Missing the target : where the Geneva Conventions fall short in the context of targeted killing
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Albany Law Review, Vol. 76, issue 1, p. 263-297
Even though Additional Protocols I and II were implemented in 1977 specifically to deal with the changing nature of armed conflict and advances in weapons technology, their adoption was a retroactive response to the increase in internal State conflicts, civil wars, and national liberation movements rather than a prospective means of encompassing any future advances in warfare. Over the last decade, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has issued several reports to rectify areas of ambiguity in the Conventions and other areas of customary international law in general, but gaps still remain. This note explores those gaps by focusing on the issue of targeted killing and the current problems the international legal community faces in upholding International Humanitarian Law (IHL). Part II examines the emergence of targeted killing as part of the United States and Israeli policies to combat terrorism. Part III discusses the law of armed conflict as it is codified in the Conventions and how classification of an armed conflict affects the legality of targeted killing. Part IV contrasts the United States‘ position justifying targeted killing as preemptive self-defense with the international legal community‘s position of strict adherence to Article 51 of the U.N. Charter. Part V explores the recent targeted killings of Osama bin Laden and Anwar Al-Aulaqi, and the disparate treatment afforded to each under international law. The note concludes with a discussion on how the Geneva Conventions can be reformed to eliminate gaps in the future.