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The international law framework regulating the use of armed drones

Heyns, C., Akande, D., Hill-Cawthorne, L. and Chengeta, T. (2016) The international law framework regulating the use of armed drones. International and Comparative Law Quarterly, 65 (4). pp. 791-827. ISSN 1471-6895

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1017/S0020589316000385

Abstract/Summary

This article provides a holistic examination of the international legal frameworks which regulate targeted killings by drones. The article argues that for a particular drone strike to be lawful, it must satisfy the legal requirements under all applicable international legal regimes, namely: the law regulating the use of force (ius ad bellum); international humanitarian law and international human rights law. It is argued that the legality of a drone strike under the ius ad bellum does not preclude the wrongfulness of that strike under international humanitarian law or international human rights law, and that since those latter obligations are owed to individuals, one State cannot consent to their violation by another State. The article considers the important legal challenges that the use of armed drones poses under each of the three legal frameworks mentioned above. It considers the law relating to the use of force by States against non-State groups abroad. This part examines the principles of self-defence and consent, in so far as they may be relied upon to justify targeted killings abroad. The article then turns to some of the key controversies in the application of international humanitarian law to drone strikes. It examines the threshold for non-international armed conflicts, the possibility of a global non-international armed conflict and the question of who may be targeted in a non-international armed conflict. The final substantive section of the article considers the nature and application of the right to life in armed conflict, as well as the extraterritorial application of that right particularly in territory not controlled by the State conducting the strike.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Law
ID Code:66308
Publisher:Cambridge University Press

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