Extrajudicial, Summary, or Arbitrary Executions

Human rights law guarantees all persons the right to life and prohibits its arbitrary deprivation. The continuing practice of extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions in many parts of the globe poses ongoing challenges to the full realization of this norm. Many such problems stem from the inadequate regulation or oversight of state uses of force. Deaths in custody are a major source of concern, particularly in light of heightened state duties with respect to the incarcerated. Fairness in, and progressive abolition of, the death penalty constitutes another important priority in the field, as does enforcing strict limits on the use of lethal force by law enforcement.

CHRGJ has cultivated a deep and wide-ranging body of research and practice on unlawful killings in over a dozen countries, including the United States, Afghanistan, the Philippines, and Brazil. From 2004 to 2010, Faculty Director and Co-Chair Philip Alston held the appointment of United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions. As his home base while serving in that capacity, the Center drew experts, scholars, and students to its Extrajudicial Executions Project, set up to support and complement the Special Rapporteur’s work. Another key thread to the Center’s engagement in this area has stemmed from the work of Faculty Director and Co-Chair Ryan Goodman, a leading scholar and commentator on the law of armed conflict, whose writing and analysis on the topic of killings during wartime has been influential in shaping the debate in United States national security policy. Goodman also served as special counsel to the general counsel of the US Department of Defense from 2015 to 2016 and is the co-founding co-editor-in-chief of Just Security, an online platform for the rigorous analysis of issues at the intersection of national security law and human and constitutional rights.

Our Experts
Philip Alston
CHRGJ Faculty Director
John Norton Pomeroy Professor of Law
Ryan Goodman
CHRGJ Faculty Director
Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz Professor of Law

For a complete record of CHRGJ’s work on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, visit our searchable Document Center and News and Events archives.

Selected Documents
Press Releases and Statements
March 26, 2018
Brazil: UN experts alarmed by killing of Rio human rights defender who decried military intervention
View Document
Articles and Chapters
February 21, 2014
This Debate Has Been Redacted
View Document
Articles and Chapters
August 1, 2013
The Power to Kill or Capture Enemy Combatants
View Document
Recent Events
October 30, 2017
“It Stays With You: Use of Force by UN Peacekeepers in Haiti” Film Screening & Conversation
View Event
September 19, 2017
Social Media Activism – Lunchtime Talk with Raull Santiago
View Event

Related Pages

Extrajudicial Executions Project
Just Security
Racial Justice and Police Violence

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