470 Pages
    by Routledge

    What guidance can Buddhism provide to those involved in armed conflict and to belligerents who must perhaps kill or be killed or defend their families, communities or countries from attack? How, moreover, does Buddhism compare with international humanitarian law (IHL) – otherwise known as the law of armed conflict – which protects non-combatants and restricts the means and methods of warfare to limit the suffering it causes?

    Despite the prevalence of armed conflict in parts of the Buddhist world, few contemporary studies have addressed these questions. While there is a wealth of material on Buddhist conflict prevention and resolution, remarkably little attention has been paid to what Buddhism says about the actual conduct of war. IHL is also still relatively little known in the Buddhist world and might not therefore influence the behaviour of belligerents who self-identify as Buddhists and are perhaps more likely to be guided by Buddhist principles. This ground-breaking volume is part of an International Committee of the Red Cross project which seeks to fill this gap by exploring correspondences between Buddhist and IHL principles, and by identifying Buddhist resources to improve compliance with IHL and equivalent Buddhist or humanitarian norms.

    This book will be of much interest to students and researchers of International Law, Buddhism, Ethics as well as War and Conflict studies. The chapters in this book were originally published as a special issue of Contemporary Buddhism.

    The Open Access version of this book, available at https://www.taylorfrancis.com/books/oa-edit/10.4324/9781003439820/buddhism-international-humanitarian-law-andrew-bartles-smith-kate-crosby-peter-harvey-asanga-tilakaratne-daniel-ratheiser-noel-maurer-trew-stefania-travagnin-elizabeth-harris-mahinda-deegalle-christina-kilby, has been made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives (CC-BY-NC-ND) 4.0 license. A version of the open access title is also available on the OAPEN platform, https://library.oapen.org/handle/20.500.12657/75921



    Andrew Bartles-Smith


    Introduction: How Does Buddhism Compare with International Humanitarian Law, and Can It Contribute to Humanising War?

    Andrew Bartles-Smith


    Part I: Situating Buddhism in Relation to IHL


    1. Buddhist Motivation to Support IHL, From Concern to Minimise Harms Inflicted by Military Action to Both Those Who Suffer Them and Those Who Inflict Them

    Peter Harvey


    2. Implications of Buddhist Political Ethics for the Minimisation of Suffering in Situations of Armed Conflict

    P. D. Premasiri


    3. Two Dimensions of Buddhist Practice and Their Implications on Statecraft

    Asanga Tilakaratne


    4. The Paradox of the Buddhist Soldier

    Daniel Ratheiser and Sunil Kariyakarawana


    5. Buddhist Empirical Realism and the Conduct of Armed Conflict

    Elizabeth J. Harris


    6. Fundamental Intelligence, A Buddhist Justification for the Universal Principles Underlying IHL

    Diane Denis


    Part II: The Military and the Conduct of War


    7. The Buddhist Soldier: A Madhyamaka Inquiry

    Dharmacārin Siṃhanāda


    8. Limiting the Risk to Combatant Lives: Confluences Between International Humanitarian Law and Buddhism

    Vishakha Wijenayake


    9. ‘Not Knowing Is Most Intimate’: Koan Practice and the Fog of War

    Noel Maurer Trew


    10. Siege Warfare and the Prohibition of Intentional Starvation of Civilians: The Convergence of IHL and Buddhist Ethics

    Nishara Mendis


    Part III: Minimising Harm and Practical Values


    11. ‘Freedom From Hatred’: The Role of Khanti in Complementing the Work of International Humanitarian Law (IHL)

    Alex Wakefield


    12. Restraint In Warfare and Appamāda: The Concept of Collateral Damage in International Humanitarian Law in Light of the Buddha’s Last Words

    Bhagya Samarakoon


    13. The Gift of Fearlessness: A Buddhist Framework for the Protection of Vulnerable Populations Under International Humanitarian Law

    Christina A. Kilby


    14. Addressing the Causes of Conflict-Related Sexual Violence with the Buddhist Doctrine of Lack of a Permanent Self and Meditation Training

    Charya Samarakoon


    15. How Buddhist Principles Can Help the Practical Implementation of IHL Values During War with Respect to Non-Combatants

    Ven Kosgama Muditha, Ven Koralegama Gnanawasa and Ven Kirindiwela Pagngnawansa


    Part IV: Buddhist Historical and Humanitarian Dimensions


    16. Buddhism, The Royal Imaginary and Limits in Warfare: The Moderating Influence of Precolonial Myanmar Royal Campaigns on Everyday Warriors

    Michael W. Charney


    17. Between Common Humanity and Partiality: The Chogye Buddhist Chaplaincy Manual of the South Korean Military and Its Relevance to International Humanitarian Law

    Hyein Lee


    18. International Humanitarian Law and Nichiren Buddhism

    Daiki Kinoshita


    19. Socially Engaged Buddhism and Principled Humanitarian Action During Armed Conflict

    Ha Vinh Tho, Edith Favoreu and Noel Maurer Trew


    Andrew Bartles-Smith has many years of experience engaging with religious circles and non-state armed groups in Asia. He has pioneered ICRC efforts to promote research and debate on IHL and religious teachings and leads this project on Buddhism and IHL. 

