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The Legality of Targeted Killings in View of Direct Participation in Hostilities

Alkatout, Josef

Beiträge zum Internationalen und Europäischen Strafrecht / Studies in International and European Criminal Law and Procedure, Vol. 22

(2015)

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About The Author

Josef Alkatout, deutsch-palästinensischen Ursprungs, wuchs in den USA sowie in Süddeutschland auf. Nach dem Studium der Rechtswissenschaft und der internationalen Beziehungen in der Schweiz und in Finnland, promovierte er an der Universität Göttingen im internationalen Strafrecht zum Dr. jur. Er war über mehrere Jahre als Jurist in der Regulierungsbranche in London und Genf sowie als Dozent für den Weltverband der Gesellschaften für die Vereinten Nationen beschäftigt. Momentan vertritt er die tamilische Exilregierung in New York in Belangen des internationalen Strafrechts und ist darüber hinaus für eine Genfer Rechtsanwaltskanzlei tätig. Seine Abhandlung zur Zulässigkeit der Tötung Osama bin Ladens wurde in sechs Sprachen veröffentlicht. Josef Alkatout ist auch Autor von zwei belletristischen Romanen.

Abstract

In today's asymmetric armed conflicts, military agents carry out targeted killings against civilians that »take a direct part in the hostilities«. This book defines such participation for the purposes of international humanitarian, criminal and human rights law. Additionally, the general framework of the law of war is revisited, in particular under the currently frequent scenario of non-international armed conflicts. Treaty requirements for the recognition of non-state actors (degree of collectivity) are addressed and the legal ethics of a strict status-based approach in international law (combatants/civilians) is opined on. The study at hand analyzes the repertory of applicable legal texts and their authentic versions in the different official languages. It discloses existing incoherencies and gives an overview of their implementation into the national legislation of several countries. The research closes with a fictional case study. Graphs and figures are used for illustration purposes throughout the document.In today's asymmetric armed conflicts, military agents carry out targeted killings against civilians that »take a direct part in the hostilities«. This book defines such participation for the purposes of international humanitarian, criminal and human rights law. Additionally, the general framework of the law of war is revisited, in particular under the currently frequent scenario of non-international armed conflicts. Treaty requirements for the recognition of non-state actors (degree of collectivity) are addressed and the legal ethics of a strict status-based approach in international law (combatants/civilians) is opined on. The study at hand analyzes the repertory of applicable legal texts and their authentic versions in the different official languages. It discloses existing incoherencies and gives an overview of their implementation into the national legislation of several countries. The research closes with a fictional case study. Graphs and figures are used for illustration purposes throughout the document.

