This article augments and enlarges the process of framing a more systematic and holistic ethical approach to non-lethal weapons that also provides caveats and restrictions - along the lines of jus in bello principles in the just war tradition - on their use. Rejected as morally impermissible is the use of non-lethal weapons as: (1) a way to circumvent or make irrelevant classical moral distinctions; (2) an 'easy' technological fix to complex moral and strategic problems; and (3) a method to make war more palatable and easier to use as both a military and political option. Non-lethal weapons can be ethical, and in fact may be ethically preferable to conventional weapons, only if they are used consistently with the following criteria (in strict order of priority): (1) to provide the military with more flexible response time and options, allowing them more time and space to carefully make the strategic and ethical judgments necessary in war and to respond with appropriate and proportional force; (2) to reduce unnecessary suffering on the part of non-combatants; (3) to facilitate the eventual restoration of peace; and (4) to minimize combatant casualties.
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