people in much more perilous circumstances should have access to protectors.”21 Indeed, the 2006 WCC statement from Porto Alegre quotes this line almost verbatim and goes on to posit that force “deployed and used for humanitarian purposes” should be seen as “more related to just policing” than to “military war-fighting”.22 To be sure, similar calls for a “police” rather than a “war” approach to dealing with terrorism arose from a number of prominent Christian writers in the wake of the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. Jim Wallis, the editor-in-chief of Sojourners magazine, admonished US Christians to view the terrorist bombings as a “crime against humanity” that should be addressed by “global police” responsible for preventing future threats and defending innocent lives.23

Likewise, Stanley Hauerwas, an influential pacifist Christian theologian, said that he “would certainly like to start envisioning the possibility of that kind of police force” as a “good” alternative to war.24 Some notable just war experts also suggested that a police approach might be more appropriate for dealing with the threat of terrorism.25 Political theorist Michael Walzer refers to such appeals to a “police” approach as an alternative to military action as the “‘dial 911’ response to 9/11”.26

Such appeals are curious given that little serious attention has been paid within the churches and the discipline of theological ethics to the ethics of policing, especially with regard to the use of lethal force. As Christian ethicist Edward LeRoy Long, Jr. has noted, “One can go through the indices of book after book in the field and find no entries for either law enforcement or police work. In comparison with the immense amount of thinking about the problem of war and the moral issues surrounding military service, this lacuna is telling.”27 Therefore, before drawing parallels between R2P and policing in order to generate further consensus among Christians and churches in the WCC, careful consideration must first be given to the ethics of policing. In what follows, I will argue that similarities do indeed exist between R2P and “just policing”; however, I will also show that this model of policing retains the possibility for the legitimate use of force – in accordance with strict rules governing such use of force that are analogous to those found in just war reasoning. It may therefore be unlikely to persuade all those within the WCC fellowship who have negative views about R2P to change their opinion. Nevertheless, while pacifists may not be able to participate in actions resembling policing, especially when lethal force may be involved, there may be ways in which they can support efforts by others to make just war more like policing.

Models of Policing

Simply invoking an analogy with the police is insufficient, for surely not all policing is ethical. No Christian ethicist or church, for example, would morally defend a police state and its totalitarian oppression. There are also many police institutions around the globe that are viewed as corrupt and untrustworthy by citizens, such as in El Salvador and Afghanistan.28 Nor is all police use of force necessarily moral, as evinced by the excessive force and police brutality associated, for instance, with the famous Rodney King beating by Los Angeles police officers in 1991. When reference is made to the police, therefore, we need to be clear about the kind of policing we have in mind. That the 2006 WCC statement on R2P from Porto Alegre specifies “just policing” indicates some awareness of this point. It is important to clarify this issue because some objections to R2P from persons in the historic peace churches hinge on the view that policing is still about violence and thus no more moral than war-fighting.29

One approach to policing often correlated with violence is known as the “crime fighter” or “military” model. John Kleinig, a philosopher who specializes in police ethics, describes how this type of policing, which regards the use of force as its raison d'être, came to the fore during the 20th century, especially in the United States.30 Similarly, criminologist Egon Bittner observes, “The conception of the police as a quasi-military institution with a war-like mission plays an important part in the structuring of police work in modern American police departments”.31 Not only do American police tend to regard themselves as crime fighters in the war on crime, but, as criminologists Jerome Skolnick and James Fyfe note, the “military metaphor also colors the public's expectations of the police”.32 Such an approach emphasizes “the primacy of force in coping with crime and criminals”.33 While the crime fighter model of policing revolves around the use of force, it also colours police officers' attitudes towards others. In this approach, an “us versus them” attitude tends to come into play.34 Everyone is viewed as a potential “enemy”. This makes it easier, warns Paul Chevigny, for police “to abuse those who are the enemy, easier even to kill or torture them”.35 Indeed, Skolnick and Fyfe claim a “causal connection” exists between “the idea that cops are like soldiers in wars on crime” and the use of excessive force, and believe that the war model of policing constitutes “a major cause of police violence and the violation of citizens' rights”.36 Obviously, this model cannot be what Christian ethicists and churches have in mind when suggesting policing as a way to make R2P more acceptable to WCC members.

