Ethics and International Affairs 36 (1):15-25 (2022)

Abstract
Moral injury names how the lived experience of armed conflict can damage an individual's ethical foundations, often with serious consequences. While the term has gained increasing acceptance for the clinical treatment of veterans and as a means of better understanding the impact of war, it is generally applied to individualized trauma. As part of the roundtable, “Moral Injury, Trauma, and War,” this essay argues that moral injury is also a useful means of addressing political violence at a societal level. It explores the term's value within international human rights discourse and practice, particularly in efforts to document and analyze the systematic commission of atrocities to achieve accountability and reconciliation. The essay presents field research among Iraqi human rights investigators as a means of reflecting on the value of rediscovering agency in the aftermath of societal trauma. In this way, moral injury provides guidance on the essential ethical qualities of the lived experience of violent repression, an issue central to a more complete understanding of international affairs.
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DOI 10.1017/s0892679422000028
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