Defining war is a political philosophical problem. It involves the morality of war, the legitimacy of legal authority, and the use of violence as a means of achieving other ends. However, the concept of war has many different definitions. The varying definitions often reflects the philosopher’s political stance. Some have suggested that war is only fought to end suffering while others claim that it is a natural phenomenon.
In addition to its impact on a large number of people, war can also have a long-term effect on the economic infrastructure of a country. Conflicts can cause famines, disrupt water supplies and energy sources, and lead to the collapse of infrastructure. These issues can last for generations.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has a special role in enforcing laws and regulations related to war. It works with the United Nations to establish and enforce the rules of war. In 1949, after World War II, diplomats in Geneva adopted four treaties. These conventions were designed to protect civilians, wounded soldiers and prisoners of war. The Fourth Geneva Convention specifically applies to people in occupied territories. The First and Second Geneva Conventions have provisions relating to the treatment of sick and injured soldiers and sailors. The Third Geneva Convention requires that adequate food, medical care, and other requirements be met by those engaged in conflict.
Modern warfare requires a significant number of civilian workers at home. In fact, the majority of casualties in contemporary conflicts are civilians. Women and children are particularly vulnerable in these conflicts. They are more likely to be killed than professional soldiers.
The working definition of war is more flexible than the OED version. It allows for examination of the causes and consequences of wars, including non-declared actions, culturally evolved wars, and wars between non-state peoples. It also allows for the study of highly organized, politically controlled wars.
The first Geneva Convention was adopted by twelve European countries and was meant to protect the sick and wounded in battle. The Second and Third Conventions are also meant to protect noncombatants, such as civilians and prisoners of war. These conventions are ratified by 196 states. The Fourth Geneva Convention also applies to the treatment of prisoners of war and wounded sailors.
In general, the definition of war can capture the clash of arms or a state’s authorized declaration of war. It can also encompass the threat of violence or the mutual tension between opposing parties.
The Oxford Dictionary defines war as “any conflict in which the two sides fight and kill one another.” It also notes that war may be used as a means to achieve other purposes. It also accepts that there is a possibility for metaphorical clashes between systems of thought.
According to the Fourth Geneva Convention, the targeting of civilians is a crime. In fact, war crimes have been prosecuted in the U.N.’s International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia during the Bosnian war in the 1990s.