Other models exist that are purported to be less violent. Kleinig, for example, proposes the “social peacekeeper” approach to policing.37 Elements of this model have been implemented in recent decades, including in the United States, in what have been commonly referred to as community policing or problem-oriented policing.38 Most recently, in their The Police in War: Fighting Insurgency, Terrorism, and Violent Crime, which examines the need for policing in the immediate aftermath of conflict, David H. Bayley and Robert M. Perito refer to this basic approach, which they advocate, as “core policing”.39 Such policing seeks, as the motto says, to “serve and protect” the public. Pivoting on a partnership between the police and the community, it involves training and practices that seek to foster a relationship of mutual trust, bonds of empathy, and a common purpose between police and people. This approach is also more proactive than reactive, involving a more preventive approach to crime that strives to identify, understand and address the root causes of crime. As theological ethicist Gerald Schlabach puts it, community policing involves being “embedded, indebted, and accountable within [a] community”, which he believes entails that “it has an inherent tendency to minimize recourse to violence”.40 Kleinig noted that although the use of force is not ruled out absolutely, it is governed stringently by moral and legal criteria for when and how to employ it.41 This social peacekeeper model of policing – or as I have named it, just policing42– appears to coincide more with R2P, especially with its first prong emphasizing the “responsibility to prevent” through just peacemaking practices, as well as with the second prong about the “responsibility to react” through, as a last resort in extreme circumstances where necessary, forceful intervention.

John Howard Yoder, Just War Theory and R2P

If R2P indeed may be viewed as an extension of just policing, most WCC members should be able to support it. Of course, not everyone will agree with it, particularly those in the historic peace churches who regard the use of lethal force, even by police, as incompatible with Christian ethics. As a Protestant much influenced in his pacifism by the Mennonite tradition, Stanley Hauerwas comments that his support of a police approach to dealing with international conflict stops at the point where it requires him to “carry a gun”.43 Moreover, Mennonite J. Denny Weaver argues that pacifists who accept and possibly participate in policing that involves the use of force, even if it is more limited than war-fighting, are “practically” or “almost” pacifists who actually have “just-war outlooks but with more stringent application of just-war criteria than is usually the case”.44 Yet, might it be possible to offer their moral support for R2P even if they never actually participate in this particular prong of it? I think so.

My teacher, the late Mennonite theological ethicist John Howard Yoder, who was the pacifist who most influenced Hauerwas, used to show his respect for the dignity of his fellow Christians who subscribe to the just war tradition by engaging them in conversations on their terms and encouraging them to think more seriously about what it would really mean to honour and adhere to this mode of moral reasoning about when war is, or is not, justified. As Mark Thiessen Nation notes in his John Howard Yoder: Mennonite Patience, Evangelical Witness, Catholic Conviction, not only were pacifists “strengthened through Yoder's pacifist writings”, but other Christians “were strengthened in their resolve to use violence only in a disciplined fashion”.45 Indeed, Yoder believed that Christian pacifists and just war proponents should waste less time attacking each other and instead “spend more energy … [on] their responsibility to challenge the realists, crusaders, and rambos on their ‘right’ who in fact are shooting up the world”.46

One area where pacifists and just war theorists have responded to Yoder's call to forge an alliance has been the fruitful work on just peacemaking, which certainly connects with the “responsibility to prevent” and, in my view, “the responsibility to rebuild” prongs of R2P. But I think that just policing represents another area where most pacifists and just war theorists may come together and support, at least morally, R2P, including its second prong, “the responsibility to react”. While Yoder was not sure if pacifists could participate in actions resembling policing, especially when lethal force may be involved, he thought pacifists should support efforts by others to make just war more like just policing. “The closer one comes to the domestic model”, he wrote, “where restrained violence is like that of the police officer, the more applicable, by analogy, is the just-war language, and the more credible is its claim to be providing real guidance”.47 Or, as Hauerwas expresses it, “a police force is the best institutionalization of what just war should be about”.48 A number of just war ethicists in recent decades have shared this perspective, even though policing generally has not received substantial attention in the field of Christian ethics.

Accordingly, some just war ethicists highlighted how the just war mode of reasoning can be discerned analogously in moral accounts of any political use of force, both domestically and internationally. The Irish moral theologian Enda McDonagh has written, “Accepting, in common with the majority of Christians past and present, the need for the violence of restraint in society, one is operating with criteria similar to those of the just war.”49 This interpretation echoes that of the 20th-century United States Methodist theologian, Paul Ramsey, who argued that the “moral economy” of the just war tradition is “morally if not legally binding upon the use of force between nations”, and it also “regulates the use of force within political communities, where it is both morally and legally binding”.50 Likewise, the Catholic ethicist Edward Malloy believes “the ‘just war’ or ‘justified violence’ tradition” provides a “helpful ethical framework for analysis … adapted to the problem of police use of force”. He is “convinced that the classic criteria for the justified use of violence are much easier to satisfy in the domestic context of police work than they are in the international setting of war”.51 While he knew that many invoke just war language as a smokescreen for wars that are unjust, Yoder constantly asked just war advocates how they might make the claims of the just war tradition truly operational in a way that has “teeth” (he also called this a “strict constructionist” approach) so as to lead to less violence, less injustice, and less loss of life in the world.52 Just policing would appear to be what all of these theologians have in mind, even though they did not yet name it as such. That is, while the reasoning and the criteria are basically the same in either just war or just policing, their application in just policing has more teeth given the community and legal framework, under which police use of force is subject to more constraint, review and accountability.

