Targeted killings, drones and the right to life

15 August 2013

How international human rights law relates to drone strikes was the topic on the table when academics from the Oxford Martin School hosted a recent expert meeting with senior UN investigators.

Dapo Akande, co-director of the Oxford Martin Programme on Human Rights for Future Generations, chaired the meeting with UN special rapporteurs Christof Heyns and Ben Emmerson QC. The workshop was attended by more than 20 academics, members of civil society and the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Titled ‘Targeted Killings, Drones and the Right to Life’, it looked at the interaction between the right to life as enshrined in international human rights law, laws on targeted strikes during armed conflict, and the right of states to act in self-defence against non-state parties under international laws on the use of force.

Discussion was facilitated by a background paper prepared by Mr Akande, with the assistance of Lawrence Hill-Cawthorne of the University of Oxford’s Law Faculty.

Outcomes from the meeting will feed into the report on drone strikes that Mr Heyns, responsible for the issues of extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, will present to the UN General Assembly later this year.

Mr Emmerson, special rapporteur on counter-terrorism and human rights, is preparing a separate report on accountability for drone strikes.

  • Pictured above are Dapo Akande and UN special rapporteur Christof Heyns