Assassination of General Soleimani and International Law: Report of an Expert Panel Discussion

Document Type : Original Article




On 3 January 2020, US drones targeted a convoy leaving Baghdad International Airport in Iraq,
killing General Ghassem Soleimani, the commander of Iran’s Quds force, alongside nine others.
A couple of days after the incident took place, the Iranian Association for United Nations Studies, in cooperation with a number of Iranian institutes active in the field, held a panel discussion; it was entitled “The Assassination of Martyr General Ghassem Soleimani and International Law.” Most notably, the panellists discussed the assassination of General Soleimani with respect to the law governing the use of force, international humanitarian law and international human rights law. For example, it was maintained that, even assuming that self-defence extends to imminent armed attacks, the assassination was unlawful, because it was not undertaken in response to imminent armed attacks. It was also argued that there was no armed conflict between the US and Iran, and accordingly it is clear that the incident occurred outside of an on-going armed conflict. The assassination was also discussed in relation to the broader US policy towards Iran.