The Right to Life in Times of War or Armed Conflict

Elizabeth Wicks

in The Right to Life and Conflicting Interests

Published in print August 2010 | ISBN: 9780199547395
Published online September 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191594373 | DOI:
The Right to Life in Times of War or Armed Conflict

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This chapter focuses on the taking of human life during times of armed conflict and considers three main issues: the application of the right to life during armed conflict; the right to life under international humanitarian law; and the ethics of killing in war. It is argued that human rights law should continue to apply during times of conflict, although it was recognized that in practice the issue of jurisdiction causes considerable difficulties in its application. Assuming that jurisdictional issues can be overcome, a death in wartime will not violate the right to life if it is in accordance with the rules of international humanitarian law. Proportionality and military necessity are the key restraining factors upon legitimized state killing during armed conflict, and these considerations fit well with the prohibition of arbitrary deaths under human rights law.

Keywords: international humanitarian law; armed conflict; ethics of killing

Chapter.  12466 words. 

Subjects: Human Rights and Immigration

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