Current targeted killings practices and the attempts to legally justify those strikes present a challenge to the systematic protection of the right to life under international law. We are now witnessing a significant effort by some states to insulate their “targeted” uses of deadly force from international scrutiny and to redefine international law in order to serve narrow and short-term interests. This presents a serious risk of leaving everyone less secure, particularly if other states around the world, as they acquire the new technology, claim for themselves the same expanded rights to target their enemies without meaningful transparency or accountability.
This brief commentary considers the potential effect of a territorial state’s international human rights obligations on the law governing targeted killings. It posits that these obligations should limit permissible attacks by an attacking state when the territorial state is not party to an armed conflict with the relevant non-state actor, particularly when a territorial state consents to the attacking state’s actions.
On September 18, 2012, State Department Legal Adviser Harold Koh took an important step towards publically elucidating the U.S. positions on how international law applies to cyberspace. Shortly thereafter, NATO’s Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (CCD COE) had released a draft the long-awaited Tallinn Manual, due for formal publication in early 2013. The Manual is the product of a three-year project sponsored by the Centre in which an “International Group of Experts” examined, inter alia, the very issues cited in the Koh Speech. This article functions as a concordance between the positions articulated in the Koh speech and those found in the Tallinn Manual, and provides analytical granularity as to the legal basis for the positions proffered in the Koh Speech.
This Article examines how the principle of reciprocity operates within the international law of war. Tracing the historical development and application of the law, the Article demonstrates that the existing law of war derives from a set of rules that are contingent on reciprocity. Contrary to common understanding, reciprocity strongly influences states’ interpretation and application of the law of war.