targeted killing

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targeted killing (countable and uncountable, plural targeted killings)

  1. (warfare) The intentional killing by a government or its agents of a civilian or "unlawful combatant" who is not in that government's custody, and who is taking part in an armed conflict or terrorism, whether by bearing arms or otherwise, and is thus regarded by the government as having lost the immunity from being targeted that he or she would otherwise have under the Geneva Conventions.[1][2][3]
    • 2005, Timothy Shanahan, Philosophy 9/11: Thinking About the War on Terrorism, Open Court Publishing Company, ISBN 0812695828, page 191:
      The moral legitimacy of targeted killing becomes even clearer when compared to the alternative means of fighting terror – that is, the massive invasion of the community that shelters and supports the terrorists in an attempt to catch or kill the terrorists and destory their infrastructure.
    • 2006, Geoff Gilbert, Responding to International Crime, BRILL, ISBN 9004152768, page 307:
      Even if the targeted killing is deemed to fall within the laws of armed conflict, the rules relating thereto protect non-combatants. While civilians cannot be targeted, if they are killed or injured during an attack on a military target, then as long as the means employed were discriminate and proportionate, there is no violation of the laws of armed conflict.
    • 2008, Mark R. Amstutz, International Ethics: Concepts, Theories, and Cases in Global Politics, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc, ISBN 0742556042, page 147:
      In wartime, however, the prohibition against targeted killing is more elusive because the law stipulates that combatants, regardless of their rank or official role, are potential targets. Since war is a contest between states, not persons, the killing in war is not murder.
    • 2009, Benjamin Wittes, Legislating the War on Terror: An Agenda for Reform, Brookings Institution Press, ISBN 0815703104, page 366:
      The real issue – one emphasized in informal conversations – seems to be that unless the target is a duly designated "combatant," the targeted killing would become an "assassination."
    • 2010, Gary D. Solis, The Law of Armed Conflict: International Humanitarian Law in War, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0521870887, page 542:
      There is no announced U.S. policy directive regarding targeted killing. Assassination is addressed in Executive Order 12333, which does not prohibit killing absolutely, but only without presidential approval. Assassination and targeted killing are very different acts, however.
    • 2013 June 7, Ed Pilkington, “‘Killer robots’ should be banned in advance, UN told”, in The Guardian Weekly, volume 188, number 26, page 6:
      In his submission to the UN, [Christof] Heyns points to the experience of drones. Unmanned aerial vehicles were intended initially only for surveillance, and their use for offensive purposes was prohibited, yet once strategists realised their perceived advantages as a means of carrying out targeted killings, all objections were swept out of the way.


For more examples of usage of this term, see Citations:targeted killing.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Patterson, Eric (2009) Just War Thinking: Morality and Pragmatism in the Struggle against Contemporary Threats, Lexington Books, ISBN 978-0739119013, page 74
  2. ^ Morgan, Matthew J. (2009) The Impact of 9/11 and the New Legal Landscape: The Day that Changed Everything?, Palgrave Macmillan, ISBN 0230608388, pages 227-228
  3. ^ Guiora, Amos N. (2008) Constitutional Limits on Coercive Interrogation, Oxford University Press, USA, ISBN 0195340310, page 150

Further reading[edit]