Targeted Killings

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Attribution, Jurisdiction, Discrimination, Decapitation: A Comment on Makuchyan and Minasyan v. Azerbaijan and Hungary

You know how, every once in a while, you read a case that has everything? I mean really everything? Great facts. Grisly facts even, for those so inclined – say involving a beheading by a state agent. Great law. Not just some genuine legal innovation worthy of scholarly commentary – that’s fine obviously, but not all that uncommon. I mean proper, nerdy, esoteric legal stuff. It doesn’t have to be hugely important; it doesn’t have to concern the world’s most powerful states and its most pressing issues; but it still sticks in your head, it really does. And thank God it’s not about Covid. That’s the kind of case I mean. So let me tell you about one such case that has everything – Makuchyan and Minasyan v. Azerbaijan and Hungary, a Chamber judgment of the European Court of Human Rights, decided last month. As we will see, while focused primarily on the substantive and procedural obligations of states arising from the right to life, the case also raises significant systemic questions of…

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Mistakes of Fact When Using Lethal Force in International Law: Part III

  To briefly recapitulate our examination of mistake of fact when using lethal force in various sub-fields of international law: such a doctrine is, in its purely subjective form, black letter law in international criminal law. It is also established (even if not labelled as such) in international human rights law and (somewhat less clearly) in international humanitarian…

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Mistakes of Fact When Using Lethal Force in International Law: Part II

  If a state believes that it is the target of an ongoing or imminent armed attack and uses force to repel that attack, but it later turns out that it was mistaken and that there either was no such attack or that there was no necessity to respond to it, is that use of force in putative…

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Mistakes of Fact When Using Lethal Force in International Law: Part I

  The tragic shooting down of the Ukrainian airliner over Tehran last week, which Iran has admitted to after several days of denial, has led me to think about a set of issues that was already on my mind when we were discussing the legality of the US strike on Soleimani. How exactly does international law…

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The Killing of Soleimani, the Use of Force against Iraq and Overlooked Ius Ad Bellum Questions

  As most people know by now, the US killed Qassem Soleimani, head of the Iranian Quds force, in a drone strike on 3 January. Most commentators seem to agree that Soleimani’s killing was unlawful, but one issue has received less attention: the legality of using force against Iraq. The strike occurred in Baghdad, killing not only Suleimani…

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