In 1795 Immanuel Kant outlined six preliminary conditions for peace between states in his famous essay Zum ewigen Frieden: Ein philosophischer Entwurf (Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch). Redrafting Perpetual Peace—an initiative generated by academics and foundation leaders to re-frame Perpetual Peace for the contemporary world.
This page gathers the contributions of Syracuse University Institute for Security Policy and Law Founding Director William C. Banks and Affiliated Faculty Member Louis Kriesberg.
Banks’ contribution explores Kant’s Preliminary Article VI: “No state at war with another shall adopt such modes of hostility as would necessarily render mutual confidence impossible in a future peace; such as, the employment of assassins (percussores) or poisoners (venefici), the violation of a capitulation, the instigation of treason and such like.”
“[A]ccepting the inevitability of war,” writes Banks, parsing Preliminary Article VI, “following a code of conduct during armed conflict distinguishes legitimate from illegitimate warfare. Remarkably, Kant envisioned the heart of the modern laws of war, or jus en bello, now codified in the Geneva Conventions and their Protocols and further reflected in customary law. At the same time, neither Kant nor the authors of the Geneva Conventions envisioned how contemporary means and actors in armed conflicts have threatened the central efficacy of the normative framework for lawful combat.”
Banks’ essay suggests how the ideas embedded in Kant’s Article VI might be embellished to accommodate some verities of our contemporary world, such as asymmetric warfare waged against nation states by non-state actors.
Professor Emeritus Louis Kreisberg of the SU Maxwell School also contributes an article, contemplating Preliminary Article III: “Standing Armies shall be entirely abolished in the course of time.” “The most plausible path to abolishing all national armed forces,” writes Kriesberg in his conclusion, “is through multilateral agreements to greatly limit the size and capacities of all countries’ armed forces and to establish a global body exercising control of an international military force.”
At redraftingperpetualpeace.org, these and other articles are joined by six short films that explore another central question, “How can we translate Kant’s academic discourse to induce discussions on peace between the academic and the artist?”
Perpetual Peace Project
Redrafting Perpetual Peace—curated by the Centre for the Humanities at Utrecht University, The Netherlands—is part of the wider Perpetual Peace Project, an international research and cultural program involving the Syracuse University Humanities Center, the Slought Foundation, the European Union Institutes of Culture, and the Treaty of Utrecht Foundation.
The Perpetual Peace Project’s series of public initiatives includes an international symposium at the International Peace Institute and the United Nations, an installation at the New Museum, and a feature film, each of which feature conversations with renowned philosophers and practitioners reflecting on Immanuel Kant’s foundational essay with reference to 21st century international priorities and geopolitical conflicts.
Kant’s “Perpetual Peace Program”