The Right to Life

The right to life stands at the heart of human rights protection. Individuals cannot enjoy any of the rights guaranteed to them unless their physical existence is ensured. All human rights instrument list the right to life as the first one of their safeguards. Nonetheless, in many situations human life finds itself under structural threat. Although obligated by law to protect the right to life, State authorities time and again engage in deliberate acts of killing. Fortunately, international review bodies have devised many imaginative counter-strategies. Another one of those structural threats is global warming. Obviously, armed conflict puts human life inevitably at risk; the limits of the ‘license to kill’ given by the laws of war must be scrupulously observed.
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Biographical Note

Christian Tomuschat, Professor Emeritus, Humboldt University Berlin, Faculty of Law. He was a member of the UN Human Rights Committee (1977 to 1986) and the UN International Law Commission (1985 to 1996). Author of Human Rights. Between Idealism and Realism (2nd. ed. 2008).

Table of contents

Foreword; Part I. Introduction
1. Christian Tomuschat, The Right to Life – Legal and Political Foundations;
Part II. The Right to Life as Defence against State Interference
2. Walter Kälin, ‘Death is different’ – The Death Penalty and the Right to a Fair Trial;
3. Paul Tavernier, Le recours à la force par la police;
4. Vera Rusinova, The Duty to Investigate the Death of Persons Arrested and/or Detained by Public Authorities;
5. Georg Nolte, The Bundesverfassungsgericht on the German Aerial Security Law: A Sonderweg from the Perspective of International Law?;
6. Rafaëlle Maison, Le crime de génocide dans la jurisprudence internationale : débats et hypothèses;
Part III. The Right to Life in Situations of Armed Conflict
7. Vera Gowlland-Debbas, The Right to Life and the Relationship between Human Rights and Humanitarian Law;
8. Nils Melzer, The ICRC’s Clarification Process on the Notion of Direct Participation in Hostilities under International Humanitarian Law;
9. Stefan Oeter, Collateral Damages – Military Necessity and the Right to Life;
10. Michael Bothe, The Status of Captured Fighters in Non-International Armed Conflict;
11. Philippe Weckel, Les « combattants irréguliers » en situation d’occupation militaire;
12. Stefanie Schmahl, Targeted Killings – A Challenge for International Law?;
13. Hélène Tigroudja, Assassinats ciblés et droit à la vie dans la jurisprudence de la Cour suprême israélienne;
Part IV. A Right of Resistance?
14. Jean d’Aspremont, Le tyrannicide en droit international;
Part V. Positive Obligations Deriving from the Right to Life?
15. Emmanuel Decaux, Le droit à la vie et le droit à une alimentation suffisante;
16. Eibe Riedel, The Right to Life and the Right to Health, in particular the Obligation to Reduce Child Mortality;
17. Astrid Epiney, ‘Réfugiés écologiques’ et droit international;
Part VI. Conclusions
18. Pierre d’Argent, Conclusions générales : « Le droit à la vie en tant que jus cogens donnant naissance à des
obligations erga omnes ? »
Contributors (Biographical Notes).

Readership

Everyone interested in human rights protection, from a legal, a philosophical and a practical viewpoint. Academic teachers, students and practitioners alike may benefit from the book.

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