R2P endeavours to do the same. As Raiser observes, “Even the military component follows a logic that is closer to the role of police; their task is not to ‘win’ and to liquidate an enemy, but rather to stop armed violence and to bring to justice those responsible for acts of violence”.53 Although much warfare, especially in the past bloody century, has not exemplified such moral concern – even when they are purported to be “just” wars – for the enemy, the logic of the just war tradition going back to Augustine rests behind both the just policing and R2P frameworks for the moral use of force.54

Augustine held that the aim of a just war – its right intent – should be to restore peace. In his letter to Boniface, a Roman general in Africa who, after his wife's death, desired to retire and become a monk, Augustine wrote, “War should be waged only as a necessity and waged only that through it God may deliver men from that necessity and preserve them in peace. For peace is not to be sought in order to kindle war, but war is to be waged in order to obtain peace”.55 Like his teacher Ambrose, Augustine anchored just war in loving defence of an innocent neighbour who is under attack.56 Augustine did not have in mind revenge and vengeance; rather – and this tied back to his understanding of right intent – the hope was to have evil persons repent and reform, and thereby restore the peace.57 He did not think that just war contradicted Jesus' injunction to love one's enemies. Just war is a form of love in going to the aid of an unjustly attacked innocent party; however, it is also an expression of love, or “kind harshness”, for one's enemy neighbour.58 It aims at turning the enemy from their wicked ways, making amends, and helping the enemy to rejoin the community of peace and justice. Augustine wrote, “Therefore, even in waging war, cherish the spirit of a peacemaker, that, by conquering those whom you attack, you may lead them back to the advantages of peace”.59

But, one may ask, how is this a benefit or how is it loving for those enemies who are killed on the battlefield? Augustine replied, “Let necessity, therefore, and not your will, slay the enemy who fights against you”.60 A mournful mood should accompany this action, moreover. In his view, the “real evils in war are love of violence, revengeful cruelty, fierce and implacable enmity, wild resistance, and the lust of power”,61 all of which would be at odds with restoring a just peace.

Paul Ramsey used to argue that “the logic, the heart and soul, of such protective love” is the basis for the Christian just-war tradition.62 For Ramsey, whenever a choice must be made between the unjust perpetrator and the innocent victim, circumstances dictate that the latter is to be preferred. As Augustine put it, necessity requires such action. Necessity here, however, should be understood in the strict sense of employing lawful and indispensable means, and not in the way that was critiqued by Yoder, namely, “that one may legitimately break the rules whenever one ‘really has to,’ which tends to boil down to being useful (saving lives, shortening the war) rather than to the real lack of any other means”.63 The latter was the reasoning that supposedly justified the United States' decision to drop atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

What, it may be asked, has happened to the Christian call to love the enemy neighbour? In Ramsey's view, such love is not altogether extinguished or absent. What he referred to as the “twin-born” justification for war involves a preferential love for the wronged innocent neighbour, but it must also extend to the wrongdoing guilty neighbour, the principle of noncombatant immunity.64 In other words, the criteria governing when and how the use of force may be morally used – whether in just war, just policing or, we might rightly add today, R2P – exist out of love for both the innocent and the guilty neighbours.


In his disturbing book Killing Civilians: Method, Madness, and Morality in War, Hugo Slim shares the story of the Liberian village of Bakedo, a mostly Muslim community of Mandingo people of traders and farmers in West Africa. In June 1990, a massacre happened near the mosque nestled in the town's centre. Rebels of Charles Taylor's National Patriotic Front of Liberia opened fire at point blank range, killing 36 people – men, women and children – whom they had pushed onto the floor of the “palava hut” near the mosque.

