Defending Nationals Abroad: Assessing the Lawfulness of Forcible Hostage Rescues
34 Pages Posted: 21 Jun 2008
Date Written: June, 20 2008
Hostage-taking occurs frequently around the world and receives universal condemnation. But opinion is sharply divided over the legality of forceful rescue missions by the hostages' national state. Using the examples of two Iranian hostage situations - the detention of U.S. embassy officials in 1979 and the capture of British military personnel in 2007 - this paper evaluates the legality of forcible rescue missions by analyzing the necessary triggers for the right to rescue and the limits placed on the right by the customary international law requirements of necessity, immediacy, and proportionality. The paper then examines the lawfulness of forcible rescue missions, offering criteria that should be analyzed ex ante to determine whether a contemplated rescue mission - legal or not - should be considered lawful.
Keywords: Hostage, Defense of Nationals, Right To Rescue, Iran
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