Who is a member ? : targeted killings against members of organized armed groups
Host item entries:
Australian yearbook of international law, Vol. 30, 2013, p. 47-91
This paper argues that the most practical and legally correct definition is somewhere between the extreme views of the ICRC on the one hand, and Brigadier General Watkin on the other. It is submitted, to be properly categorized as a ‘member of organized armed group’ a person does not have to directly inflict harm in one causal step on a recurrent basis. However, neither should ‘a cook’ be properly considered a ‘member of an organized armed group’. A more accurate reflection of who is a legitimately targetable member of an organized armed group is based not on the harm the individual causes, but simply on conduct that shows they intentionally enable the operational activities of the group. Accordingly, this paper submits that a more satisfactory way of defining them will come from simply considering whether they form part of the ‘armed force’, in a not dissimilar way one might recognise a State Armed force, without recourse to formal membership, or indicia such as uniforms. This is quite a different test to one used to decide whether a civilian has lost his protection from attack, and this article submits it produces a more logical representation of an armed group than a test that is based on an individual’s proximity to the causing of harm, let alone one based on the causing of harm in a single causal step.