Panic then ensued as people all over the village ran for the forest or scrambled to hide in their houses. As people fled, the sentries posted at the exits of the village shot them one by one, killing men, women and children outright or wounding others who then ran on into the bush where many of them later bled to death. Soldiers inside the village stormed every hut, killing anyone they found and firing up into the thatched roofs where people were hiding, their blood then dripping to the floor below.65

The surviving villagers think they counted 350 people killed in that half hour. What should Christians who are called to be like the Good Samaritan do when a crime such as this is happening? I believe that much can be done, including the practices of just peacemaking, to prevent such scenarios from happening in the first place; unfortunately, force is sometimes necessary to put a stop to horrific crimes that are already underway against the innocent. This is analogous to a police officer responding to an emergency call and arriving at the scene to find that the armed suspect is already in the process of shooting at civilians in a park.

Of course, not all pacifist Christians will accept this approach, though some will. As Yoder astutely observed, there exists “a wide gamut of varying, sometimes even contradictory, views” among pacifists.66 A spectrum of pacifist perspectives arises with regard to policing.67 The church historian Roland Bainton once noted that “certain pacifists” in the 1950s endorsed the UN intervention in Korea “on the ground that it was not war but only police action”.68 In addition, during the 1990s, in the context of the discussion over the moral legitimacy of humanitarian interventions, Duane Cady observed that because many pacifists “tend not to hesitate over controlled and restrained uses of force by police officers in the apprehension of criminals”, they may endorse small-scale military activities resembling large-scale police work.69 At the same time, I recognize that some Christian pacifists continue to raise significant objections to any lethal use of force, regardless of whether it is employed by police or by the military. Yoder himself would be sceptical that Christians are called to participate in such activities.70 Nevertheless, he still maintained, “Wherever any new opening for the moral criticism of the use of violence arises, it is in some way a use of the just war logic, and should be welcomed as at least an opening for possible moral judgment”.71

In the early years of the Second World War, a scholar of police history, Charles Reith, in his book Police Principles and the Problem of War, called for an extension of policing principles to the international level as a move towards abolishing war by an international league or union of nations.72 In this work, Reith retrieves two major prongs that were initially emphasized by Sir Robert Peel's New Police, which he organized in London in 1829: the preventive principle of policing and the capacity to enforce the law. By the “preventive” principle of policing, Reith had in mind the prevention of crime, which was emphasized by Peel. The London Metropolitan Police, according to police historian Samuel Walker, “were proactive rather than reactive”,73 much like the social peacekeeping model Kleinig advocates and the just policing approach outlined here – and consistent with the “responsibility to prevent” prong of R2P.

At the same time, however, in the wake of the League of Nations' failure to stop the outbreak of the Second World War, Reith recognized the need for the capacity to use force to enforce international law if rogue or recalcitrant nations pose a threat to other nations, ethnic groups or international order. He warned, “Observance of international laws cannot be secured without provision of force for compelling it …”.74 Such force, however, would be governed by the moral principles of just policing, so that it would be the force of law rather than the law of force. Again, this approach would be congruent with the kind of policing envisioned by Peel, who highlighted the use of persuasion, with physical force as a last resort and using only the minimum necessary for preventing or stopping a breach of the law, the social peacekeeper or just policing approach to policing, or the “responsibility to react” prong of R2P.


  1. 1 Brian Steidle (and Gretchen Steidle Wallace), The Devil Came on Horseback: Bearing Witness to the Genocide in Darfur, PublicAffairs/Perseus Books Group, New York, 2007, p. xi. See also Alex de Waal (ed) War in Darfur and the Search for Peace, Global Equity Initiative/Harvard University, London and Cambridge, MA, 2007.

  2. 2 Brian Steidle, The Devil Came on Horseback, p. 88.

  3. 3http://www.un.org/depts/dpko/missions/unmis/background.html (Accessed 10.12.2010).

  4. 4 International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty, “The Responsibility to Protect”, December 2001; available at http://www.iciss.ca/report2-en.asp (Accessed 10.12.2010).

  5. 5 World Council of Churches, “Vulnerable Populations at Risk: Statement on the Responsibility to Protect”, adopted by the Ninth Assembly, meeting in Porto Alegre, Brazil, 14–23 February 2006; available at http://www.oikoumene.org/gr/resources/documents/assembly/porto-alegre-2006/1-statements-documents-adopted/international-affairs/report-from-the-public-issues-committee/responsibility-to-protect.html (Accessed 10.12.2010).

  6. 6 2005 World Summit Outcome Document, available at http://www.who.int/hiv/universalaccess2010/worldsummit.pdf (Accessed 10.12.2010); “Implementing the Responsibility to Protect”, available at http://globalr2p.org/pdf/SGR2PEng.pdf (Accessed 10.12.2010) A/RES/63/308 on “The Responsibility to Protect”, available at http://globalr2p.org/media/pdf/UNResolutionA63L.80Rev.1.pdf (Accessed 10.12.2010).

