Where precision is the aim : locating the targeted killing policies of the United States and Israel within international humanitarian law
Host item entries:
The Canadian yearbook of international law = Annuaire canadien de droit international, Vol. 47, 2009, p. 99-158
If state practice is any indication, targeted killing is increasingly becoming regarded as a viable and effective response to the threat posed by terrorist organizations. Its growing role in armed conflict makes it particularly important that international humanitarian law (IHL) prove capable of providing an effective framework within which this practice may be governed. As it is currently conceived, however, IHL has shown itself ill-suited to the particular nature of armed conflicts between states and terrorist organizations on a broad level and, more specifically, to the practice of targeted killing. This article examines the decision of the Israeli Supreme Court in Public Committee against Torture in Israel v. the Governement of Israel as an esample of an attempt to fit targeted killing in the context of state-terrorist conflicts within IHL. In particular, it will consider two aspects of the court's judgment : (1) its categorization of terrorists; and (2) its imposition of the "least harmful means" requirement. It will argue that the former exposes the problems that accompany regognizing targeted killing as lawsful by interpreting the prevailing legal rules in such a way as to tailor them to the context. It will further argue that the latter, in resorting to an underlying principle of IHL and adapting its articulation to the particular circumstances in which targeted killing occurs, presents the preferable means by which to recognize targeted killing as lawful in state-terrorist conflicts.