The handbook of the international law of military operations
Oxford : Oxford University Press, 2015
This chapter discusses rules governing targeted killings under international law. The term ‘targeted killing’ refers to military operations involving the use of lethal force aimed at killing selected individuals not in the physical custody of those targeting them. Its international lawfulness is regulated primarily by human rights law and, in situations of armed conflict, international humanitarian law. Outside the conduct of hostilities in armed conflict, a targeted killing is permissible only in certain specified circumstances. In a situation of armed conflict, it is permissible only where it is cumulatively: directed against a person subject to lawful attack; planned and conducted so as to avoid erroneous targeting, avoiding, or at least minimizing, incidental civilian harm; not expected to cause incidental civilian harm excessive in relation to the military advantage anticipated; suspended when the targeted person surrenders or otherwise falls hors de combat; and not otherwise conducted using prohibited means or methods of warfare.
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