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Who May Be Killed? Anwar al-Awlaki as a Case Study in the International Legal Regulation of Lethal Force

Who May Be Killed? Anwar al-Awlaki as a Case Study in the International Legal Regulation of Lethal Force

A lecture by Robert Chesney, Charles I. Francis Professor in Law, University of Texas School of Law. This event was co-sponsored by the International Human Rights Law Program at the UCLA Law School.

Anwar al-Awlaki is a dual Yemeni-American citizen who has emerged in recent years as a leading English-language proponent of violent jihad, including explicit calls for the indiscriminate murder of Americans. According to the U.S. government, moreover, he also has taken on an operational leadership role with the organization al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), recruiting and directing individuals to participate in specific acts of violence. Does international law permit the U.S. government to kill al-Awlaki in these circumstances? The issue raises questions under the U.N. Charter system, international humanitarian law, and international human rights law, all of which have larger significance for the set of post-9/11 policies once known as the “global war on terrorism.”

Robert Chesney is the Charles I. Francis Professor in Law at the University of Texas School of Law, a Distinguished Scholar of the Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law, and a Non-Resident Senior Fellow of the Brookings Institution. His scholarship examines legal and policy questions associated with U.S. national security, including but not limited to terrorism-related issues. In 2009, Chesney served in the Justice Department in connection with the Detainee Policy Task Force created by Executive Order 13493, and he also previously served the Intelligence Community as an associate member of the Intelligence Science Board. He currently is a member of the Advisory Committee of the American Bar Association's Standing Committee on Law and National Security, a senior editor for the Journal of National Security Law & Policy, a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and a member of the American Law Institute.

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