    Kate Crosby is Numata Professor of Buddhist Studies at Oxford University, UK. Her books include Santideva‘s Bodhicaryavatara with Andrew Skilton (1995), the Mahabharata’s The Dead of Night & The Women (2009), Theravada Buddhism: Continuity, Identity, Diversity (2014) and Esoteric Theravada: The Story of the Forgotten Meditation Tradition of Southeast Asia (2020). 

    Peter Harvey is Emeritus Professor of Buddhist studies at the University of Sunderland, UK. His books include The Selfless Mind: Personality, Consciousness and Nirvana in Early Buddhism (1995), An Introduction to Buddhism: Teachings, History and Practices (1990, 2013) and An Introduction to Buddhist Ethics: Foundations, Values and Issues (2000).

    Asanga Tilakaratne is Emeritus Professor of Pali and Buddhist Studies at the University of Colombo, Sri Lanka, and Founding Chairman of the Damrivi Foundation. He has published extensively on Buddhist philosophy, practical ethics and Buddhist epistemology, among other subjects. He is Editor-in-chief of the Encyclopaedia of Buddhism, Government of Sri Lanka.

    Daniel Ratheiser is a Regional Advisor for the ICRC. He studied economics and religious sciences at George Washington University and the Universities of Heidelberg and Maastricht, held consulting roles in India and China and taught at the Max Mueller Bhawan. His research focuses on cultural relations between China and India.

    Noel Maurer Trew is an international law adviser for the British Red Cross, a former US Air Force research psychologist and instructor and a former volunteer for the Buddhist chapel at the USAF Academy. He holds a PhD in Strategy and Security Studies from the University of Exeter, UK.

    Stefania Travagnin is Reader in Chinese Buddhism at SOAS University of London, UK. Her publications include the volume Religion and Media in China (2016), and three co-edited volumes on Concepts and Methods for the Study of Chinese Religions (2019-2020). She is Co-director of the research project Mapping Religious Diversity in Modern Sichuan (CCKF funding; 2017-2023).

    Elizabeth J. Harris is an honorary senior research fellow within the Cadbury Centre for the Public Understanding of Religion at the University of Birmingham, UK, and President of the UK Association for Buddhist Studies, on which she writes. Her latest monograph is Religion, Space and Conflict in Sri Lanka: Colonial and Postcolonial Contexts (2018).

    Venerable Mahinda Deegalle is Emeritus Professor of Religions, Philosophies and Ethics at Bath Spa University, UK; Visiting Scholar at the University of Cambridge, UK; and Executive Director of the Research Centre for Buddhist Studies, Kandy, Sri Lanka. He is the author of Popularizing Buddhism and editor of several other volumes.

    Christina A. Kilby is Associate Professor of Religion at James Madison University, Harrisonburg, USA. She earned her Master of Theological Studies from Harvard University, Cambridge, USA, and her PhD in History of Religions from the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, USA. She has conducted extensive fieldwork among Tibetan communities, and her current research focuses on Buddhism and displacement.

    "This book is an extraordinary collaboration between monastics, military chaplains, experts in international humanitarian law, and elite scholars of Buddhist ethics from diverse cultural contexts. As such, it is a valuable primary text that documents the current range of thinking about Buddhist conduct during warfare. The project produced broad intercultural and multi-perspectival cross pollination on this vital current topic, and it is essential reading for anyone working in this area. As in classical Buddhist texts, these rich studies recognise that the ethical conduct of war is as important to address as its prevention."

    Stephen JenkinsHumboldt State University, USA

    "Though both Buddhism and international humanitarian law have exactly the same intention to reduce human suffering, this ICRC-supported book represents the first concerted effort to bring them together. Internationally well-known scholars of both Buddhism and IHL have now started to engage in open and enlightening dialogue between the two domains, and this breakthrough work shows what they have revealed so far."

    Khammai DhammasamiShan State Buddhist University, Myanmar

    "International humanitarian law (IHL) speaks profoundly to ideas of common humanity and the need for restraint during war. These concepts are found in religious and cultural teachings across the globe. ‘Buddhism and International Humanitarian Law’ is a unique, necessary and timely contribution to scholarship aiming to find stronger traction between religious principles, humanitarian norms and rules of IHL. In examining the interface between Buddhism and IHL, reflecting on warfare in Buddhist history, and looking at ways to explain and teach IHL differently, this important book adds weight to the aspiration of reducing suffering during times of armed conflict."

    Helen Durham AOGeneva Call, Switzerland

    "As a religion of peace, there is a conundrum concerning whether Buddhism also has a message for the conduct of war. The rich panoply of articles in this volume shows that it does. Notions of compassion, kindness and tolerance emanating from Buddhist roots all help to undergird core IHL principles such as distinction, military necessity, proportionality and precaution, thereby helping to protect those not directly involved in hostilities. This pioneering book illustrates how the Buddhist middle-way and its mindfulness techniques can nurture the self-control and sense of moderation necessary to humanise war and prevent its worst excesses."

    Vitit Muntarbhorn, Chulalongkorn University, Thailand