Knock, knock; who's there ? : announcing targeted killing procedures and the law of armed conflict
Host item entries:
Syracuse journal of international law and commerce, Vol. 40, no. 1, Fall 2012, p. 1-27
John C. Harwood
Acting as a Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions for the Human Rights Council of the United Nations, in 2010 Professor Alston published a report addressing the targeted killing programs of the U.S., Israel, and Russia. The report focused on issues such as national sovereignty, the right to self-defense, who may be targeted (and its corollary, what constitutes a "direct participation in hostilities"), the use of Remotely Piloted Aircrafts (RPA) in targeted killings, and "[t]he requirements of transparency and accountability." This article focuses on Alston's specific assertion that LOAC and IHRL require transparency and accountability for targeted killing programs. This article summarizes the current use of RPAs by the U.S. in Afghanistan and Pakistan, analyzes the argument put forward for transparency in the targeting procedures, and counters the assertion that states should be obligated to disclose the criteria and procedures of their targeted killing programs. Specifically, this article argues that because the conflict between U.S. forces and al Qaeda and the Taliban is properly characterized as "armed conflict," with the application of LOAC as the lex specialis, there is no requirement to publicize or disclose the criteria and procedures of the U.S. targeted killing program.