A qualified defense of American drone attacks in northwest Pakistan under international humanitarian law
Barnidge, R. (2012) A qualified defense of American drone attacks in northwest Pakistan under international humanitarian law. Boston University International Law Journal, 30 (2). pp. 410-447.
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Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, international law has had to grapple with the fundamental challenges that large-scale violence carried out by non-State actors poses to the traditional inter- State orientation of international law. Questions related to the “adequacy” and “effectiveness” of international humanitarian law, international human rights law and the law related to the use of force have been particularly pronounced. This paper focuses on the international humanitarian law implications of American drone attacks in northwest Pakistan. A highly-advanced modality of modern warfare, armed drones highlight the possibilities, problems, prospects and pitfalls of high-tech warfare. How is the battlefield to be defined and delineated geographically and temporally? Who can be targeted, and by whom? Ultimately, this paper concludes that American drone attacks in northwest Pakistan are not unlawful as such under international humanitarian law, though, like any tactical decision in the context of asymmetric warfare, they should be continuously and closely monitored according to the dictates of law with sensitivity to facts on the ground.