Self Defence

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The Law and Tech of Two Targeted Killings

The New York Times recently published two fascinating pieces on two separate instances of targeted killings. The first is on the tragic denouement of the 20 years of US presence in Afghanistan – a drone strike conducted on 29 August by the US military in Kabul, purportedly against terrorists planning a second deadly attack against the international airport there. Instead of terrorists, however, the drone strike killed 10 civilians, including seven children; Zemari Ahmadi, the driver of the car struck by the drone was in fact an aid worker for a US NGO, who had hoped to seek asylum in the United States. The US military admitted its error after an investigation by the Times and journalists on the ground. The second piece is a detailed exposé of the 27 November 2020 assassination by Israeli agents of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the scientist leading the Iranian nuclear programme. This was the culmination of a series of such targeted killings of scientists involved in the Iranian nuclear programme,…

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Use of Force in Self-Defence to Recover Occupied Territory: When Is It Permissible?

In a recent piece on Just Security, Tom Ruys and Felipe Rodríguez Silvestre argue that a state whose territory is unlawfully occupied by another state does not have the right to use of force in self-defence to recover the occupied territory. The post considered the position in relation to the recent armed conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh between Azerbaijan…

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Mistake of Fact in Putative Self-Defence Against Cyber Attacks

I am glad that Marko has taken on the task of tackling the issue of mistakes of fact in international law, as I completely agree that it is a very important yet so far largely overlooked aspect, surprisingly so. While I’d mostly approve of Marko’s deliberations and conclusions, I wanted to add a brief point that I…

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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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