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Drones and the Future of Armed ConflictEthical, Legal, and Strategic Implications$
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David Cortright, Rachel Fairhurst, and Kristen Wall

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780226258058

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226258195.001.0001

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International Law and Drone Attacks beyond Armed Conflict Zones

International Law and Drone Attacks beyond Armed Conflict Zones

(p.63) Chapter Four International Law and Drone Attacks beyond Armed Conflict Zones
Drones and the Future of Armed Conflict

Mary Ellen O’Connell

University of Chicago Press

This chapter presents the international legal framework that governs targeted killing in settings beyond accepted zones of armed conflict. The legal justifications that have been proffered in support of the US government’s targeted killing policy have questionable validity. The author argues that the United States’ use of drones outside of the armed conflict in Afghanistan does not qualify as an exception to the general prohibition on the use of force found in the UN Charter and the international laws of war. The legal argument for Pakistani ‘consent’ to drone strikes on their territory is problematic, as is the claim that military action is permissible outside of a recognized war zone when the state in question is ‘unwilling or unable’ to respond to the problem of terrorism. The chapter calls for the United States to ensure that its targeted killing policies are fully compliant with international law.

Keywords:   consent, continuous combat function, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, United Nations, self defence, last resort

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