Balancing Necessity and Individual Rights in the Fight Against Transnational Terrorism: 'Targeted Killings' and International Law

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Working Paper

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This article explores the restraints international human rights law and international humanitarian law place on a State’s use of lethal force against suspected terrorists Although the law restricts the ability to target suspected terrorists it is argued that these limits should be respected in order to protect innocent civilians from undue harm Under IHRL it is argued that the right to life as a peremptory norm restricts extraterritorial targeted attacks of suspected terrorists Accordingly such action should only be considered lawful when it is necessary to protect the State’s population from a known threat and lesser force would not suffice Under IHL it is argued that there is no third category of “unprivileged” or “unlawful” combatants who are subject to lawful targeting for the duration of the hostilities rather nonState actors who participate in an armed conflict may be lawfully targeted for the duration of their participation including an ongoing chain of hostile acts

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