  7. 7 Ninth Assembly of the World Council of Churches, “Vulnerable Populations at Risk: Statement on the Responsibility to Protect”, 14–23 February 2006, Porto Alegre, Brazil; available at http://www.oikoumene.org/resources/documents/assembly/porto-alegre-2006/1-statements-documents-adopted/international-affairs/report-from-the-public-issues-committee/responsibility-to-protect.html (Accessed 10.12.2010).

  8. 8http://www.oikoumene.org/resources/documents/executive-committee/bossey-february-2009/statement-on-the-gaza-war.html (Accessed 10.12.2010).

  9. 9 Pope Benedict XVI, Address to the United Nations, 18 April 2008, available at http://www.un.org/webcast/pdfs/Pope_speech.pdf (Accessed 10.12.2010); Pope Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate, available at http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/encyclicals/documents/hf_ben-xvi_enc_20090629_caritas-in-veritate_en.html (Accessed 10.12.2010). So far, little work has been done in Catholic circles on R2P, however. For a recent article that attempts to introduce Catholics to the topic, see David Hollenbach, “Humanitarian Intervention: Why, When and How”, Commonweal 137, no. 19 (November 5, 2010), 9–11.

  10. 10 For a helpful recent article on how R2P offers a normative vocabulary for motivating action and as a policy agenda still needing implementation, see Alex J. Bellamy, “The Responsibility to Protect – Five Years On”, Ethics and International Affairs 24, no. 2 (2010), 143–69.

  11. 11 Gareth Evans, “The Responsibility to Protect: Moving Towards a Shared Consensus” in Semegnish Asfaw, Guillermo Kerber and Peter Weiderud, The Responsibility to Protect: Ethical and Theological Reflections, World Council of Churches, Geneva, 2005, p. 5.

  12. 12 Konrad Raiser, “The Ethics of Protection”, in Semegnish Asfaw, Guillermo Kerber and Peter Weiderud (eds) The Responsibility to Protect, p. 11.

  13. 13 Central Committee of the World Council of Churches, “The Protection of Endangered Populations in Situations of Armed Violence: Toward an Ecumenical Ethical Approach” (2001), available at http://www.wcc-coe.org/wcc/who/cc2001/pi2rev-e.html, especially at paragraphs 17, 49 and 50 (Accessed 10.12.2010). The Central Committee received and commended the document to the churches for “further study, reflection and use – as they may deem appropriate – in their continuing dialogues”.

  14. 14 Glen H. Stassen (ed) Just Peacemaking: The New Paradigm for the Ethics of Peace and War, new ed., The Pilgrim Press, Cleveland, OH, 2008.

  15. 15 Peter Weiderud, “Foreword” in Semegnish Asfaw, Guillermo Kerber and Peter Weiderud (eds) The Responsibility to Protect, p. vii.

  16. 16 Central Committee of the World Council of Churches, “The Protection of Endangered Populations in Situations of Armed Violence”, introductory paragraph.

  17. 17 Gareth Evans, “The Responsibility to Protect”, p. 5. See also Guillermo Kerber, “The Responsibility to Protect: Ethical and Theological Reflections”, in Semegnish Asfaw, Guillermo Kerber and Peter Weiderud (eds) The Responsibility to Protect, p. 115.

  18. 18 Arnold Neufeldt-Fast, “Christianity and War: The Pacifist View”, in Semegnish Asfaw, Guillermo Kerber and Peter Weiderud (eds) The Responsibility to Protect, pp. 31–36; Guillermo Kerber, “The Responsibility to Protect”, p. 120; The Workshop for Peace Theology of “Church and Peace” and of the “International Fellowship of Reconciliation” (German Branch), “S4C – Suffer for Christ: A Response to the WCC paper concerning the Responsibility to Protect (R2P)”, 17 November 2007, unpublished manuscript. Signatories: Dr. Matthias Engelke, Dr. James Jakob Fehr, Ekke Fetköter, Hanna-E. Fetköter, Wolfgang Krauss, Marie-Noëlle von der Recke, and Christoph Rinneberg. See also James Jakob Fehr, “The Responsibility to Confront Evil: A Pacifist Critique of R2P from the Historic Peace Churches”, unpublished manuscript available at http://www.dmfk.de/fileadmin/downloads/Responsibility%20to%20Confront%20Evil.pdf (Accessed 10.12.2010).

  19. 19 Michael Joseph Smith, “Strengthen the United Nations and International Efforts for Cooperation and Human Rights” in Glen H. Stassen (ed) Just Peacemaking, p. 166.

