The lawfulness of U.S. targeted killing operations outside Afghanistan
Host item entries:
Studies in conflict & terrorism, Vol. 38, issue 11, 2015, p. 899-918
Jeffrey Scott Bachman
Targeted killing operations conducted outside Afghanistan have prompted debate regarding their lawfulness. For opponents of targeted killing operations, the debate tends to center on the number of civilians killed. Proponents respond by questioning the credibility and validity of the methods employed to determine the number of civilian casualties. This debate is important, but it also obscures the fact that the lawfulness of targeting killings is not determined by whether civilians were killed alone, while also lending legitimacy to unsubstantiated claims that the United States is engaged in an armed conflict with Al Qaeda and “associated forces.” This article classifies the hostilities in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia. It then applies the applicable body of law to targeted killing operations in each of these respective states based on how the hostilities were classified.