Studies in Christian Ethics 22 (3):357-381 (2009)

Consensus among human rights groups and churches in recent years about cluster bombs has culminated in the Convention on Cluster Munitions. While there is apparent agreement that cluster bombs ought to be illegal, no substantive ethical treatment of this issue exists. In statements, references are typically made to the danger cluster munitions pose to civilians; it is alleged that these weapons are inherently immoral, and appeal is given only implicitly or in a cursory fashion to traditional just war reasoning. Taking its cue from Jesuit moral theologian John C. Ford's influential article appearing in 1944 on `The Morality of Obliteration Bombing', and drawing on the more recent work of Oliver O'Donovan on `immoral weapons', this essay offers a critical moral assessment of cluster bombs and their use through attention to the principles of discrimination, proportionality, and the framework of double effect reasoning
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DOI 10.1177/0953946809106237
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