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A Liberal Theory of International Justice$
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Andrew Altman and Christopher Heath Wellman

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199564415

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199564415.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 03 August 2021

Armed Intervention and Political Assassination

Armed Intervention and Political Assassination

(p.96) 5 Armed Intervention and Political Assassination
A Liberal Theory of International Justice

Andrew Altman (Contributor Webpage)

Christopher Heath Wellman

Oxford University Press

The use of armed force against one state by another state or by a group of states involves some of the most complex and urgent issues of international justice. In recent years, a consensus has begun to develop around the idea that such force is morally permissible only if it is necessary to prevent or end massive human rights violations amounting to a “supreme humanitarian emergency.” This chapter argues that this consensus should be abandoned in favor of a more permissive, two‐pronged approach. Specifically, armed intervention is morally permissible when (a) the target state is illegitimate and (b) the risk to human rights is not disproportionate to the rights violations that one can reasonably expect to avert. The chapter then considers a more targeted response to end human rights abuses: the assassination of leaders of grossly illegitimate regimes. Assassination seems to be murder, pure and simple, but in fact it is not so. After sketching how a system of internationally authorized assassination might work, the chapter analyzes its practical and moral drawbacks and finds that the question of whether such a system would morally be permissible is an open one.

Keywords:   humanitarian intervention, sovereignty, assassination, armed intervention, rights abuses

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