Evaluating The Effectiveness of Targeted Killing Counterterrorism Strategy: The Nature And Limits of Doctrinal, Hermeneutical and Systematic Game Theory Approaches.

Talbot, Adejumoke (2020) Evaluating The Effectiveness of Targeted Killing Counterterrorism Strategy: The Nature And Limits of Doctrinal, Hermeneutical and Systematic Game Theory Approaches. Doctoral thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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Literature reviewed so far shows that several scholars dismiss targeted killings as clear violation of international law; while others argue that it is the law that should adapt to its contemporary context of application. My thesis argues in favour of the latter concept. My aim is to clarify the current legal interpretation of targeted killings and then enhance and supplement the international legal framework by identifying a range of standards in which states can lawfully and effectively defend themselves against terrorists. Critical analysis of legislations permitting the use of lethal force, through the methodological approach of doctrinal analysis, which focuses on the meaning of legal categories in the abstract, reveals that targeted killing is an accepted form of self-defence, during peace time, only when it is carried out in response to imminent threats that are both instant and overwhelming. A would-be victim must have no alternative choice of means and no moment of deliberation but to respond to an armed attack in a proportionate measure. From the perspective of such doctrinal analysis, only upon satisfaction of this condition can Article 51 of the United Nations Charter be invoked. Laws of Armed Conflict permit the use of targeted killings against civilians only when they are found to be directly participating in hostilities against those targeting them. By cross referencing these legal provisions with the supplementary methodology of socio- legal studies, which in contrast to doctrinal approach focuses analysis upon of the law in action, it is possible to secure more critical insights. My research has thus identified discrepancies between these regulatory laws and their actual application to practical scenarios. The thesis addresses the following questions: firstly, because terroristic plots are typically planned covertly and executed instantaneously, what comprises the catalyst for victims of terrorism - who do not have an overwhelming imminent threat experience - to enable them to mount an effective defence? Secondly, since terrorists covertly plot and execute attacks, how can states fulfil the condition under the laws of armed conflict of finding terrorists engaged in the act of hostilities in order to fulfil the present criteria for ‘lawful targeting processes’? Existing international law provisions, appearing to permit killing in self-defence within limited parameters, are underdeveloped and the legality of targeted killing is, therefore, debateable. Thus, the thesis adopts a mixed method approach that critically evaluates legislative provisions permitting killing in self-defence and the viability of their application to practical scenarios. They include the following: A qualitative hermeneutical analysis of theoretical perspectives from legal realist, liberal cosmopolitan and pragmatic schools of thought and associated methodologies. This will highlight challenges with attempts to fully applying existing law to contemporary targeted killing; and a semi- quantitative approach using the Peace War Game Theory analytical tool. In order to clarify the contribution of targeted killings as a viable counterterrorism strategy, the latter methodological approach, which addresses the options facing different parties relative to their goals, serves as a new lens for predetermining the outcomes of strategic decisions, regarding the long term utilization of targeted killings. As an original contribution to the literature, my research critically tests the viability of this game theory methodological approach as a means of adding something new to existing debates over research practice. It further suggests guidelines for a new legal model focussed, in particular, upon the use of targeted killings as a counterterrorism strategy. As the game theory methodological approach envisages, deployment of targeted killing may only serve to alleviate or defer future terroristic activities from persons who have been killed rather than eliminate terrorism and its concept completely.

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