Table of Contents

Section Title Page Action Price
Acknowledgements 7
Contents 9
Abbreviations and Terminology 14
A. Introduction 21
I. Aim of this Study 23
II. Historical Development of Asymmetric Warfare, Immediate Participation in Hostilities and Targeted Killings 23
III. Definition of Targeted Killings 30
IV. Applicable Law 32
1. The Hague Law, Geneva Law and International Criminal Law 32
2. Anonymous Killings versus Targeted Killings 34
3. International Human Rights Law 37
4. IHL’s Applicability ratione loci 41
5. IHL’s Applicability ratione temporis 46
B. International and Non-international Armed Conflicts 48
I. Qualification as an International Armed Conflict 48
II. Several Levels of Non-international Armed Conflicts 49
1. Three-step Approach 49
2. Territorial Control 51
3. Impact on Targeted Killings and Immediate Participation in Hostilities 54
III. Particular International and Non-international Armed Conflicts 55
IV. Convergence of International and Non-international Armed Conflicts 57
V. Immediate Participation in Hostilities as a Concern of Non-international Armed Conflicts 59
C. Statuses during Armed Conflict 61
I. International Armed Conflicts 61
1. Combatants 61
2. Civilians 64
3. Allocation and Loss of Status 67
II. Non-international Armed Conflicts 69
1. No Combatant Status, no Prisoners of War 69
2. Emergence of the Law and States’ Interests 71
3. Impact on the Ground, Reciprocity and Legal Ethics 72
4. Voluntary Granting of Combatant Status? 74
5. Rights and Denomination of Members of the State’s Armed Forces 75
6. Conclusion on Statuses 77
III. Categories Independent of the Conflict’s Nature 78
1. “Non-combatants” 78
2. “Quasi-combatants” 80
3. Parlementaires 81
4. Private Contractors 82
IV. Correct Denomination of Immediately Participating Civilians 84
D. Principle of Distinction 91
I. Principle of Active Distinction 91
II. Principle of Passive Distinction 92
E. (No) Protection from Military Attack during Armed Conflict 96
I. Combatants 96
II. Civilians 98
1. Art. 51 (3) of AP I 98
2. Provisions Similar to Art. 51 (3) of AP I 100
3. Active, Direct, Real and Immediate Participation 103
a) Overview of the Different Concepts 103
b) How to Interpret the Different Concepts 106
aa) Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties of 1969 (VCLT) 106
bb) Statutory Interpretation in General 107
(1) Literal / Grammatical Interpretation 107
(2) Systematic Interpretation 108
(3) Teleological Interpretation 108
cc) Subsidiary Interpretation Methods under Art. 32 of the VCLT 109
(1) Travaux préparatoires 109
(2) Historical Interpretation 109
(3) International Texts and Practice 109
(4) International Texts and Practice put to the Test 111
(5) Inclusive and Conciliatory Interpretation 111
dd) Noscitur a sociis Approach 112
ee) “Immediate” Participation in Hostilities 112
4. Conclusion on the Exceptional Clause’s Appropriate Wording and its Reasoning 113
5. Remaining Protection for aCcivilian Taking an Immediate Part in Hostilities 114
a) International Armed Conflicts 114
b) Non-international Armed Conflicts 115
III. Loss of Protection from Attack via Membership in the Armed Forces or an Organized Armed Entity 116
1. States’ Armed Forces 116
2. Denomination of the Concerned Non-state Entities 117
3. Definition of Membership 117
4. International Armed Conflicts 118
a) Qualification as an Organized Resistance Movement and Loss of Protection from Attack 118
b) Additional Qualification for Combatant Status 120
c) Comprehensive Understanding of Members of an Organized Resistance Movement 121
d) Individuals not under Military Command 122
5. Non-international Armed Conflicts 124
a) Strict Requirements for Organized Armed Groups 124
b) Absence of Combatant Status 125
c) Continuous Combat Function 125
d) No Immunity from Attack 126
6. Practical Consequences of a Strict Approach for the Entities’ Qualification 127
7. Duration of Membership 129
8. Concluding Remarks on Membership Approach 130
F. Immediate Participation in Hostilities 132
I. Introduction 132
II. Israeli Judgment (“Targeted Killings” Case) 133
III. ICRC Interpretive Guidance 137
IV. Case-by-case Approach? 139
V. Definition of Immediate Participation in Hostilities 140
1. “And for such Time as” – Immediate Participation in Hostilities ratione temporis 143
a) Basic Principle 143
b) Beginning of Immediate Participation in Hostilities 143
c) End of Immediate Participation in Hostilities 145
aa) “Specific Acts Approach” and its “Revolving Door” 146
bb) Not an Issue of lex scripta versus lex non scripta 149
cc) Taking into Account the Entire “Hostile Period” 150
dd) One-time Immediate Participation in Hostilities 151
ee) Case of Return from Attack 153
ff) Responsibility to Determine the End of Immediate Participation on the Ground 154
gg) How to Signal the End of Membership or of Immediate Participation in Hostilities? 155
(1) Individualized Approach 156
(2) Database Registration 156
(3) Burden of Proof Lies with the Attacker 159
(4) How to Accelerate the End of Membership or Immediate Participation in Hostilities? 159
2. Hostilities 162
3. Direct Causation 164
4. Belligerent Nexus 166
5. Classic Notions of Criminal Law 167
a) Attempt, Threat, Likelihood of Harm and Guilt 168
b) Actus reus and mens rea 170
c) Situations of Doubt 171
6. Additional Requirements for (Im-)Mediate Participation in Hostilities 172
a) The Unlawfulness of an Act and the Weakening of the Adversary 172
b) Carrying of a Weapon 173
VI. Specific Cases of Immediate Participation in Hostilities 174
1. Human Shields 174
2. Computer Attacks 178
3. Drones 180
VII. Illustrative Examples of Immediate Participation in Hostilities 185
VIII. Mediate Participation in Hostilities 192
IX. Right to Immediate Participation in Hostilities 198
G. Practice of Targeted Killings in Light of other IHL Principles 200
I. Proportionality 200
II. Prohibitions of Perfidy and Denial of Quarter 203
III. Other Principles and Conclusion 205
H. Legality of Targeted Killings in Armed Conflict 206
I. In General 206
II. Less Harmful Means 211
III. Target Lists 217
IV. Ex post Investigation of a Killing’s Legality? 218
I. Fictional Case Study 220
I. Fictional Facts 220
II. Application of the Law and its Principles 221
1. Applicable Law 221
2. Qualification of the Conflict and Corresponding Legal Texts 221
3. Assessment of the collectivities and the individuals as well as of their acts 222
a) allYance 223
aa) Intrinsic Characteristics 223
bb) Military Vulnerability 223
cc) Criminal Liability 224
b) Y. Woman 224
c) Xeno 224
d) forZes 226
aa) Intrinsic Characteristics 226
bb) Military Vulnerability and no General Criminal Liability 226
cc) Lawfulness of the forZes’ Acts 227
III. Conclusion 227
J. Conclusions 229
I. In General 229
II. Substantive Findings 229
III. “And for such Time as” 230
IV. Use of Appropriate Expressions 231
References and Bibliography 233
Domestic Legislation, Regulation and Communication 269
I. France 269
II. Germany 269
III. Israel 270
IV. Netherlands 270
V. New Zealand 270
VI. Norway 270
VII. Switzerland 270
VIII. U.K. 270
IX. U.S. 270
Table of Cases 273
I. International 273
1. ICC 273
2. ICJ 273
3. ICTR 274
4. ICTY 274
5. Other 275
II. Domestic 275
1. Canada 275
2. Colombia 275
3. Germany 276
4. Israel 276
5. Switzerland 276
6. U.S. 276
Subject Index 277