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November 30 panel: "Ethical and Legal Dimensions of Targeted Killing"

November 21, 2011
Targeted Killing poster
Click to enlarge poster.

On Wednesday, November 30 at 4:30 p.m in Silverman 245A, Penn Law’s Institute for Law and Philosophy (ILP) will host a panel, “The Ethical and Legal Dimensions of Targeted Killing.”

Featured speakers include:

  • Moderator: Claire Finkelstein, the Algernon Biddle Professor of Law and Professor of Philosophy, University of Pennsylvania School of Law
  • Jens Ohlin, Associate Professor of Law, Cornell University
  • Kevin Govern, Associate Professor of Law, Ave Maria School of Law
  • Daphne Eviatar, Senior Associate, Law and Security Program, Human Rights First
  • Ambassador Thomas Graham, Special Representative of the President for Arms Control, Non-Proliferation, and Disarmament (1994-1997)

The use of targeted killing has become a favored tool in the so-called war on terror, and the killing of Osama Bin Laden this year further solidified support for the practice, given its efficiency and swift success. Since Bin Laden, several high profile targeted killings have further increased public attention to such operations. But with increased public scrutiny has come a growing sentiment that the moral and legal justifications for targeted killing have not been sufficiently explored.

As part of the November 30 panel, speakers will examine such questions as, to what extent do we have an obligation to attempt to capture before killing terror suspects? Are some individuals on the target list civilians rather than combatants or "unlawful combatants"? Are there special problems associated with targeting American citizens, such as al-Awlaki? And if killing al-Awlaki was legitimate, would the same sort of operation be permissible on U.S. soil?

The panel is a follow-on event to a major April 2011 ILP conference, “Using Targeted Killing to Fight the War on Terror,”which convened scholars, policy makers, and practitioners to address related questions arising at the intersection of moral, political, and legal theory, just war theory, national security law, and international law, as well as criminal and constitutional law and theory.

In addition, the April conference papers have been collected in a book forthcoming from Oxford University Press, Targeted Killings: Law and Morality in an Asymmetrical World.