British frontline personnel and those involved in taking the decision to launch drone strikes overseas could face murder charges if the UK government does not provide a clearer outline of its position.

According to the JCHR (Joint Committee on Human Rights), the current confusion around the circumstances in which the command chain could be liable to prosecution could lead to other countries taking the UK to court, were one of their nationals killed in a strike. The committee began its inquiry after the targeted killing of Reyaad Khan, a 21-year old British citizen, in Syria. The UK government has staunchly denied it has a targeted killing policy, which carried connotations of the controversial US one, but it does reserve the right to conduct targeted killings outside armed conflict in self-defence and to combat terrorism.

Yet, the JCHR and legal charities still have many questions about the legal basis for drone strikes. Students applying for Law should consider the possible legal justifications for targeted killings and the case for and against UK policy.

Politics applicants should consider this policy in the context of UK foreign policy and the potential constitutional issues it could raise. Would-be Philosophy students should consider the ethical considerations around drone strikes and targeted killings more generally.

More Resources