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Targeted Killing
A Legal and Political History


  • Date Published: May 2016
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107114852

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About the Authors
  • Looking beyond the events of the second intifada and 9/11, this book reveals how targeted killing is intimately embedded in both Israeli and US statecraft, and in the problematic relationship between sovereign authority and lawful violence underpinning the modern state system. It details the legal and political issues raised in targeted killing as it has emerged in practice, including questions of domestic constitutional authority, the use of force in international law, the law of belligerent occupation, the law of targeting and human rights law. The distinctive nature of Israeli and US targeted killing is analysed in terms of the compulsion of legality characteristic of the liberal constitutional state, a compulsion that demands the ability to distinguish between legal 'targeted killing' and extra-legal 'political assassination'. The effect is a highly legalized framework for the extraterritorial killing of designated terrorists that may significantly affect the international law of force.

    • Provides an historical account of the concept of targeted killing which helps readers understand it as a concept that has emerged alongside the expansion of the practices that it seeks to describe and legitimise
    • Corrects the prevailing understanding that targeted killing emerged by way of departure from existing policies and legal positions in the contexts of the second intifada and 9/11, highlighting instead a much longer and mutually productive relationship with law
    • Covers drone technology as part of the chronicling of targeted killing, thereby giving much needed legal, political and historical context to the contemporary debate about drones
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Few issues are more controversial today than targeted killing; Gunneflo's book provides two invaluable contributions for anyone interested in the topic: a convincing theoretical lens and a sense of historical perspective.' Luca Trenta, Political Studies Review

    'Ultimately, Gunneflo's book offers much more than a legal history of targeted killing, even though it certainly does so and, indeed, in an elegant and nuanced manner. Rather, the book at hand invites us to reflect on the implications of grounding sovereign authority on protection, the importance for the legal architecture of political violence of the functions of the state as a machine producing legal power, and the consequences of the collapse of the distinction between law-making and law-preserving violence … the book offers crucial insights …' Ntina Tzouvala, Journal of Conflict and Security Law

    'By weaving relatively unknown legal debates from previous decades with illuminating theoretical insights, Gunneflo makes an important contribution to a topic that has preoccupied countless commentators: drone warfare. He offers what Michel Foucault called a history of the present. The study seeks to answer the very basic question: how did we get here?' Itamar Mann, Völkerrechtsblog

    'The virtues of Targeted Killing: A Legal and Political History are too many to address in such a brief note. They range from a sophisticated methodological approach to both international law in history and the history of international law; to the illuminating treatment of central conceptual international legal fault lines such as the relationship between the jus ad bellum and the jus in bello, and that of human rights law and the law of armed conflict; to the crucially original insights into how sovereign political authority is maintained and spread through the increasing legalization of targeted killing.' Ioannis Kalpouzos, Völkerrechtsblog

    'Markus Gunneflo's book shows how the normalization of targeted killing emerged through extensive legal work. Offering a meticulous account of history and practice, the book highlights the law and politics of protection in the dispute on killing to protect … Targeted Killing presents an urgent, excellent opportunity to understand and contest these practices and developments.' Nahed Samour, Völkerrechtsblog

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    Product details

    • Date Published: May 2016
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107114852
    • length: 290 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 152 x 17 mm
    • weight: 0.56kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Targeted killing in the history of Israel, the United States and international law
    2. The emergence of targeted killing in the Israeli-Palestinian Common Entrapment of Enmity
    3. The emergence of targeted killing in an American homeland which is the planet
    4. Targeted killing and the struggle over international law's sanctioning of lethal force
    5. The law of targeted killing.

  • Author

    Markus Gunneflo, Lunds Universitet, Sweden
    Markus Gunneflo is a postdoctoral researcher and lecturer in public international law at Lunds Universitet, Sweden, where he researches the theory and history of international law, particularly in the areas of the use of force, humanitarian law, human rights and migration.

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