The U.S. killing of the al-Qaeda leader in Afghanistan was not justified in self-defense or under the international law of war or international human rights law. It looks more like an extrajudicial execution, or revenge murder, for past acts of terrorism.
Ben Saul is Challis Chair of International Law at The University of Sydney, an Associate Fellow of Chatham House in London and the International Centre for Counter-terrorism in The Hague, and a UN counter-terrorism adviser. He recently co-drafted the United Nations Model Law on Victims of Terrorism. He has taught at Harvard and Oxford.
Subscribe to this Lawfare contributor via RSS.
Human rights and counterterrorism have been dramatically politicized and undermined at the United Nations over the past 18 months. In a spate of recent resolutions, the 47-member Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva and the General Assembly in New York have both retreated markedly from many of the hard-won normative gains in their earlier resolutions after 9/11, following concerted lobbying by the likes of Egypt, Algeria and Saudi Arabia—regimes not known for respecting rights in counterterrorism.