  20. 20 In its 2001 decision on the “protection of endangered peoples” document, the WCC Central Committee stated “that on the substance of the concern to protect populations caught in situations of armed violence described in the following background document there was broad agreement, but that some differences remain with respect to the use of armed force for the protection of endangered populations in situations of armed violence”. Similarly, the 2006 statement from the WCC, “Vulnerable Populations at Risk”, also notes in paragraph 2: “The use of force for humanitarian purposes is a controversial issue … . While some believe that the resort to force must not be avoided when it can alleviate or stop large-scale human rights violations, others can only support intervention by creative, non-violent means”. http://www.oikoumene.org/resources/documents/assembly/porto-alegre-2006/1-statements-documents-adopted/international-affairs/report-from-the-public-issues-committee/responsibility-to-protect.html (Accessed 10.12.2010).

  21. 21 Ernie Regehr, “Comments from Ernie Regehr”, in Semegnish Asfaw, Guillermo Kerber and Peter Weiderud, The Responsibility to Protect, p. 105.

  22. 22 World Council of Churches, “Vulnerable Populations at Risk”, paragraphs 13 and 17.

  23. 23 Jim Wallis, “Hard Questions for Peacemakers: Theologians of Nonviolence Wrestle with How to Resist Terrorism”, Sojourners (January–February 2002), pp. 29–33.

  24. 24 Jim Wallis, “Interview with Stanley Hauerwas”, Sojonet: Faith, Politics, and Culture, November 8, 2001; available at http://www.sojo.net/index.cfm?action=news.display_archives&mode=current_opinion&article=CO_010702h (Accessed 10.12.2010).

  25. 25 Examples include Catholic moral theologians Lisa Sowle Cahill, Jean Porter and J. Bryan Hehir; see Tobias Winright, “Just Cause and Preemptive Strikes in the War on Terrorism: Insights from a Just-Policing Perspective”, The Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics 26, no. 2 (Fall/Winter 2006), pp. 157–81.

  26. 26 Michael Walzer, Arguing About War, Yale University Press, New Haven, CT, 2004, p. xiv. In the United States, “911” is the telephone number for calling the police.

  27. 27 Edward LeRoy Long, Jr., Facing Terrorism: Responding as Christians, Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville, KY, 2004, pp. 50–54, 81–85, at 83. Given my experience in law enforcement and the absence of any substantial treatment of this topic in Christian ethics, the use of force in policing became the subject of my doctoral dissertation. See Tobias Winright, “The Challenge of Policing: An Analysis in Christian Social Ethics” (Ph.D. diss., University of Notre Dame, 2002).

  28. 28 According to David H. Bayley and Robert M. Perito, 43 percent of people surveyed in El Salvador believe corruption is pervasive among public servants, including the police; 42 percent of Afghans responding similarly. See David H. Bayley and Robert M. Perito, The Police in War: Fighting Insurgency, Terrorism, and Violent Crime, Lynne Rienner Publishers, Boulder, CO and London, UK, 2010, p. 101.

  29. 29 See, for example, recent articles by Mennonite author Andy Alexis-Baker, including “The Gospel or a Glock? Mennonites and the Police”, Conrad Grebel Review 25, no. 2 (Spring 2007), pp. 23–49, and “Community, Policing, and Violence”, Conrad Grebel Review 26, no. 2 (Spring 2008), pp. 102–16.

  30. 30 John Kleinig, The Ethics of Policing, Cambridge University Press, New York, 1996, pp. 24–25.

  31. 31 Egon Bittner, The Functions of the Police in Modern Society, Oelgeschlager, Gunn and Hain, Cambridge, MA, 1980, p. 52.

  32. 32 Jerome H. Skolnick and James J. Fyfe, Above the Law: Police and Excessive Use of Force, The Free Press, New York, 1993, p. 113. See John Kleinig, The Ethics of Policing, p. 283, n. 31.

  33. 33 Stuart A. Scheingold, The Politics of Law and Order: Street Crime and Public Policy, Longman, New York, 1984, pp. 101–02.

  34. 34 Victor Kappeler, Mark Blumberg and Gary Potter, The Mythology of Crime and Criminal Justice Waveland Press, Prospect Heights, IL, 1993, p. 131.

  35. 35 Paul Chevigny, Edge of the Knife: Police Violence in the Americas, The New Press, New York, 1995, 255–56.

  36. 36 Jerome H. Skolnick and James J. Fyfe, Above the Law, The Free Press, New York, 1993, pp. xviii, 12–13, 115–16.

