A review of Lincoln’s Code: The Laws of War in American History. By John Fabian Witt. New York, N.Y.: Free Press. 2012. Pp. viii, 248. $32.00. Read full article (PDF)
Laws of War and Humanitarian Law
Immanuel Kant’s 1795 essay, “To Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch” (Zum ewigen Frieden), established a concept of cosmopolitan law as the nemesis of war, instilling in generations of thinkers and practitioners a vision of a world without conflict. Kant’s paradigm posited that “republican constitutions, a commercial spirit of international trade, and a federation of interdependent […]
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.
A footnoted version of a speech delivered by Harold Hongju Koh, Legal Adviser, U.S. Department of State, on September 18, 2012, at the USCYBERCOM Inter-Agency Legal Conference on the Roles of Cyber in National Defense, at Fort Meade, Maryland. Read full article (PDF)