"Kill 'em and sort it out later" : signature drone strikes and international humanitarian law
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Global business and development law journal, Vol. 27, issue 1, 2014, p. 17-51
As of this writing, signature drone strikes have been used to kill thousands of people in Yemen, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. Signature strikes, where unknown individuals are targeted for their “signatures,” or behavioral patterns, have killed or injured hundreds of civilians, caused massive psychological trauma among civilian populations, complicated the relationship between the U.S. and Pakistan, and compromised the stated objective of winning hearts and minds. Even so, no scholarly articles have focused on signature strikes’ legality under International Humanitarian Law. This paper uses on-the-ground investigative reports and recently leaked, Justice Department legal analysis to argue that signatures are a problematic proxy for direct participation, and violate the principles of distinction and proportionality.