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3 - Self-Defence, Pernicious Doctrines, Peremptory Norms

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  29 July 2019

Mary Ellen O'Connell
Affiliation:
University of Notre Dame, Indiana
Christian J. Tams
Affiliation:
University of Glasgow
Dire Tladi
Affiliation:
University of Pretoria
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Summary

On 21 August 2015, British Prime Minister David Cameron authorised the killing with military force of a British national, twenty-one-year-old Reyaad Khan. Khan and two other men riding in a vehicle with him were blown to shreds by Hellfire missiles launched from a remotely piloted drone. The attack occurred in Syria, despite the fact that the United Kingdom Parliament had voted to restrict UK involvement in the Syrian Civil War. The Prime Minister declared the killings a lawful exercise of Britain’s ‘inherent right to self-defence’1 against a ‘very real threat’.2 The British suspected Khan of recruiting individuals to ISIS3 and of plotting terrorist attacks to be carried out in the UK.4 A few days later, the United States also conducted a drone attack in Syria and announced with a ‘high level of confidence’ that it had succeeded in killing another twenty-one-year-old British national, Junaid Hussain.5

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2019

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