Soldiers and ‘respect’ in complex conflicts: an Afghan case

  • Cornelia Vikan Institutt for filosofi og religionsvitenskap (IFR) Det humanistiske fakultet, NTNU
Keywords: war, respect, cultural practice, toleration, Just War Theory, Afghanistan


This paper discusses the meaning of ‘respect’ in complex conflicts and aims to be a contribution to thinking about ethics in war along with the Just War tradition. The point of departure is the increased focus on soldiers as moral decision-makers in war, illustrated by the introduction of core values in the Norwegian Armed Forces. ‘Respect’ is one of these core values. However, it is not clear how we should understand ‘respect’ in this kind of context. I use a case where a group of Norwegian soldiers in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) sought the cooperation of a group of mujahedeen to solve the military mission of establishing security. As confidence between the parties grew, the soldiers became horrified witnesses to a practice of bacha bazi, where a young boy is dressed up for entertainment and sexually abused. My discussion of different perspectives of ‘respect’ in this specific context shows the importance of acknowledging the multitude of moral stakes in a moral decision-process instead of closing the eyes for a moral problem.

How to Cite
Vikan, C. (2017). Soldiers and ‘respect’ in complex conflicts: an Afghan case. Etikk I Praksis - Nordic Journal of Applied Ethics, 12(1), 3-21.
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