  37. 37 John Kleinig, The Ethics of Policing, pp. 27–29. Other models of policing include the “emergency operator” and the “social enforcer”, but Kleinig argues that both of these continue to regard the monopoly of coercive force as the distinguishing essential feature of policing (pp. 25–27).

  38. 38 John Kleinig, The Ethics of Policing, pp. 28, 78, 229–33. For more on community policing, see Robert R. Friedmann, Community Policing: Comparative Perspectives and Prospects, St. Martin's Press, New York, 1992; Gene Stephens, “Peace in the ‘Hood’”, in James D. Sewell (ed) Controversial Issues in Policing, Allyn and Bacon, Needham Heights, MA, 1999, 189–205; and Gene Stephens, “The Future of Policing: From a War Model to a Peace Model”, in The Past, Present, and Future of Criminal Justice, General Hall, Dix Hills, New York, 1996, pp. 77–93. For a critical assessment of community policing, see William G. Doerner, “Do We Need a War on Crime or Peace in the ‘Hood’?”, in James D. Sewell (ed) Controversial Issues in Policing, pp. 189–205.

  39. 39 David H. Bayley and Robert M. Perito, The Police in War, pp. 73–74, 83–86, 98–102, 113–18.

  40. 40 Gerald W. Schlabach, “Just Policing: How War Could Cease to Be a Church-Dividing Issue”, in Ivan J. Kauffman (ed) Just Policing: Mennonite-Catholic Theological Colloquium 2002, Bridgefolk Series, no. 2, Pandora Press, Kitchener, ON, 2004, p. 23.

  41. 41 Gerald W. Schlabach, “Just Policing”, pp. 99–102; deadly force policy is further discussed at 107–22.

  42. 42 The phrase “just policing” has recently been disseminated more widely through the work of Gerald Schlabach; however, my own work on policing and the use of force preceded his, though I focused primarily on the just use of force by police. In March 2000, though, while teaching at Simpson College, I was invited by Methodist social ethicist Roger Betsworth to give a presentation that I titled “Just Policing” to an adult education group at First United Methodist Church in Indianola, Iowa, and I believe that is the first time I used this terminology.

  43. 43 Jim Wallis, “Interview with Stanley Hauerwas”.

  44. 44 J. Denny Weaver, “Why the ‘Almost’ Is Still Important: A Response to ‘Just Policing: How War Could Cease to Be a Church-Dividing Issue”, in Ivan J. Kaufman (ed) Just Policing, p. 90.

  45. 45 Mark Thiessen Nation, John Howard Yoder: Mennonite Patience, Evangelical Witness, Catholic Convictions, William B. Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, MI, 2006, p. 194.

  46. 46 John Howard Yoder, “How Many Ways Are There to Think Morally about War?”The Journal of Law and Religion XI/1 (1994–1995), p. 107.

  47. 47 John Howard Yoder, When War Is Unjust: Being Honest in Just-War Thinking, rev. ed., Orbis Books, Maryknoll, NY, 1996, p. 69.

  48. 48 Quoted in Jim Wallis, “Interview with Stanley Hauerwas”.

  49. 49 Enda McDonagh, Church and Politics: From Theology to a Case History of Zimbabwe, University of Notre Dame Press, Notre Dame, IN, 1980; published in Ireland as The Demands of Simple Justice, p. 71. See also Ralph B. Potter, War and Moral Discourse, John Knox Press, Richmond, VA, 1973, pp. 49–50.

  50. 50 Paul Ramsey, The Just War: Force and Political Responsibility, Charles Scribner's Sons, New York, 1968, p. 144.

  51. 51 Edward A. Malloy, The Ethics of Law Enforcement and Criminal Punishment, University Press of America, Lanham, MD, 1982, pp. 10, 24.

  52. 52 John Howard Yoder, When War Is Unjust, p. 3.

  53. 53 Konrad Raiser, “The Ethics of Protection”, 15.

  54. 54 Roger Williamson, along with others, has noted, “The [2001] report is set within the intellectual framework of the just war tradition, which includes criteria relating both to the decision to use military force and on the conduct of war”. See Roger Williamson, “Further Developing the Criteria for Intervention”, in Semegnish Asfaw, Guillermo Kerber, and Peter Weiderud (eds) The Responsibility to Protect, p. 60. In the same volume, see Sturla J. Stålsett, “Notes on the Just War Tradition”, pp. 28–30, which observes that the criteria for R2P in the various reports are in line with the “tradition on the justifiable use of coercive force” (p. 29).

