Targeted Killings: Legal and Ethical Justifications

In Marcelo Galuppo (ed.), Human Rights, Rule of Law and the Contemporary Social Challenges in Complex Societies. pp. 2909-2923 (2015)
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The purpose of this paper is the analysis of both legal and ethical ways of justifying targeted killings. I compare two legal models: the law enforcement model vs the rules of armed conflicts; and two ethical ones: retribution vs the right of self-defence. I argue that, if the targeted killing is to be either legally or ethically justified, it would be so due to fulfilling of some criteria common for all acceptable forms of killing, and not because terrorist activity is somehow distinguished and gives special privileges to a state that fights it. The practical implication of my analysis is that one of the most spectacular targeted killings, which was the targeting and killing of Osama bin Laden in May 2011, was not justified, because it was only supposed to be a retribution for the September 11th terrorist attacks.

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Tomasz ┼╗uradzki
Jagiellonian University


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