Armed Conflict

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When to Kill and When to Capture?

My previous post on the Osama bin Laden killing and a number of posts at Opinio Juris have attracted a very productive discussion in the comments, which I would recommend to all readers who haven’t seen it already. The key issue that has emerged in this discussion is whether the legality of OBL’s killing depends on whether the US forces could have captured him through non-lethal means rather than killed him; if they could have, then according to some commentators they should have, and if they didn’t the killing was unlawful. Other commentators dispute this argument quite strongly. I offered some tentative thoughts on this in my earlier post, which I’ll develop here further, particularly as more pertinent facts have emerged since. Let me first outline my view on the applicable law. To simplify matters, let us accept arguendo that I am right that human rights law, namely the ICCPR, applied extraterritorially to the killing of bin Laden, i.e. that the US had the obligation to respect OBL’s rights under the treaty and not deprive him of…

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Was the Killing of Osama bin Laden Lawful?

Yes. I wouldn’t say beyond any doubt, but for practical purposes very nearly so. As I’ve argued before, there are three bodies of law (potentially) relevant for assessing the legality of a targeted killing: the jus ad bellum, IHL, and human rights law. As for the jus ad bellum, it is unclear at this time whether the Pakistani…

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UN Panel of Experts Report on the Sri Lanka Conflict

The report of the Panel of Experts appointed by the UN Secretary-General to investigate the circumstances of the conclusion the Sri Lanka war has been made public today – full report here, BBC News article here. The report was disclosed to the Sri Lankan government a few weeks ago; regrettably and quite…

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The High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina: A Requiem for Legality

Dr Miroslav Baros is Senior Lecturer in Law at Sheffield Hallam University, UK.  Introduction  ‘The Order further confirms that any proceeding instituted before any Court... which challenges [my] decisions sanctioning individuals ...enacted by  me,  will be inadmissible, unless... I expressly give my prior consent. The Decision of the…

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What Exactly Internationalizes an Internal Armed Conflict?

I’d like to turn our readers’ attention to the comment thread of Constantin’s post, which has raised a fascinating issue – when does an internal armed conflict become internationalized? I'd like to add a few thoughts of my own, first on some matters of definition. We first need to agree on what the ‘internationalization’ of an internal armed conflict…

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