Targeted Killing in International Law

OUP Oxford
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This book conducts an in-depth analysis into the lawfulness of State-sponsored targeted killings under international human rights and humanitarian law. It also addresses the relevance of the law of inter-state force to targeted killings, and the interrelation of the various normative frameworks which may simultaneously apply to operations involving the intentional use of lethal force. Through a comprehensive analysis of treaties, custom, and general principles of law in light of jurisprudence, doctrine, and travaux preparatoires the author demonstrates that contemporary international law provides two distinct normative paradigms which govern the use of lethal force in law enforcement and in the conduct of hostilities. Based on the resulting normative paradigms, the author shows in what circumstances targeted killings may be considered as internationally lawful. The practical relevance of the various conditions and modalities is illustrated by reference to concrete examples of targeted killing from recent State practice. In essence the book argues that any targeted killing not directed against a legitimate military target remains subject to the law enforcement paradigm, which imposes extensive restraints on the practice. Even under the paradigm of hostilities, no person can be lawfully liquidated without further considerations. As a form of individualized or surgical warfare, the method of targeted killing requires a 'microscopic' interpretation of the law regulating the conduct of hostilities which leads to nuanced results. The author concludes by highlighting and comparing the main areas of concern arising with regard to State-sponsored targeted killing under each normative paradigm and by placing the results of the analysis in the wider context of the rule of law.
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About the author

Nils Melzer is a Legal Adviser to the International Committee of the Red Cross.
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Additional Information

Publisher
OUP Oxford
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Published on
May 29, 2008
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Pages
528
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ISBN
9780191029875
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Military / General
Law / International
Law / Military
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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The second edition of this well received handbook provides a comprehensive overview and annotated commentary of those areas of international law most relevant to the planning and conduct of military operations. It covers a wide scope of military operations, ranging from operations conducted under UN Security Council mandate to (collective) self-defence and consensual and humanitarian operations and identifies the relevant legal bases and applicable legal regimes governing the application of force and treatment of persons during such operations. It also devotes attention to the law governing the status of forces, military use of the sea and airspace and questions of international (criminal) responsibility for breaches of international law. New developments such as cyber warfare and controversial aspects of law in relation to contemporary operations, such as targeted killing of specific individuals are discussed and analysed, alongside recent developments in more traditional types of operations, such as peacekeeping and naval operations. The book is aimed at policy officials, commanders and their (military) legal advisors who are involved with the planning and conduct of any type of military operation and is intended to complement national and international policy and legal guidelines and assist in identifying and applying the law to ensure legitimacy and contribute to mission accomplishment. It likewise fulfils a need in pertinent international organizations, such as the UN, NATO, Regional Organizations, and NGOs. It also serves as a comprehensive work of reference to academics and is suitable for courses at military staff colleges, academies and universities, which devote attention to one or more aspects of international law treated in the book. This mix of intended users is reflected in the contributors who include senior (former) policy officials and (military) legal advisors, alongside academics engaged in teaching and research in these areas of international law.
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The idea that international humanitarian law (IHL) and international human rights law (IHRL) are complementary, rather than mutually exclusive regimes generated a paradigmatic shift in the international legal discourse. The reconciliation was driven by a humanistic ethos and its purpose was to offer greater protection of the rights to life, liberty and dignity of all individuals under all circumstances. The complementarity of both regimes currently enjoys the status of the new orthodoxy and simultaneously invites critical reflection. This collection of essays accepts the invitation, offering diverse assessments of the merits of taking human rights to the battlefields of the twenty-first century. The book comprises three parts: part I focuses on the paradigmatic (security based "armed conflict" vs. human rights centered "law enforcement" paradigms) and the normative complexities of the interaction between both regimes in the "fight against terror" and in other, allegedly new, types of wars. Part II discusses the interplay between IHRL and IHL in the context of three specific regimes: belligerent occupation; the European Court of Human Rights and the protection of cultural heritage. Part III explores the potential fusion of IHL and IHRL into a new paradigm in two areas: post-bellum accountability and compensation to victims of war crimes. The range of issues, multitude of competing norms and narratives, and shifting paradigms explored in this collection, converse with each other. This conversation mirrors the process through which international law - paying deference to political realities while simultaneously seeking to transcend them - charts new pathways to advance its humanizing project.
The war on terror is remaking conventional warfare. The protracted battle against a non-state organization, the demise of the confinement of hostilities to an identifiable battlefield, the extensive involvement of civilian combatants, and the development of new and more precise military technologies have all conspired to require a rethinking of the law and morality of war. Just war theory, as traditionally articulated, seems ill-suited to justify many of the practices of the war on terror. The raid against Osama Bin Laden's Pakistani compound was the highest profile example of this strategy, but the issues raised by this technique cast a far broader net: every week the U.S. military and CIA launch remotely piloted drones to track suspected terrorists in hopes of launching a missile strike against them. In addition to the public condemnation that these attacks have generated in some countries, the legal and moral basis for the use of this technique is problematic. Is the U.S. government correct that nations attacked by terrorists have the right to respond in self-defense by targeting specific terrorists for summary killing? Is there a limit to who can legitimately be placed on the list? There is also widespread disagreement about whether suspected terrorists should be considered combatants subject to the risk of lawful killing under the laws of war or civilians protected by international humanitarian law. Complicating the moral and legal calculus is the fact that innocent bystanders are often killed or injured in these attacks. This book addresses these issues. Featuring chapters by an unrivalled set of experts, it discusses all aspects of targeted killing, making it unmissable reading for anyone interested in the implications of this practice.
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