  55. 55 Augustine, Letter 189, trans. J. G. Cunningham, in The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (1st series), 1; reproduced in Arthur F. Holmes, War and Christian Ethics, Baker Academic, Grand Rapids, 2005, pp. 62–63. For a helpful treatment of Augustine here, see Daniel M. Bell, Jr., Just War as Christian Discipleship: Recentering the Tradition in the Church Rather than the State, Brazos Press, Grand Rapids, MI, 2009, pp. 28–31.

  56. 56 Augustine, Letter 47, in Philip Schaff (ed) Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, 1st ser., vol. 1, ed., Hendrickson, Peabody, MA, 1994, p. 293.

  57. 57 Augustine, E. M. Atkins and R. J. Dodaro (eds) Augustine: Political Writings, Cambridge University Press, New York, 2001, p. 135.

  58. 58 Augustine, E. M. Atkins and R. J. Dodaro (eds) Augustine: Political Writings, p. 38.

  59. 59 Augustine, Letter 189, in Arthur F. Holmes, War and Christian Ethics, p. 63.

  60. 60 Augustine, Letter 189, in Arthur F. Holmes, War and Christian Ethics, p. 63.

  61. 61 Augustine, Reply to Faustus the Manichean bk. 22, chap. 74, trans. R. Stothert, in The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers vol. 4 (1st series), 69–76; reproduced in Arthur F. Holmes, War and Christian Ethics, 64.

  62. 62 Paul Ramsey, Speak Up for Just War or Pacifism: A Critique of the United Methodist Bishops’ Letter “In Defense of Creation”, The Pennsylvania State University Press, University Park and London, 1988, p. 72.

  63. 63 John Howard Yoder, When War Is Unjust, p. 28.

  64. 64 Paul Ramsey, The Just War, pp. 143–44.

  65. 65 Hugo Slim, Killing Civilians: Method, Madness, and Morality in War, Columbia University Press, New York, 2008, 9–10.

  66. 66 John Howard Yoder, Nevertheless: The Varieties and Shortcomings of Religious Pacifism, Herald Press, Scottdale, PA, 1971, 9–10.

  67. 67 For a more extensive and carefully nuanced treatment of pacifism(s) and policing(s), see Winright, “The Challenging of Policing”, especially Chapter Two, “Can a Christian Be a Cop?”, pp. 149–211. An earlier exploration of this topic may be found in Tobias Winright, “From Police Officers to Peace Officers”, in Stanley Hauerwas, Mark Nation, and Harry Huebner (eds) The Wisdom of the Cross: Essays in Honor of John Howard Yoder, William B. Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 1999), pp. 84–114.

  68. 68 Roland Bainton, “War and the Christian Ethic”, in J. Richard Spann (ed) The Church and Social Responsibility, Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, New York and Nashville, 1953, 209. At mid-century, James Thayer Addison suggested that the UN intervention in Korea was “rightly viewed … as the international equivalent of police work”, in War, Peace, and the Christian Mind: A Review of Recent Thought, Seabury, Greenwich, CT, 1953, p. 19.

  69. 69 Duane Cady, “Pacifist Perspectives on Humanitarian Intervention”, in Robert L. Phillips and Duane L. Cady (eds) Humanitarian Intervention: Just War vs. Pacifism, Rowman and Littlefield, Lanham, MD, 1996, 69.

  70. 70 John Howard Yoder, The Christian Witness to the State, Faith and Life Press, Newton, KS, 1964, pp. 56–57. Indeed, Yoder would be highly critical of any justification for the use of force that seeks to make history “turn out right”, is done in idolatrous defense of flag or ideology, or optimistically strives to make “peace without eschatology”. He also regarded Christian pacifism as ultimately being congruent with the very nature of God as revealed in Jesus Christ. See, for example, John Howard Yoder, The Original Revolution: Essays on Christian Pacifism, Herald Press, Scottdale, PA, 1971, pp. 19–28, 41–42, 48, 51, 55–57, 62, 64–66, 71–77, 80–83, 113–22, 130–32, 135, 139, 172, 174–75. Space does not permit me to address these concerns at this time, but I do think that R2P need not succumb to these criticisms.

  71. 71 John Howard Yoder, The Original Revolution, p. 132.

  72. 72 Charles Reith, Police Principles and the Problem of War, Oxford University Press, London, 1940.

  73. 73 Samuel Walker, Popular Justice: A History of American Criminal Justice, Oxford University Press, New York, 1980, p. 60; emphasis in the original.

  74. 74 Charles Reith, Police Principles and the Problem of War, p. 147.

Dr Tobias Winright, a Catholic moral theologian with prior experience in law enforcement, is associate professor of Theological Ethics at Saint Louis University in St. Louis, Missouri (USA).