University of San Diego Leadership Institute Brings Conversation on Military Ethics to the West

The headlines that follow fighting and violence in many countries often point to the number of casualties as a result. Some of those are military fighters, while many others are civilian bystanders. Is there a point where the numbers of civilian casualties are considered excessive, or simply byproducts of war? That question, among many other issues, will be addressed during the 2009 International Society for Military Ethics (ISME) Symposium, held at the University of San Diego from Jan. 29-30.

Professor Henry Shue, senior research fellow at Oxford’s Centre for International Studies, will serve as keynote speaker for the symposium, which brings together military leaders and scholars from around the world. Shue will address the ethics of military targeting during war and when incidental civilian casualties are considered excessive. Shue is the co-editor of the book “Preemption: Military Action and Moral Justification.” He is best known for his book on international distributive justice, called “Basic Rights,” and for pioneering the sub-field of international normative theory, which he has been teaching since 2002. His research has focused on the role of human rights, particularly economic rights, in international affairs, and on institutions to protect the vulnerable.

USD Associate Professor George Reed, a retired Army colonel, said this about the number of the non-combatant casualties in war, “Since the inception of nation - states rulers have struggled with the difficulties of training and developing forces to effectively protect state interests on the one hand, and restraining those forces to legitimate purposes on the other. Responsible members of the profession of arms give due attention to both sides of that equation.”

The symposium, sponsored by USD’s Leadership Institute, has been held annually by the ISME since 1979. The goal of the conference is to provide a forum for the discussion and exchange of ideas relating to professional military ethics, as well as foster analysis of military issues of ethical significance.

Topics addressed during the conference will include:
• Unbecoming Conduct: Legal and Ethical Issues of Private Military Contractors in Combat Situations 
• Falling Between the Cracks: Host Nation Responsibility in Post-Conflict Reconstruction
• Is there a Duty to Obey Order to Wage an Unjust War?
• Do Character Development Programs Really Work?

For more information on the symposium, go to or contact the School of Leadership and Education Sciences at (619) 260-7444.

About the University of San Diego

The University of San Diego is a Catholic institution of higher learning chartered in 1949; the school enrolls approximately 7,500 graduate and undergraduate students and is known for its commitment to teaching, the liberal arts, the formation of values and community service. The inauguration of the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies brings the university’s total number of schools and colleges to six. Other academic divisions include the College of Arts and Sciences and the schools of Business Administration, Law, Leadership and Education Sciences, and Nursing and Health Science.


About the University of San Diego

The University of San Diego sets the standard for an engaged, contemporary Catholic university where innovative Changemakers confront humanity’s urgent challenges. With more than 8,000 students from 75 countries and 44 states, USD is the youngest independent institution on the U.S. News & World Report list of top 100 universities in the United States. USD’s eight academic divisions include the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Business, the Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering, the School of Law, the School of Leadership and Education Sciences, the Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science, the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies, and the Division of Professional and Continuing Education. USD recently concluded our successful $317M Leading Change: The Campaign for USD, which represented the most ambitious fundraising effort in the history of the university. In September 2016, USD introduced Envisioning 2024, a strategic plan that capitalizes on the university’s recent progress and aligns new strategic goals with current strengths to help shape a vision for the future as the university looks ahead to its 75th anniversary in the year 2024.