Ethical Decision-Making in the Military Decision-Making Process

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Ethical Decision-Making in the Military Decision-Making Process

Contribution to the JSCOPE 2000 Conference “Moral Considerations in Military Decision Making”.

Dr. D. (Desiree) Verweij

Lieutenant Colonel G.A.A.M. (Gérard) Cloïn (drs.)

Major E.C. (Erhan) Tanercan MED (drs.)


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A great deal has changed in the Royal Netherlands Army (RNLA) in recent years. Not only has the task of the RNLA changed, but so has its composition. To begin with the first aspect: the task of the RNLA and that of the armed forces as a whole has been extended.
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In its Mission Statement,[ii]the Royal Netherlands Army indicates a number of values and standards that are important for the army and the execution of its tasks. On the basis of these values we can establish rules of behaviour that apply for all members of the organisation.

As mentioned above, values form the basis for action. We are not constantly aware of this; we adhere to rules and have certain ideals without actually thinking about it. An increasing number of organisations and professional groups are realising that it is a good thing to think about this sometimes; hence the increased attention being paid to corporate ethics and professional ethics.

2.Corporate ethics and professional ethics

Corporate ethics and professional ethics constitute a further division of general ethics, as discussed in section 1. The ethics of the armed forces, or military ethics, contain both. In practice, corporate and professional ethics often coincide. The difference between corporate ethics and professional ethics is usually seen as the difference between the individual and the organisation as a whole. Applied to the armed forces, this means that professional ethics concern the moral aspects (values and standards) of the actions of the individual soldier; corporate ethics concern the moral aspects (values and standards) which play a part in the activities undertaken by the armed forces, or the RNLA, as an organisation. This difference between corporate and
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